Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Is Enough Enough? ...

It's late. I really should be in bed. At the very least, I should be reading or listening to soothing music and trying to drift off to sleep. But instead, I'm going to write, because I'm pissed off.

From today's headlines:

Student fires gun in Mo. middle school

JOPLIN, Mo. - Fascinated by the Columbine bloodbath, a 13-year-old boy in a dark green trenchcoat and mask carried an assault rifle into his school Monday, pointed it at students and fired a shot into a ceiling before the weapon jammed, authorities said. No one was hurt.

- snip -

The seventh-grader, whose name was not immediately released, pointed the gun at two students inside Joplin Memorial Middle School but was confronted by an administrator who tried to talk him into putting the gun down, Jones said.

- snip -

Officers arrested the teen behind a nearby building. Police described his weapon as a Mac-90, a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle.

- snip -

Jones said the gun belonged to the boy's parents, who kept the weapon in a safe at home. The parents told police their son apparently knew the combination to the gun safe. Farmer said it is not uncommon for people in the area to own assault weapons.

As I wrote to L.A. Dave earlier, when the story first broke and the details were sketchier, "HOW THE FUCK DOES A 13-YEAR-OLD GET HIS HANDS ON AN AK-47?! Yeah, who needs gun control? Not us!"

Of course, based on the story excerpt above, we've now learned that "the gun belonged to the boy's parents, who kept the weapon in a safe at home. The parents told police their son apparently knew the combination to the gun safe. Farmer said it is not uncommon for people in the area to own assault weapons."

Um, WHY?!

You know who needs an AK-47? Somebody who wants to kill a lot of people in a very short amount of time. Which is apparently what the 13-year-old had in mind. So it's a good thing the gun jammed. But it would have been better, if, oh, HE DIDN'T HAVE IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.

My follow-on message to L.A. Dave this morning said this: "Yup, this is the fucking poster issue for gun control. In a month that's seen three school shootings (four if you count this one), and it's only October fucking 9th, the NRA has to get its collective head out of its collective ass and stop whining that we're trying to trample their Constitutional rights. Fuck that. The government says you have to drive 65 miles per hour on certain roads (not that anyone abides by that), but it doesn't say that you just can't drive. There can be LIMITS to things. For the love of God."

So this is me, being Robert Conrad with a battery on my shoulder, and fuck yeah, I'm daring all the NRA-loving, gun-toting members of society to even try to knock it off where this story is concerned. Because there is NO reason a 13-year-old should have access to a replica of an AK-47. EVER. And if you're going to cite the Second Amendment here, listen: The Constitution was written at a time when people needed guns to defend there homesteads. The Constitution needs to be interpreted for the times in which we live. Our Founding Fathers didn't have crystal balls. They couldn't predict what life would be like 230 years later. You can't take every letter of the Constitution to mean the same thing today as it meant then. That's why we have judges to interpret cases. You might argue that people still feel the need to own a gun to defend their homes. Fine. But they don't need AK-47s. Or maybe they like to hunt (shooting animals dead for fun!), but I don't think there'd be much sport involved in hunting with an AK-47.

Part of the story today revealed that 7th-grader (that is, the kid in SEVENTH GRADE) said, "Please don't make me do this." So I'm going to put on my psychiatrist hat and say, "Gee, sounds like a cry for help." He could have walked into school and started blowing away anyone in his path, but he fired a shot into the ceiling instead. I don't think he really wanted to hurt anyone. I think he wanted to be stopped.

But God help us if he was truly of the same mind as his heroes Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. To a degree, he was. He had a grander plan.

This time, we got lucky. This time, everyone got out of the situation alive.


Blogger Jeff Hunter said...

The government says you have to drive 65 miles per hour on certain roads (not that anyone abides by that)

The government says kids can't handle dangerous weapons (not that this kid abided by that).

8:38 AM  
Blogger Jack Landers said...

I know that this is a very old post but I'm commenting anyway.

