Last week, retiring Gen. Stanley McCrystal made a stir when he suggested that America ought to take a look at enacting new gun control laws. Specifically, McCrystal said he supports banning military firearms such as M4 and M16 rifles. Such weapons are already banned from civilian ownership except in very few cases, and have been since 1934. Such weapons have played no role in any of the recent shootings that have been in the national headlines.
“I carried an assault weapon for many years, an M4 carbine. I think it’s the best weapon of its type in the world. Shoots a 5.56 round at 3000 feet per second. When it hits human flesh, it’s devastating. And if you see it up close, you know you don’t want it around our schools, you don’t want it on our streets.”
The M4 is not on our streets, at least not legally as a fully automatic weapon. The 5.56 round is fired by many other rifles besides the M4. It is similar in size to the .223 round, and is on the smaller side of rifle rounds that are available to civilians. The devastation an M4 brings upon its target is as much a result of its fully automatic fire rate as from its ammunition.
Gen. McCrystal continued: “I’m not an expert on gun control or the Second Amendment, but I am an expert on that kind of weapon. And I’m an expert on how I fee about my family. So what I want is a national conversation, a mature national conversation, that figures out how we protect innocent people from that kind of weaponry.”
How mature can that conversation be, when so many of its most prominent participants know nothing about current gun laws and refuse to learn anything about them? They admit that they know nothing, as McCrystal does here, yet opine anyway.
Host Chris Salcedo pointed out that with our porous border and lack of ability to control the illegal drug trade, only criminals will have firepower if civilians cannot legally own it.
“Think about the children of Newtown,” McCrystal said in reply. “That is not a philosophical argument. That’s a bloody reality, and that’s the kind of thing that I want us to talk about.”
The Second Amendment is also not a philosophical argument. It is a constitutional guarantee.
The weapons that Gen. McCrystal consistently brings up are already banned. They played no role in the recent shootings. They are not among the most powerful available, no matter what the weapons look like. They factor in fewer murders per year than hammers do. Proper incarceration of murders would have saved the lives of the two firefighters murdered in New York State, by a felon who reportedly used a straw purchaser to obtain his weapons. An armed guard or faculty member would have had the chance to save all those children at Sandy Hook from an armed madman. “Gun Free Zone” signs may as well be painted to look like targets, for all the good they do in protecting innocent life.
Do the facts have any place in this “mature” discussion, General?