I am now the proud owner of an AR-15 and two 30-round 5.56 magazines.
Scared? Angry? Confused? You have no reason to be. The AR-15 is among the most popular firearms on the market these days, thanks to a couple of wing-nuts who managed to slip through some pretty big cracks. AND I'd also like to give a fuck-you-very-much to the Tea-Partiers who practically own Sierra Vista AZ for making it damn near impossible to find ammunition these days: You're not the only one with an expensive and misunderstood hobby, you bastards.
So then why did we buy ourselves the "assault rifle" that everyone loves to hate? Because we do indeed 'need' one, even if only to complete our collection of at least one of each kind of legally available firearm in the United States. I guess this officially make John and I Gun-Nuts now, at least in the eyes of a lot of our friends.
My first choice was actually the AK-47, which is also legal in the US, but phenomenally expensive.
One of the few things I can still have a somewhat pleasant conversation with my Republican pals about is the subject of guns. Unlike some of my fellow Liberals, the mere sight of a gun on my computer monitor doesn't make me shit my pants in fear. I despise violence, the idea of intentionally harming another human being actually makes me sick to my stomach, but that doesn't mean that I won't in certain circumstances: I have had the wonderful experience of pulling out my loaded Mossberg 500 at 0200 because I thought someone was trying to get into my home, I was extremely fortunate that as soon as s/he heard me rack it ("ch-CHK!") s/he ran away like a bitch out the driveway and down the road.
We called the cops soon after, we were told they'd sent a squad-car: They never showed up. Go Sierra Vista PD!
I'm not so afraid of someone getting into my home, if anything I'm more afraid of what I might have to do in case that happens. Even as a trained Soldier and Veteran, the idea of killing anything or anyone, even if it is out of necessity, disgusts me. the gun REALLY IS the tool of my 'trade' even if I hate the idea of using it for that purpose. So why do I HAVE guns in my home if I hate killing? Just because I'm a "Liberal" doesn't mean I'm a fucking idiot.
The first known use of "guns" came from Mongol era China, they were basically one-round mini-cannons on sticks and their accuracy was absolute shit, but when you DID get hit with a round from one of these things... "didn't know what hit him" was an understatement, because they were known to hit with enough force to pulp internal organs. They helped the Chinese win back their country from the Mongols ruling over them.
That's probably the only conceivable upside to war: Innovation and invention. You'd be hard-pressed to walk around your house and not find a single item that WASN'T designed or perfected with warfare in mind, right down to canned goods and even computers themselves: All of which were made to keep Soldiers alive long enough to kill more of the enemy in greater numbers, to one effect or another.
So how do we stop "the Bad Guys" while letting law abiding citizens keep the arms they have every right to own and use responsibly?
People have probably touched on this in the past, but I can't put the blame on any one thing for the epidemic of violence America seems to have. I certainly can't blame the guns themselves, that makes no sense because it implies that an inanimate object is somehow capable of acting out it's purpose autonomously: No gun will start shooting just by looking at it, SOMEONE has to pick it up and squeeze the trigger.
Even if you only could ever buy 10-round magazines in the US, a motivated psychopath need only utilize a well placed strip of duct-tape to turn two 10-round mags into a double-sided 20-round magazine: Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold figured it out and did exactly that to more effectively slaughter their classmates, but somehow that entire disaster was all Eminem's fucking fault.
A truly determined murderer will find whatever way s/he can to kill whoever s/he wants regardless of what means s/he has at his/her disposal, even if they don't have access to guns: Iraqi civilians were still allowed to carry their own firearms such as pistols, rifles and even AK-47s, yet they still preferred making bombs because they killed the most people very quickly, and explosives were cheaper than ammunition in that part of the world.
So is this a problem for the mental health system to fix? In my opinion, I think largely that it is. And there are people who are honestly trying: Dr Lynne Fenton was the psychiatrist who was overseeing James Holmes' care before his rampage in Aurora, she notified local authorities about his dangerous behavior but instead of handling it like they could have, they sat on their asses instead. The shrink did her job, so did the University Police, so who dropped THAT ball?
And there are ALREADY laws on the books that make background checks mandatory to buy guns from vendors, but who is responsible for enforcing those laws? And what can lawfully be down about private sales? I can't help but wonder what goes into an actual background check and who has access to that information, seriously: If I ever want to sell one of my guns in the future, I don't want to be held responsible for unknowingly selling it to another James Holmes. I'd like to do everything I reasonably can to prevent that from happening.
Mass violence is not a distinctly American nor a recent problem, take a trip to the Middle-East or Africa if you don't believe me.
Our Constitution never promised us a SAFE society, just a FREE one. I'm sorry, but that's just what it is. I have every right to own and use my AR-15 within the realm of the law, and I had no objection whatsoever to passing a background check in order to get it. Why would I ever use it? Where I'm at right now, probably won't have to: Not very practical for home-defense in an apartment complex, but John and I plan to buy our own home in the near future and we'd greatly prefer to live in a semi-rural area. Crime still happens in the boonies, that and we really REALLY want a plot of land big enough that we can have target-practice on our own property.
I do think that most people genuinely are good at heart and don't want to hurt each other, but I've also been around the block (and even the sand-box) enough times to know that dangerous people do exist.
Try as you may, you can't legislate away evil or crazy: Self defense IS a human right.