There is nothing worse than a bigot with a gun

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The attack on Orlando LGBT club Pulse on Saturday night was carried out – like so many mass shootings before it – with an assault rifle, of the “AR-15 type”. These weapons have the ability to fire hundreds of rounds per minute, spraying waves of hot lead and fire, giving the shooter the power to mete out death on an industrial scale.

The NRA and its supporters have fanatically lobbied to keep these weapons cheap, legal and easy to obtain, in spite of the fact that there is no sporting use for them. You can’t hunt deer with an assault rifle. Animal targets would vaporize if struck by a single round.

Their utility in stopping a home invasion is questionable, but this is true of all guns. According to the FBI, for every case of “justifiable homicide” with a firearm in the US – that’s to say, a self-defense shooting – there are 32 murders, suicides or accidental gun deaths. The overwhelming weight of evidence says that the high rate of gun ownership in this country makes us less safe, not more…

There are many people who insist they “need” a gun – particularly an assault weapon – to feel safe. But unless you are a marine in Fallujah or a Chicago SWAT cop, you don’t “need” anything of the sort. You want it, and not in any kind of reasonable way. It’s either because you’re a sociopath or you’re unreasonably afraid. Neither one of those states is a valid place from which to make the decision.

Perhaps this moment will be a kind of tipping point where the US comes to its senses and starts placing some reasonable restrictions on the owning and trafficking of firearms. My hopes, however, are not high.

After Sandy Hook – when we as a nation heaved a deep, sad sigh over the deaths of an entire schoolroom full of children, then looked away and did nothing – I’ve come to see my countrymen’s gun obsession as an unreasoning dependency, like an alcoholic steadily drinking herself to death.

I would like to believe that we’ll learn something from this, but in truth, the thing I think we’re mostly likely to learn is that when we’re in public – especially in previously safe spaces like gay bars and churches – we need to keep one eye constantly on the nearest exit and always be ready to run.

David Ferguson’s opinion in The GUARDIAN is sad but true. I don’t expect many of our nation’s newspapers to publish anything like it. They are run by cowards. I expect most electronic media – from TV talking heads to online pulpits – will not publish anything like it. They are run by cowards. I expect most politicians, office-holders by virtue of being elected by American citizens – the overwhelming majority of whom support regulated vetting of gun purchases, an end to the sale of assault weapons – will lack the courage and foresight to echo David Ferguson’s good sense. They are cowards.

I have been a gun owner for over 60 years. I don’t hunt anymore. No longer any interest in target shooting. I still own 3 guns – none of which are assault rifles. I support a return to that ban in a heartbeat. I would stand in line to vote for restrictive regulation, oversight and licensing for all guns. I would welcome the debate over details and limits because limits are needed in this nation which would rather protect bigots with guns than ordinary unarmed citizens.