Guest Columnist

To ban guns or not ban guns; that is the question

Firearms with silencers lie on the floor at a gun range at the NRA headquarters, in Fairfax, Va., on March 20, 2017. (Ali Rizvi/McClatchy/TNS)
Firearms with silencers lie on the floor at a gun range at the NRA headquarters, in Fairfax, Va., on March 20, 2017. (Ali Rizvi/McClatchy/TNS)
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The recent shooting in Florida, like all past mass shootings, is tragic. I cannot begin to understand what parents feel, who lose a child, how they cope, or how they function after living through the worst day of their lives.

I am not trivializing victims of criminal activity but I am pointing out how the media and public leaders at all levels are trivializing certain criminal acts by not providing the same amount of media coverage and showing their hypocrisy with their solutions and calls to action.

According to the FBI, Uniform Crime Reporting tool for 2016, there were 15,070 murders reported in the United States. Of those murders, 374 of were committed by criminals with rifles, 4,066 were perpetrated by knives or cutting weapons, other weapons, and hands, fists, or feet. There were 10,497 drunken driving deaths in the United States in 2016.

The term assault weapon and semi automatic is misleading when talking about the AR platform and rifles in general. The term semi automatic gives non-firearm people an impression that there is a way to make the firearm fully automatic and AR does not stand for assault rifle. AR stands for Armalite rifle, for the company that created the platform in mid-1950s.

You can buy “hunting style” rifles that are semi-automatic and have detachable magazines in the traditional calibers that AR platforms are sold. A “hunting-style” rifle can have its barrel threaded to accept a flash suppressor, sound suppressor, or compensator just like an AR platform.

How do you regulate behavior? We are humans and not robots. The government cannot control what people think and how they act no matter what is banned or made criminally liable. Alcohol once was outlawed, and certain types of drugs are illegal in all 50 states under federal law.

Why do guns get blamed for deaths people caused by firearms? Cars don’t kill people without drunken or distracted drivers behind the wheel, pressure cookers don’t kill people unless they are turned into bombs by terrorists and placed into a crowd, and guns don’t kill people unless they are being handled by a criminal who is pulling the trigger and trying to kill innocent people. The only time a shooting is not blamed on a gun is when a law enforcement officer shoots a bad guy. The law enforcement officer is blamed.

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During former president Barack Obama’s Newtown, Conn., speech, he said “If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.”

Teachers were allowed to be armed in five California school districts: North Cow Creek, Kern High School District, Kingsburg Joint Union High School District; Folsom Cordova Unified School District; and Anderson Union High School District.

Democrats in California’s state Legislature passed a bill stripping authority to arm teachers away from the districts. Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law.

So much for Obama’s approach to try a different solution.

I have not seen one gun-free zone protect people from a mass shooting. If trained armed personnel are not the answer to help protect kids in schools, what new federal law will prevent mass killings?

• John Maddock of Monticello is a federal law enforcement officer and former U.S. Marine who teaches active shooter response and conducts security assessments for schools. His three children attend public schools and his wife is a public school teacher.

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