Last month, an 18-year old brought his legally purchased AR-15 semi-automatic rifle into an elementary school and proceeded to murder 19 students and two teachers.
These weapons are not for hunting or for protecting people or property. They are meant to be used by soldiers in war zones — people who understand the killing power they have. They should not be found in the hallways and classrooms of American schools.
The AR-15 rifle was designed as a military weapon and is not intended for civilian use, according to the family of inventor Eugene Stoner. It was invented to provide American soldiers with an advantage over the Soviet-made AK-47 rifle, following the end of World War II.
Despite Stoner’s intentions for his invention, the AR-15 has been marketed heavily to consumers. American citizens own around 15 million AR-15s, making up one out of every five firearms that are sold. For comparison, the U.S. military only has 2.1 million servicemen and women, meaning that the 30% of adults who own guns possess more than the entire military.
The Las Vegas shooter used 22 AR style rifles when he murdered 60 people and injured 411 others in 2017. There are no laws in the U.S. that place any limit on how many of these killing machines one person can own.
A popular line from gun lobbyists is the phrase “the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” What if the bad guy with the gun has multiple of them and has barricaded himself in a hotel room? What if the good guy with a gun only has a small handgun while the bad guy has a gun that is capable of shooting dozens of high-powered bullets in under a minute?
The only argument for the ownership of automatic-style rifles is that they are fun to shoot. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it makes people think of them more like toys. When toys become dangerous we take them away.
Gun sales always go up after a mass shooting. The National Rifle Association knows this. Less than a week after the events in Uvalde, Texas, gun manufacturers and politicians met 300 miles away in Houston to celebrate this gun that has so much killing power.
It appears Congress may be close to passing legislation that will make it harder for some people who may hurt themselves or others to acquire guns and increase the amount of background checks for people 18 to 21 years old. This legislation should absolutely include a ban on the AR-15.
The Second Amendment does not give people the right to wield guns capable of shredding people in seconds. It was written during a time where the most powerful firearms could only fire a few times per minute — some AR-15 models are designed to be able to fire around nine bullets per second.
Children deserve to go to school without fear of being shot. The best way to ensure this is to make sure people do not have access to those kinds of weapons.
Carter DeJong is a secular humanist studying journalism at IU.