What you don't realize - and what most people don't realize - is that every single AK-47 (or derivative) legally in private hands in the US is not a real AK. Sure, it looks like the AKs you see in the hands of foreign armies. But importing or manufacturing fully automatic weapons for civilians has been essentially illegal in the US since the 1930's. Well before the AK was even invented.

These so-called AKs are actually a bunch of AK parts which have been assembled on to a semi-automatic receiver. The most basic definition of an assault rifle is an intermediate caliber rifle capable of selective fire. Which is to say that it can be fired as a full auto. These things are not capable of doing that. The AKs on the American market don't fire any faster than most hunting rifles. And in fact the cartridge fired by a standard AK (the 7.62x39) is the ballistic equal of the weakest rifle cartridge typically used for deer (30-30).

Your run-of-the-mill 30-06 semi-automatic hunting rifle is inarguably more powerful and a more potent weapon than the American AKs.

Let's look at the other characteristics of these surplus military AKs in the US. They can mount bayonets. So? It's not like you can't cross the street without being mugged at bayonet point. I must be missing the stories in the news where armed gangs are charging each other with bayonets. In practical terms, they don't appear to be a public danger. AKs often have pistol grips. Well, that's just good ergonomics for a lot of people. I don't see how good ergonomics are a public hazard. And then they can accept high-capacity magazines. So can any semi with detachable magazines. You can get 5 round magazines for the AK as well. The magazine is a detachable thing. Not a permanant part of the rifle. It's like being mad at the Honda Civic because you saw one with a retarded-looking aftermarket spoiler on the back.

Here is the attraction of the American AK. It is a very, very dependable rifle. You can throw it in a safe or in your trunk for a couple of years and knock it around some and forget to clean it and it will go bang when you need it to. This isn't true of most firearms. The tolerances between parts are very loose such that mud or grit can get in there but not interfere with function. The AK is the Jeep Wrangler of the rifle world. You can take it anywhere and put it through the worst kind of abuse and it won't let you down.

Regarding your assertation that there would not be much sport involved in hunting with an AK, I really don't think that you have thought this through. As only a semi-auto it's not as if one could spray the deer or other prey with dozens of bullets. Whether you hunt with a semi-auto or a lever action or whatever, the issue is shot placement. Not rate of fire. Placing, say, 2 bullets in the heart/lungs region of the deer (a target about 8 inches across) takes just as long with a semi as it does with a bolt action or a lever gun. Most of the job there is getting your aim right and remembering exactly what part of the animal to aim at. Cycling the action only takes a split second.

High magazine capacity would be no advantage at all. I have done plenty of deer hunting and I can tell you that if you have not brought the deer down with the first one or two shots then there is no way that any more will do the trick as the deer will be long gone.

If anything, hunting with an AK would offer a bit of a unique challenge because it's accuracy beyond a couple hundred yards leaves something to be desired and the cartridge that it fires is on the weaker side, similarly restricting the useful range. You could successfully hunt deer with it (and people certainly have) but you would have to restrict your shots to within 100 yards or maybe as far as 150. This would necessitate getting closer to the animal before shooting, meaning that you will test your abilities to 'work the wind', stalk silently and patiently or perhaps develop some skill in calling the animal closer by mimicking the bleat of a doe in heat or the grunt of a buck.

In summary, the AKs that are encountered in the US are tough, hardy tools which are less deadly than most civilian hunting rifles and are certainly less precise tools. But they have their applications. In the tool box of my truck I keep some tools in the event of a break-down. Not my best tools because they are getting wet sometimes and getting knocked around and generally beat up. But anything I keep in there has to work in an emergency after I have pretty well ignored it and failed to clean or oil it for months. Such is the AK. For someone who lives in a rural area with a lot of bears or coyotes or where odds of hitting a deer on any given night are pretty good (and thus needing to finish it off), an AK in the trunk is not such an absurd thing.

2:02 PM  

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