Let’s deal with reality, not the National Rifle Association’s fantasy.

The all-too-frequent mass shootings — defined by the FBI as a shooting with four or more victims — have little to do with “mental problems.”

According to the American Psychiatric Association, less than 4% of gun violence (that is ALL gun violence, not just mass shootings) is committed by mentally ill people. In fact, the association points out that the mentally ill are much more likely to be the victims, not perpetrators.

While our nation’s leader points to grisly and gruesome video games as one cause of the rising tide of violence, that is, to put it mildly, so much BS.

The same video games are played in South Korea, India, European countries, Australia and many more. Yet those countries do not have anywhere near the number of mass murders that this country does.

Those who tally such things have calculated that the U.S. has several times the number of mass shootings of any other country.

As to social media, there is no doubt that this enables white supremacists to support one another, but there is no evidence that this form of communication leads to mass shootings.

Nope, it is all about ideology and guns, particularly the latter. Those obsessed with returning to an all-white country and hating anyone who is black or brown are deluded, but they are a very small percentage of the total population.

However, what makes this small percentage so deadly is that they have access to the most efficient killing machines. The shooter in Dayton, Ohio, for example shot at least 40 rounds in 30 seconds. Either he pulled the trigger on his semi-automatic assault rifle very fast or he had it altered.

That, then, is what makes the ideologically challenged dangerous. A vast majority of the mass shootings have been committed with an AR-15, an AK-47 or some other weapon designed for, and used by, the military.

These assault weapons are not used for hunting deer or rabbits or other large, medium or small game. Assault weapons have one purpose: to kill PEOPLE.

To make matters worse, these guns can, and do, accommodate 25, 30, 50 or more rounds in their magazines, which allows them to fire whatever is in the magazine without reloading (which takes time).

The shooter in Dayton had a “drum” with a capacity of 100 rounds. That is important. If assault weapons are banned and magazines are limited to, say, 10 rounds or less, fewer people would be killed or injured.

There would still be deluded or deranged individuals who would attempt to kill or injure, but the number would be vastly reduced.

The reason is simple: A military-style semi-automatic (or automatic) rifle can be fired rapidly and end up killing and injuring many. Not so with a hunting-style rifle. The typical .30-06 rifle, or bolt-action rifle, simply cannot be fired rapidly, and deaths and injuries are minimized. Not eliminated, but minimized.

As has been seen in Las Vegas, San Bernardino, Portland and, most recently, El Paso and Dayton, military-style assault weapons are very good at accomplishing their purpose. Add it all up, and hundreds have died. Even more have been seriously injured since the ban on assault weapons ended in 2004.

That is correct. Beginning in 1994 and continuing until 2004, no assault weapons were legally sold in this country. That was deemed not to be a violation of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The response by elected leaders after a mass shooting has been to offer “thoughts and prayers.” While that is as it should be to survivors or family members, it is reactive and does nothing to prevent further killings. What is needed is something proactive, as well as reactive.

Stronger background checks? Sure. But that is just a baby step and one that is easily taken.

It is past time for studying the problem. We know what the problem is: The ruling party in D.C. does not represent all of the people in this country. It represents the corporations that profit from the manufacture and sale of assault weapons.

The corporations donate copious amounts to the NRA, and the NRA funds the campaigns of bought-and-paid-for politicians. It is estimated that the NRA funded our president’s election by $31 million, according to one site, $21 million according to another.

Fortunately, a few brave and conscientious retailers — led by Dick’s and followed by others, notably Walmart, here in Columbia — have not sipped the Kool-Aid of the gun lobby. Other retailers in this town seem to be more interested in profits than lives at stake.

Now is the time for action. It is time for our leaders to explain to the NRA that its money and support do not buy their vote.

The time is here when the citizenry is, and will continue to be, outraged by the lack of action by our elected officials.

They need to make a choice. Act or be voted out. To put it in Missouri (cleaned up) terms: Do something or get off the pot.

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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