NRA: Shooting from the hip

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By Ken Begley


There is a national debate raging on gun control legislation in the wake of the massacre of children at Newtown, Conn.

The purpose of this column is to give you my own thoughts and some of the ideas currently being floated by the National Rifle Association (NRA) and others.  
The National Rifle Association of America is the premier organization promoting gun rights in America. The most recent filings with the IRS show that in 2010 it had total revenue of $227.8 million and assets worth $163 million. A good part of its budget is spent lobbying congress and distributing contributions to politicians that they want to support their ideas. It receives its revenue from major gun manufacturers and individual members.
My own background is I’m a 37-year veteran of both the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Army. I continue to serve today as an Army Reserve ROTC instructor. I’ve fired automatic weapons in that capacity to include the M16 rifle, the M60 machinegun and the 50 caliber machinegun. So, I know a little bit about assault firearms.
I don’t think there is anything wrong with a guy that owns a rifle or shotgun that wants to go hunting. I do think it is wrong to sell semi-automatic assault rifles and pistols with 30 round clips. I think most deer hunters will tell you that if you don’t get the deer in the first shot, then you can forget about a second one as the deer is already gone. Nope, a 30- round clip is pretty much designed to kill people as fast as you can. It was not designed to hunt with.
The military came up with automatic rifles with large magazines for one purpose. They determined that the average soldier sucked when it came to marksmanship in a real battle.  The large-capacity clip was coupled with these rifles so a soldier could “spray” a massive amount of lead in the general direction of the enemy in hopes of hitting him.
Civilian assault rifles are semi-automatic. That means you can have a big magazine but you have to squeeze the trigger for each shot you want to fire. The NRA makes a big deal about how this is much safer than automatic firearms.
Tell that to a few dead police officers that have shown up at crime scenes only to find themselves outgunned.
The difference between emptying a magazine in full automatic versus semi-automatic is a matter of a few seconds, at best, when the adrenaline is pumping. In fact, most of the time when a person is all hyped up on adrenaline they will continue to shoot until the pistol or rifle is empty, regardless of what their intention was to begin with. So, 30 rounds go pretty quick.
Did you also know you can buy some automatic weapons after an extensive background check? Of course, we all know how good those background checks are, wink, wink.
I walked into one of those gun shows you always hear about several years ago and saw a transferable M60 machinegun for sale.  
An M60 machinegun fires a 7.62 mm (.308 in) caliber bullet at the rate of 500-650 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 2,800 feet per second, and has an effective range of 1,200 yards (3/4 of a mile).
I looked at the guy selling the M60 and said, “You can sell that?”  
He looked back at me and said, “It’s still America, isn’t it?”
Well, give me two.  I’m going duck hunting tomorrow.
One gun rights supporter that wants no changes to current law said, “We should equip each principal with an assault rifle so they can shoot anybody that might attack the school.”
Well, let’s ask our local principals about this.
“Hey there, Paul Terrell, Pam Breunig, Chris Brady, Amanda Mattingly and Ty Howard.  Do you feel comfortable and think you have the fancy moves to take on a certified crazy with ‘semi-automatic’ weapons one-on-one?” I’m certain it’s something you learned in college while studying to be an educator.
Another NRA proposal was that we get “good guys” to patrol our schools with weapons. Yeah, that makes sense. I know a lot of untrained military “wannabes” that have watched tons of war movies and would like to have a shot at that.
It is also interesting that the New York Times reported that 63-year-old NRA Vice President Wayne LaPierre “who once called federal agents ‘jackbooted government thugs,’ now insists that the solution to gun violence is putting police officers or ‘armed good guys,’ in every one of the nation’s 98,817 K-12 schools.”  
The New York Times also reported that 67-year-old NRA President David Keene’s “son went to prison for shooting at another driver in a road-rage fit.”   Sounds like there may be a few issues in the old Keene household these days.
Let’s go with the police instead and ask our local leaders.
Hey Mayor Cecconi and Judge Settles, how much and how many officers will you need to patrol all our schools in Washington County properly? I’m sure you have the money and budget for it. Why stop at the schools? How about the daycare centers, restaurants, rest homes, banks and so on? The big cities would be in even more trouble than we would be, though many have some armed guards already.
The fact is, even armed guards don’t always work.  
Ask Sheriff’s Deputy Neil Gardner of Colorado, who was questioned about this by the Daily News. He’s a 28-year veteran. Neil Gardner was stationed at Columbine High School in 1999 and was one of the first responders when 13 people died and 28 were wounded in that massacre of school children by the use of assault weapons.  He thinks armed guards would help, but he also told the Daily News  “he supports a ban on assault weapons.”
The Columbine gunmen were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.  
Harris unloaded his assault rifle on Gardner, who shot back with his 45-caliber semi-automatic pistol.  He missed Harris.  
“If you live through a school shooting, you understand you really don’t need these weapons,” Gardner, 57, said. “I don’t know why a normal person would need an assault rifle.”
Neither do I.  
Team up the assault weapons with high capacity magazines and you have a deadly mess.
I think we should attempt to regulate these firearms at the beginning of this deadly cycle, not at the end, by producing even more weapons so we “can fight it out” with crazed killers.  It just makes for a bigger “war,” and it is a war, with gun incidents happening every day across our country.
The NRA’s major gun manufacturer supporters inadvertently make money at both ends of this “war.”  
They ultimately sell to both sides whether they mean to or not.  
So, a bigger war means bigger profits.
How many guns are there currently in America?
The best estimate is about 300,000,000.
That is roughly 100 times more than what is held by the U.S. Army, U.S. Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Coast Guard combined.
Think about it.
Do you really believe a few more million weapons to “fight back” will change anything?
Final thought.
I have one friend that was a First Sergeant with a unit in Iraq at the height of the war.  A defining moment in his life came when a mortar landed in the fort and some 10 people were tore to pieces.  His unit had to go down to the scene and gather up body parts.  I don’t think he will ever be the same.
My own feeling is that if  David and Wayne of the NRA had to go down to these massacre sites like Newtown and clean the blood, flesh, brains and bone of young kids off the floor and walls, then they might, just might, change their minds.
I just don’t think that is ever going to happen.
You old men should be ashamed of yourself.