This article was originally published on OpsLens.com on Nov 10th, 2016.
By Chris Wagoner:
Well, I have to tell you what inspired me to write this Op-ed was how blatant the misinformation and fear of an inanimate object can drastically alter perception versus reality. In many cases, out of such fear, people do, say, and write extremely uneducated things about topics they know very little about.
I read a story written by Helen Ubinas, a journalist (@Notesfromhel), who, the day after the Pulse Night Club shooting, wanted to see how easy it was to buy an AR-15 rifle. What she failed to realize, if that she should have educated herself about firearms and how to purchase them before trying to write a story, is that law abiding citizens can purchase them in an efficient manner. The title of her article kind of gives you an idea of the slant that it takes, “I bought an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in Philly in 7 minutes.”
My first response to that title was that is pretty good customer service for most gun stores! My problem I have is I know all the guys and girls in my local stores and I always spend an hour or two or three just shooting the breeze and talking about guns and training. So, to be able to buy an AR-15 in 7 minutes speaks highly of the shop and the system as a whole. First let’s be clear; she is not a prohibited person. She is not a wanted or convicted felon. She is not addicted to drugs or alcohol (at least she swore to that on the ATF form) and she has not been diagnosed as mentally incompetent. So why should she not be able to buy an AR-15? Did she have evil intentions? No, she thought she was proving a point. And she did, but maybe not the one she meant to. More on that later.
So, she walks into a Philly gun store and tells the sales person she wants to buy an AR-15, but is on a budget. She goes onto say how “insanely easy” it was to buy the gun, fill out some paperwork, undergo a background check, and once passed pay for the rifle and out the door she went. Now, at this point is where she went terribly wrong with her whole premise. She says that the easy access to guns is why we have all the problems, murders and various other ailments in the US (even though Murder is at an all-time low over the last 25 years or so, according to the FBI UCR Reports on Violent Crime). She states in here article “If it wasn’t so appallingly easy to get a gun in this country, it wouldn’t be easy for the next gunman to deliver the kind of carnage that’s as much a part of this country as the American flag.” She goes onto mention the Newtown, Conn shooting and says “If it wasn’t so easy to get a gun in this country, another gunman who came before him wouldn’t have been able to use the same kind of firearm to kill elementary-school children in Newtown, Conn.” REALLY!?! Did she not research her story at all? The Newtown, Conn mass murderer shot his own mother to death to gain access to guns. He didn’t go buy them at a store.
Many people do not understand firearms because they fear them and don’t think rationally or try to understand something they are afraid of. I was always taught that if you face your fear and try to understand it, you will no longer fear it. I had a simple experiment that she could have done that would have helped her understand how it’s the person not the firearm that is the problem. Load that new rifle, place it in an obvious place in your home and watch it very carefully! It will not shoot and kill anyone, it will not go out and commit a mass murder, and in fact it will not even go off, not once! You see it’s the person behind the trigger that is the issue, not the firearm itself.
Ms. Ubinas took her firearm to a local police department and turned it over to them. Well at least law enforcement got a new firearm to use. And now in the hands of one of the officers, that same firearm she was so afraid of could be used to cause death and mayhem, could actually save a life. She proved her own premise was nothing more than just plain lack of education on firearms and fear, unreasonable, unwarranted fear of firearms.
Over the years, I have told more people than I can count that firearms are not evil. They are not mass murderers, and they do not kill people. It’s the person behind the trigger that is the issue. I carried a firearm for more than 36 years now, and had to use mine three times to defend my life or the lives of others. The firearm I used had nothing to do with the shootings, other than being the tool I had to use at the time to protect myself and others. Firearms are NOT ALIVE and DO NOT DECIDE TO KILL. I get so tired of trying to explain to people who have this irrational fear of firearms for some reason that they are not bad, evil things. They are tools that are used by many people for good and righteous things. Protecting lives, hunting for food (I only hunt what I eat), and for sport.
I invite Ms. Ubinas to join me for an afternoon at the gun range for some instruction and shooting time. I think that after actually seeing how safe firearms can be, when handled correctly and by people that are not intent on mass murder, she might have more information to base her writing on. You see firearms availability is not the issue. Firearms with 30 round magazines are not the issue, and the looks or design of the firearm is not the problem. Evil in the hearts of some people is the problem. After all of my years as a cop, I have seen the evil that one person can do to another. Pure unadulterated evil, and it has nothing to do with the tool used. I have seen humans use knives, bats, ice picks, pipes, boards, swords, and all manner of other weapon used to kill and mutilate other humans. It would not have mattered what was used, the person that committed those acts would have done so regardless of the availability of firearms. Education is the key to understanding the issues as they exist in reality.
Ask yourself these questions and if you can answer them, then you are way more informed than the supposedly professional journalist. What percentage of firearms deaths is done with a rifle vs. handgun? What percentage of all murders is done with a firearm? What weapons are used more than firearms? You can find the answer to these and other questions you may have in the FBI’s Report on Violent Crime in America. What you may find, may (or may not) surprise you. Firearms are not the issue that they are made out to be. Millions of firearms are in the hands of law abiding citizens and never have caused, and never will cause, any injuries or deaths. It’s not the firearm that is the issue, it’s the person behind the trigger. Make guns illegal and only criminals will have guns, since they don’t follow the laws anyway. Don’t let fear run your life and blind your intellect.
As I said before Ms. Ubinas was trying to prove a point, that it is easy to buy a firearm in the US. She is partially correct. For a person who is not a felon, not addicted to drugs or alcohol, not deemed mentally incompetent and is otherwise known as a law-abiding citizen in most circles, it should not be difficult to buy a firearm. Again, she simply proved the store she chose for her “experiment” followed the rules, did the background check, and had impeccable customer service!