Jan Schneider believes in sensible gun control/safety measures to abate gun violence. Weapons of war, and particularly AR-15 semiautomatic rifles, have no place in civilian hands.
On February 14, 2018, a gunman identified as Nikolas Cruz opened fire in Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. He killed 17 people and wounded 14 others. Cruz was armed with at least one AR-15 and “countless magazines.”
The Parkland incident followed a horrible pattern. Most mass shootings in the United States in recent years have involved the AR-15. These include: Newtown, Connecticut (2012); San Bernardino, California (2015); Orlando, Florida (2016); Las Vegas, Nevada (2017); and Sutherland Springs, Texas (2017).
While respecting the Second Amendment, Jan favors the following measures: universal background checks; closing the internet, gun show and “Charleston” (3-day) loopholes; bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks; and restrictions on ownership by the seriously mentally ill, suspected terrorists (no-fly-no-buy) and persons under 21. Jan opposes concealed-carry reciprocity.
Such ideas are scarcely new or startling. There was a federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) — officially known as the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (Pub. L. 103-322) — in effect between September 13, 1994 and September 13, 2004. It included limits on magazines holding more than ten rounds. The law survived several legal challenges, but Congress allowed the10-year ban to expire.
A renewed assault weapons ban could have an impact in reducing horrendous tragedies in schools and elsewhere. It would, however be the beginning rather than the end of measures to reduce gun violence. According to the Gun Violence Archive, in 2017 there were 61,672 gun incidents in the United States (346 being mass shootings), resulting in 15,618 deaths and 31,232 injuries (including 3,975 children and teens killed or injured). Moreover, these figures do not include 22,000 annual suicides. Clearly, we have to address gun safety in the broader contexts of mental health, domestic violence, race relations and others.
Finally, special thanks are due to the students who survived the Parkland disaster and have launched a crusade to fix America’s gun laws. We should learn from them and support their efforts.