Dave Greegor: What is the legacy we are leaving with assault weapons?

Second Amendment

By Dave Greegor

What is it that has led us to believe that it is acceptable for a private citizen to carry around an assault weapon (AW), designed specifically for war, for mass destruction in split-seconds? The National Rifle Association calls it “America’s Rifle.” Instead, we’re using AWs to kill school children. Are we insane? Pre-1980 we would have been beyond horrified if school children were slaughtered like fish in a barrel.

Washingtonians have elected a governor and senators who support the ban of AWs, but Idaho has not. Why not? We’re neighbors and our constituency should not be that much different, yet it apparently is, or Idaho would quit supporting politicians who oppose a ban on, essentially, the killing of children.

In 2019, a poll found that 55% of GOP voters were comfortable with banning assault weapons. A Gallup poll recently found Americans’ dissatisfaction with U.S. gun laws has risen to 63%, an increase of seven points over 2022. A Fox News poll found 61% of Americans support a ban, yet Idaho politicians pay no attention to those statistics. The Second Amendment solely drives their defense. Idaho is one of the 10 states that rejects a ban and have elected a governor and senators who don’t. While Washington residents may vary in their support, they still voted for a governor and senators who supported a ban?

No other country compares to the U.S. in numbers of school gun incidents. The Washington Post has been tracking school mass shootings and has found that since Columbine (1999), 380 school shootings have occurred with 352,000 students affected. In 2022, 46 school shootings occurred (a record) and 2023 is on pace to top last year.

In fairness, the U.S. House passed the 2022 AW ban, but the Senate has not voted on it because proponents don’t have the sixty votes needed to pass into law (they need 10 more). As expected, the opposition follows party lines. Currently the Senate does have an AWs bill working through (S. 25). Instead of a ban, proponents of minimal gun regulation espouse the mantra that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” As an alternative, they advocate rounding up the mentally ill, treating them, and the problem will evaporate. Other advanced democracies have similar proportions of mentally ill people, yet they haven’t hesitated to ban AWs, and they have essentially no mass shootings. New Zealand, Norway, U.K., and Australia banned AWs after a single shooting. No other country compares to the U.S. in numbers of school gun incidents.

Jim Risch and Mike Crapo are my senators, so between May 23 and June 5, I called both of their offices a total of seven times to get their specific position on the ban. Yes or no. I knew they were opposed to any gun regulations, but didn’t know their position on the ban. No response. Sen. Risch did email me May 23, stating, “I will continue to fight all efforts to restrict our Second Amendment rights, including efforts to even ‘chip away’ those rights a little at a time,” – a lame, knee-jerk defense. I already knew Sens. Cantwell and Murray’s position on gun control, and I’ve assumed they are in favor of a ban.

The lack of a ban has allowed the increasingly regular slaughter of the most precious asset this country has: children. It is true that guns alone don’t kill children; guns just lie there until someone picks them up and uses them, in this case to kill school children, children who won’t live to see the next day. Opponents of an assault weapons ban, by default, are condoning and enabling the senseless mass murder of children. They will have to live their lives knowing that they allowed the implementation of the most effective child murder machine in the history of this country.

Have we reached a level so low in this country that allows the murder of children? Is this how little we respect human life? If the founding fathers had realized that the writing of the Second Amendment would have led to this, they would have been horrified and probably changed the language. “You can defend yourself, so you can carry your AR-15 (musket) to a rally (town square), but don’t shoot anybody, even though your AR-15 (musket) is intended to kill the Taliban (British).” We’re sending children to their potential death and to learn to take cover when they should be reading Dick and Jane. School children are living in a state of fear every day. Is this to be our legacy? Are our great-grandchildren going to remember us as the spineless jellyfish generation that permitted our children to be butchered?

Dave Greegor is a retired Ph.D. ecologist based out of Boise. Greegor Peak in Antarctica is named in his honor.

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