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Bil Lepp: Refining discourse on mass murders

“Hammers and blunt objects are used to kill more people in the U.S. every year than long guns.”

This is just one argument posed by people who don’t want new legislation regulating the sales of assault rifles or high capacity clips.

It looks as if the FBI did release a report stating that hammer and blunt object murders exceeded rifle murders in 2017.

“The media deliberately hides stories about mass killings involving weapons other than semi-automatic rifles,” is another argument. With this in mind, I dug deep to find evidence of a mass killing involving a hammer. It turns out there is this guy called Thor. He routinely uses a hammer as a weapon. The left-wing media hid this evidence so well that I had to pay $8, and I thought it was a movie.

Hammers are dangerous, but unless you are a Norse god you probably aren’t going to kill a dozen people in a few seconds with a hammer. Thus, the number of people killed by hammers, fists and clubs are not relevant to the debate.

Banning assault rifles and high capacity clips isn’t about stopping all murder. No legislation of any kind could possibly do that. It’s about impeding a person’s ability to quickly murder a whole bunch of people.

“Knives are dangerous.” People who don’t want new legislation have their arguments ready. If they fail to sway you with the “hammers and blunt object” ruse, they will deploy the inscrutable “knives kill people” defense.

Once again, it is true. You can kill a person with a knife. People opposed to a ban will tell you that a guy in Japan killed 19 people with a knife, and injured many others. A knife-wielding villain can be dangerous, but what the pro-assault rifle crew neglect to mention is that these particular murders took place in a home for the disabled, between 2:10 and 2:50 in the morning. The killer crept from room to room, killing disabled victims while they slept. It took 40 minutes. Not 40 seconds.

We don’t need to restrict assault rifles simply because they are lethal. Lots of things are lethal. Assault rifles and high capacity clips need to be more heavily regulated because they are easy to use for quick, mass killings.

The man in the recent standoff in Philadelphia did not hold out for eight hours and shoot six cops with a knife and a hammer.

“Outlawing assault rifles won’t keep criminals from obtaining assault rifles,” is another gem. Duh. Criminals ignore laws. That’s what makes them criminals. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have laws. My son noted that outlawing abortions won’t stop women from having abortions. And yet conservative legislatures around the country will do most anything to restrict a woman’s access to abortion, while they do absolutely nothing to restrict mass murderers’ access to assault rifles and high capacity clips. Why is this? Why is an abortion a sin and a crime that must be prevented at all costs, but a mass shooting is a mental health issue with no solution? Could the NRA’s deep pockets possibly be influencing these legislator’s senses of morality?

“I have to have an assault rifle in case a herd of wild boars comes in my yard while my children are playing.” Aside from the fact that shooting indiscriminately at the hogs may injure your children, this is the one pro-assault rifle argument that makes some practical sense.

Mass murders are always tragic. People bent on murder will use whatever is available — be it a hammer, a knife, gasoline, poison or jet airliners. We cannot stop all mass killings by banning assault rifles and large capacity magazines. But what if by banning new sales of assault rifles and high capacity clips we stopped one mass killing? What if one person did not kill 10 or 20 or 30 kids in a school because that one person couldn’t get an assault rifle? Isn’t that a fair trade?

We won’t be able to ban new sales of assault rifles and high capacity clips because the NRA is stronger than the U.S. Congress. I’m talking to you, Sen. Joe Manchin, Sen. Shelley Moore-Capito and the three folks posing as representatives for the people of West Virginia in the U.S. House.

So bring on the arguments. Bring the litany of folks who call me a Fudd. Tell me that I am selfish. That I don’t know what an assault rifle is. That there’s no difference between a .22 LR peashooter and a .223 Remington AR-15 weapon of war. That everyone in Chicago shot everyone else in Chicago last weekend. That the government shouldn’t stop you from arming yourself. That the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms and that right shall not be infringed ...

But don’t neglect to mention that the Second Amendment doesn’t guarantee a willy-nilly, free-for-all-Yosemite-Sam style of gun ownership, but rather a well-regulated militia. The words “well-regulated” are right there in the amendment.

Bring your arguments, but please try a fresh tact. Don’t come at me with the trite and tired. Children, sisters, mothers, fathers, brothers, grandchildren, worshipers, police, shoppers and nightclub goers are being shot and killed while you dither and clutch to your stale defenses.

Bil Lepp, of South Charleston, is a professional storyteller and writer.

Funerals for Friday, September 20, 2019

Barton, Richard - 3 p.m., Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery, Dunbar.

Birthisel, Avis - 11 a.m., Casdorph & Curry Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Call, Denver - Noon, Allen Funeral Home, Hurricane.

Dearien, Tommie - Noon, Stevens & Grass Funeral Home, Malden.

Fletcher, Joanna - 1 p.m., Curry Funeral Home, Alum Creek.

Keeney, Steven - 2 p.m., Keith Full Gospel Church, Keith.

May, Rosa - 2 p.m., Bartlett - Nichols Funeral Home, St. Albans.

Morris, Linda - 1 p.m., Deal Funeral Home, Point Pleasant.

Parsons, Harry - 11 a.m., Ellyson Mortuary Inc., Glenville.

Pauley, Clarence - 10 a.m., Cunningham Memorial Park, St. Albans.

Pino, Patricia - 11 a.m., Bradley FreeWill Baptist Church.

Rogers, Marilyn - 11 a.m., Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, South Charleston.

Satterfield, Kenneth - 5 p.m., Satterfield residence, 1161 Daniels Run Road, Millstone.