Last week, I wrote about assault weapons and why sales and purchases should be banned.

It has occurred to me that the root of many mass shootings is hatred and bigotry. Sometimes, it is easy to blame and hate the “other.”

For instance, the shooter in El Paso revealed his motive in a creed online. He feared a Mexican invasion and wanted to kill Latinos.

It is also easy to determine the motive in the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando: The shooter hated homosexuals.

There have been many other mass shootings where the motives were based on hatred, often about religion or white supremacy.

Other times, the motive is not at all apparent. After several months, the motive of the shooter in Las Vegas is still unknown. Likewise, the motive of the suspect in the Dayton shooting remains unclear.

No doubt, the motives of many mass shooters are uncertain or speculative. The motive of the shooter in Las Vegas will likely never be known, other than just a wish to kill a lot of people. His motive died with him.

That is why I have focused on weapons of war. It is much easier to take away a very efficient killing tool than to change minds distorted by hatred and bigotry.

The followers of Dylann Roof (the shooter at Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston) will not admit it publicly, but privately they hold the same racist beliefs.

It is very difficult, perhaps impossible, to dispel beliefs instilled since childhood. My father was not at all an evil man, but since he was a child, he had been taught that the white race was quite superior.

I, too, grew up with that belief, but thanks to exposure to other philosophies through reading a lot and my experiences in the U.S. Army, I now believe firmly in equality.

Likewise with homicides, suicides and automobile accidents. Very few homicides are associated with assault weapons. As far as is known, no suicides have been committed with weapons of war.

Most homicides and suicides require just one bullet, not many.

No one sets out to kill with an automobile; these are truly accidents. They do kill and maim many each year, but there have been successful attempts to reduce their severity — seat belts, airbags (which can release and inflate with violent contact) and improved infant seats.

But rather than having the feds tromp through houses in search of banned assault weapons, the experience in Australia may provide guidance.

After many concerns, that country banned certain types of guns (including assault weapons) and instituted a buyback program. That country has, through that program, bought over 650,000 weapons.

The result is a plummeting suicide and homicide rate and NO mass shootings. No jackbooted federal agents were involved. The country recognized the problem and took immediate and effective steps to solve it.

It should be noted that the buyback program was for ALL types of guns, not just assault weapons.

Likewise, New Zealand banned assault weapons after the Christchurch mass shooting.

There has not been a problem with mass shootings in most European countries, with the notable exception of Paris. French officials blamed that on ISIS.

I hasten to add, as I did in my Opinion column a week ago, that deranged and bigoted people will continue to set out to kill “others.” But without weapons of war, they will not be able to kill or injure nearly as many.

There is also a major problem with those who supply banned weapons and the continuing problem of AR-15s and AK-47s already in the hands of those who would do harm to others. There will, no doubt, be a “black market” established for illegal assault weapons sales.

A ban would not conflict with the Second Amendment. Several states have already banned the sale and purchase of assault weapons. Courts have upheld those decisions, declaring that a ban on assault weapons does not violate the Second Amendment.

Those who have rifles, shotguns and pistols should have no fear that the “dammed gummit” would be taking those away. Only those weapons having only one purpose — to kill or injure people — would be banned.

For those who claim that these assault rifles will be used only as a defense, tell that to the people in El Paso or Dayton.

The NRA claim that the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun is so much poppycock. A good guy with a pistol is worthless against a bad guy with an an AR-15 or AK-47.

A good guy with a gun got himself shot in Umpqua Community College in Oregon.

It is well past time that these weapons of war should be banned.


About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

Ken Midkiff, formerly the director of the Sierra Club Clean Water Campaign, is now chair of the city’s Environment and Energy Commission and serves on the board of directors of the Great Rivers Environmental Law Center.

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