America is, by far, the most gun-sodden nation on earth. With only 4.5 percent of world population, we’re the proud owners of over 40 percent of all guns. Here’s how this terrible distinction came about:
Some years ago, I was living alone in Miami, Florida, with few responsibilities. I was fairly young and, other than locating my next cheeseburger, I had few worries.
It seemed like a good time to fulfill an important item on my bucket list, sailing o’er the bounding main in my own trawler. The tug of the Caribbean Sea, the Bahamas, Bermuda and the distant and romantic Crooked Island was palpable.
So I set about to buy two items critical to the trip. First was a used but clean, single-masted trawler, a 37-footer previously owned by Merv Griffin. Next, since I was to sail into Caribbean waters populated with a few pirates, was a high-powered assault weapon. I specifically wanted a stainless steel, folding stock, easy-to-conceal Mini-14.
The Mini-14 is a smaller version of the M-14, the weapon the U.S. Army trained me to use during the Vietnam War. So I was comfortable with the Mini, a deadly little beast of a compact weapon. If you know how to use it, you can change high-capacity clips so fast the weapon can fire upward of 150 rounds (bullets) per minute. That means the semi-auto Mini-14 is actually a low-fire machine gun. It’s almost as good a people-killing device as its father, the M-14.
The Mini-14, the AR-15, the AK-47 and numerous others are all chambered for high-velocity, military grade rounds – we’re talking half a mile a second. The purpose of such bullet speed is to cause extremely wide and horrible tissue damage. Of course, the desired end result is the slaughter of as many humans as possible in a short amount of time. The Mini was the weapon of choice for two thugs who killed two FBI agents and wounded five others in a terrible Miami shootout.
Well, some years ago, when I heard the National Rifle Association was fighting every law being considered concerning the sale of these type weapons to just about anyone who could pull a trigger, I called its office. I explained I was a card-carrying member and if they did not stop promoting such ridiculously easy gun access to sometimes dangerous people, I would cancel my membership. I was told that the NRA leadership felt that any law would be giving an inch that would result in a mile being taken by the anti-gun crowd. I canceled.
That single, callous NRA strategy has created America’s current grim gun reality. Which is, on average:
▪ 48 children and teens shot every day – 17,500 a year
▪ 297 total people shot every day – 108,400 a year
▪ 89 people a day dead because of guns – 32,500 a year
▪ 30 percent to 40 percent of all guns sold, estimated at about 11 million yearly, delivered without a Brady Background Check
If all that doesn’t move you, consider what else the millions-strong army of the NRA has been stockpiling for years.
With both hands, the NRA’s followers are snapping up high-capacity clips; optical, thermal and infra-red sights and scopes; all the ammunition they can afford; 50 caliber, 1.5-mile-range sniper rifles; silencers; flash suppressors; and one new piece of equipment, something called a Bump-Fire slide-stock. That little piece of work converts semi-auto assault rifles to a fire rate of about 400 rounds per minute. That’s big-time machine gun grade rate-of-fire. Talk about slaughter!
Brace yourself. It’s going to be a long and ever-more deadly 21st century for America, unless we find a way to neutralize the NRA.
Don Hess of Raleigh is an Army-trained weapons expert.