Countering the Anti-Gun Narrative in the Wake of Uvalde, TX
“But to ban guns because criminals use them is to tell the innocent and law-abiding that their rights and liberties depend not on their own conduct, but on the conduct of the guilty and the lawless, and that the law will permit them to have only such rights and liberties as the lawless will allow… For society does not control crime, ever, by forcing the law-abiding to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of criminals. Society controls crime by forcing the criminals to accommodate themselves to the expected behavior of the law-abiding.” – Jeffrey R. Snyder
I’ve waited a week to write this article, and I do so with the greatest reverence for the tragedy experienced by the families and friends of the 21 people whose innocent lives were taken at the hands of a depraved and demented individual in Uvalde, TX. By defending the rights of the people to keep and bear arms, I in no way intend to diminish the tragedy that occurred in a fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School on May 24, 2022. Indeed, it is because of their loss that this message is so pertinent and timely so as to minimize the possibility of future attacks of this sort against the softest of soft targets – elementary schools.
How, then, can I say that this pro-gun post is somehow pro-life? I get to that in Problem #8.
The weapon now targeted by the anti-gun left is the most popular sporting rifle in the country – and it has been used with such frequency to commit atrocities in such places as Buffalo, NY; Sandy Hook Elementary; and now Uvalde, TX. One might think that even the staunchest of pro-2A supporters would concede that the AR-15 needs to be banned.
The stated goal of these bans, of course, is to end mass shootings once and for all. If there are no “weapons of war” in private hands, then it stands to reason that mass shootings will end.
I say bollocks, and what follows is my justification.
When the political left responds to such tragedies as Uvalde and Sandy Hook, the blame is invariably put on the gun. Every time. To add to the macabre moment, the anti-gun pundits and politicians, before the bodies are even cold, run to a mic to pontificate about how awful Republicans are and how the NRA puts guns ahead of the lives of children.
We hear about weapons of war and are fed hyperbolic descriptions of what the AR-15 can do to the human body. And, right on cue, those readers and viewers who align themselves with the pundits and politicians take to social media and repeat the talking points ad nauseum without a hint of individual thought about the message.
Ingest and regurgitate. That’s how it works.
So, I present to you the logical and unemotional assessment of the illogical and hysterical call to ban guns in the wake of any mass shooting.
Keep in mind that this missive isn’t just for the enlightenment of the anti-gun crowd; it’s also directed at 2A supporters whose arguments start and stop with, “From my cold dead hands!” Both sides need a good lesson in the logic of the matter. I hope this piece helps.
The problems, as listed below, are in no particular order of importance with the exception of Problem #8, which was placed intentionally last.
Problem #1A – The Abundance of Firearms
To date, the best estimates state that some 100 million citizens hold some 400 million firearms in their possession. They range from relatively ancient collectibles to modern sporting rifles. Conservative estimates put the number of civilian AK- and AR-platform rifles in the US at about 1/4 of the total number of firearms (that’s ~100 million, for the non-math people out there). These rifles have been sold in the US for more than half a century, so there are a BUNCH of them out there.
If the powers-that-be pass legislation that bans these rifles (vis a vis Beto Orourke’s “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15. Your AK-47.”), that legislation will be powerless to collect the rifles already in private hands. Ban production, sale, transfer and use of the weapons. No problem. That’s doable (although arguably unconstitutional).
But there are more than 100 million of them already in private hands. If agents of the state decide that they’re going to go door to door to gather them up, they’d better prepare for a civil-war level response by AR-15 owners who went from legal gun owner to felon with the stroke of a pen. That level of tyranny is the very reason many of them have their AR-15s in the first place.
Problem #1B – The Impossibility of Confiscation
They – the powers that be- talk about mandatory buybacks, but buybacks assume that those who have contempt for the law will choose to obey the mandate. Consider this: if you had a tool that would make you a god among men once the government strips everyone else of that tool, how likely are you to surrender that tool for a couple hundred bucks? People like power (which is all gun-control schemes are – power grabs), so anyone who is already prone to run afoul of the law is certainly going to hold on to those rifles. They imbue nearly-unlimited power in the face of a disarmed public.
Mandatory buybacks are what I call “cooperative confiscation.” It’s a form of double-speak that politicians use. “We’re not confiscating anyone’s guns.” Technically, that’s true. They aren’t coming to your door and taking your guns. They’re just telling you to willingly surrender them… or else. It’s confiscation by proxy.
