AK-47s -- "Not uncommon"

October 9, 2006

Posted by Jay Livingston

Another school shooting, this one in Joplin, Missouri. The shooter was a thirteen-year-old Columbine wannabe. Fortunately, the gun jammed after the first shot, which was fired at the ceiling, so the only damage was a burst water pipe.
Living in the Northeast, I sometimes forget what the rest of the country is like. What really struck me was not that it was another school shooting— like most other good Americans, I’ve gotten used to these. It was these sentences from the AP story

The student left, and officers arrested him behind a nearby building. Police described his weapon as a Mac-90, a replica of an AK-47 assault rifle. . . . .
Jones said the gun belonged to the boy's parents. Farmer said it is not uncommon for people in the area to own assault weapons.
Not uncommon! Lots of folks have them. I wonder what they use these military assault rifles for.

It’s also interesting that these latest school shootings have not brought any calls for stricter gun laws. Polls consistently show a majority of Americans in favor of stricter gun controls. But gun laws, especially in the last 15-20 years, have basically been written by the NRA, even though these policies reflect a minority view. Most of the country has come to accept these laws as inevitable and therefore not worth talking about. In the latest spate of shootings, very few, if any, of the news reports on these shootings asked the NRA to defend its position. It’s as though the issue, for better or worse, has been settled and that the availability of very deadly weapons is sort of like the weather, a condition nobody can do anything about.

The CBS news website has a nice interactive map — click on a state and see a brief description of its rules on gun licences, sales, etc., and its rate of firearms deaths. New York and New Jersey have about 5 gun deaths for every 100,000 residents. States in the West and South, with more guns and fewer gun laws, have gun death rates double or in some cases triple that.


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