Thus, would-be rampage killers will always have access to guns no matter what bans are put in place. Worse yet, their targets will consist of largely disarmed victims. That’s a lose-lose proposition.
Problem #2 – Rifles are the Tip of the Iceberg
Sporting rifles get a bad rap because the media likes to fixate on the preferred weapon that a mass shooter uses in his rampage. After the Sandy Hook massacre, the AR-15 jumped into prominence as THE weapon for anti-gun proponents to target for eradication. Several mass shooters since then have used the AR-15 to shed innocent blood, thus cementing its legacy as an agent of mass murder.
Prior to Sandy Hook, a mentally disturbed man carried a Glock 19 and a Walther P22 (both handguns) to Virginia Tech and killed 32 innocent people. No rifle necessary. The seminal school shooting in our time, Columbine, was perpetuated by two teens carrying two pistols, a pair of sawed-off shotguns, and a Hi-Point carbine rifle. Most of the murders were committed with the pistols and shotguns. Handguns are, in fact, the preferred weapon in some 77% of mass shootings.
If the government were to somehow miraculously eradicate all of the AK- and AR-platform rifles from the American landscape, would-be shooters would just change their weapon of choice, which brings us to…
Problem #3 – Criminals Will Find a Way
Create a law that targets criminal activity and criminals will find a way around it. Banning firearms (irrespective of the type) will only force criminals into devising creative workarounds. Again, assuming weapons bans are in place, would-be killers will just steal guns from friends, family members, or strangers, or they will buy them from someone selling them out of a trunk in a dark alley.
So we ban ALL guns (a solution often mentioned by the anti-gun crowd), right? I refer you to Problem #1 above. But, again assuming that miraculous total removal of guns from private hands were achieved, criminals would resort to other means.
Once upon a time, before the advent of gunpowder and repeating arms, warfare was conducted with the blade with pretty gruesome results. England found their post-gun-ban blade problem such an issue that they banned carrying knives in public, too.
Whatever ban is implemented, people bent on hurting others will find a workaround. Prison inmates are banned from having weapon and other contraband, yet such items are routinely found in their possession. The belief that banning guns will end gun violence will be met with similar issues.
Problem #4 – 3D Printers and Homemade Weapons
With the advent of 3D printing technologies, it has become all-too-easy to buy a program that enables users to print weapon components. In fact, plans for 3D-printed rifles and grenade launchers are available online. These plans are so reliable that in 2021, Myanmar guerilla fighters were spotted carrying printed FGC-9 (F*** Gun Control-9) on the battlefield. This marks what is believed to be the first use of a printed rifle in combat.
OK, OK. I know what you’re thinking. “3D printing a gun is expensive and impractical.” Yep, but not beyond the scope of determined individuals on a mission of death. However…
Consider that a simple trip to your local hardware store can result in a homemade shotgun that has all the lethality of a rifle at a fraction of the cost. If the high cost of printing a gun is out of reach, a $20 solution can be found at the local home center.
Problem #5 – Guns Save More Lives Than They Take
Estimates put the number of lives saved annually by firearms at somewhere between 400,000 and 2.5 million. The AR-15 is an easily handled, low-recoil firearm that is practically ready-made for home defense and personal protection from social unrest (recall the Kyle Rittenhouse affair). That particular rifle is especially good for women to handle, despite “Shotgun Joe’s” assertion that women should just “buy a shotgun!“
If agents of the state succeed in banning these weapons, the collateral damage will be untold thousands of victims who lose their lives to criminals – people with weapons that they didn’t surrender during the mandated buy-back period.
Problem #6 – It’s a Matter of Rights
While I know that the Second Amendment has long been a thorn in the sides of anti-gun proponents, the fact remains that our Constitution has established that “the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” This right to individual gun ownership was upheld in the DC v Heller decision in 2008.
Barring a repeal of the Second Amendment, which is a very long and arduous process, any bans on firearms are, by definition, unconstitutional.
Problem #7 – Weapons Bans Don’t Work
In 1994, President Clinton signed into law the Federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB). The ban prohibited the manufacture and sale of several varieties of weapons classified as “assault weapons” and ‘high-capacity’ magazines from the time of it taking effect. Weapons and magazines already in private hands were grandfathered in.
Under similar auspices as those being used today, the ban was ostensibly intended to stop mass shootings after the 1991 attack at Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen, TX (hear Suzanna Hupp’s account of the assault).
The net result of that ban was negligible. The 10-year window of the ban saw no fewer than 30 mass shooting events, including the 1999 Columbine attack. There was an uptick in the number of shooting events after the ban was allowed to sunset. However, “The Columbine Effect” probably accounts for that trajectory more than the end of the AWB.
Problem #8 – Focusing on Guns Takes the Focus Away from Better Solutions
Given that we have hard data proving that a ban on AK- and AR-platform rifles will have no true effect on mass killings, that approach should be abandoned in favor of more effective solutions to the problem. Below is a list of several ideas that can be easily implemented by the true first-responders to a mass shooting – school personnel – and the school districts that employ them. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it serves as a starting point for more aggressive protections that can help minimize the carnage.
1 – Harden schools and classrooms – I’m a classroom teacher myself. After the 2015 Umpqua Community College shooting, I decided to really invest myself in learning about these types of events and, most important, how to prevent or stop them. I learned a lot about hardening schools, but some ideas require little research at all.
One of the most obvious basic protections is to lock doors. Both exterior and interior doors should remain locked during the school day. Students and staff should be trained to refuse entry to unknown persons. During morning ingress, class changes, and end-of-day egress, trained staff should be on watch for any potential threats.
Additional hardening can include installing buzz-entry systems, anti-shatter window films, and single-point of entry systems for guests. Schools with bigger budgets can install camera systems to track shooters, firearm-detection software, automatic locking doors, smoke distraction devices, and ‘safe rooms’ within classrooms.
2 – Train Teachers – I highly recommend that teachers and administrators read two books. The first is Warning Signs by Dr. Peter Langman. The second is Stop the Killing, by Katherine Schweit. Both provide specific information on spotting behavior that hints that a student is contemplating or planning an active shooter event against his (or another school). Teachers, especially those teaching late elementary, middle, and secondary students need this information. I teach a lot of the information from these books (with proper attribution, of course) in my teacher training sessions. (You can order Warning Signs on Amazon through this Defcon link).
In the classroom, teachers can be trained in creating cover for students (usually using desks and tables) and providing improvised weapons to students to effectuate the teacher engaging a shooter should he make entry into the locked room. Personally, I have provided my students with a box of supplies on each table (I have round tables in my classroom as opposed to individual student desks). These items include pencils, pens, markers, erasers, rulers, sticky notes, and a few other items. They can throw that stuff, including the plastic box itself, at an intruder to create the necessary distraction I need to approach and tackle the threat.
Teachers should also be taught to engage the shooter. Hopefully it will be wasted training, since the teacher is working in a locked classroom. However, should the threat enter the room, the only option is to fight back. Teachers need to know how to do that.
I’ve provided this training to my school colleagues. I once watched a 5′ 2″ woman literally pick my 150 lb training dummy up from a standing position and slam it into the floor like a rag doll. It was a thing of beauty.
A lot of the training for teachers is free to them. I volunteer with the National Train-a-Teacher Day organization, which provides annual training to anyone who works with youth. You can check out the National Train-a-Teacher Day website for training events in your area.
Ryan Hoover is the mastermind behind Fit to Fight®. He has been a leader in the active shooter training arena for years. I spent a day in one of his affiliate seminars in 2018, and the training was worth every minute I spent there. He has affiliate sites all over the country. I highly recommend finding one and signing up.
3 – Restore Second Amendment Rights to Teachers – note that I’m not asserting that teachers should be armed. However, if a teacher has a concealed carry license and can pass a psychological evaluation, (s)he should be permitted to exercise their 2A rights on the job. There would be a few caveats to this practice of course, including (but not limited to) keeping the firearm concealed and on their person at all times; using it only in the defense of self or students; and NOT leaving a classroom behind to seek out, engage, and eliminate a threat. The firearm is for in-class defense or use during an out-of-class threat (i.e. during lunch or a school assembly).
One could make the case that the numbers of guns in the United States are directly responsible for the scourge of mass shootings occurring on a frequent basis. Nevertheless, the reality of banning weapons borders on impossible on both legal and practical levels. The best we can do is engage in solutions that can be universally applied to a vast number of schools at little to no cost for teachers and school districts.
Of course, I will always advocate for additional spending on school safety. Protecting the innocent in schools should be a budget priority for every government from the most rural to the feds in DC.
If you are a teacher or administrator reading this article, please take a look at What Defcon Security Consultants can do for you.