Monday, 13 June 2016
two hands to hold
As a gun-free Brit, I notice that the US gun lobby have been quick to aggressively comment all over any sites suggesting U.S. gun laws are inadequate in the wake of the latest atrocity.
A few months ago someone made a map showing gun stores and Starbucks, illustrating there's about five times as many gun stores as Starbucks in the USA. This statistic has already been heavily contested, but there's still a gun store within an hour drive for most people, including many Walmarts and similar outlets which carry firearms.
One of the challenges to the frappuccino statistics was that some of the so-called gun-stores might be Federal Firearms Licensed (FFL) individuals operating from their kitchen tables and assisting cross state line arms sales. That's all right then.
I decided to look at Washington D.C., whose 68 square miles appears to only have one licensed gun-store.
When I extended the search to the rest of the neighbourhood (Maryland, Virginia etc.), I was soon up around 100 stores. I picked one at random, and took a look at some of the stock.
As well as BB guns and other items aimed at a younger market, there were also bigger guns available. In America it isn't legal to own a machine gun without a special licence, but an assault rifle is like a one-shot-at-a time variant. They seem to be pretty commonplace.
As I glanced through the stock list of this Virginia-based store, I noticed this one: A Sig Sauer MPX, which looks like something out of an old Bruce Willis movie.
I noticed that the Sig is available as both a semi-automatic, which is generally legal, and as a Class 3 fully automatic weapon, where holding the trigger will fire bullets continuously. Now this is, as the blurb describes, a full weapons system, so by the time all the bibs and bobs have been added its probably a $2000+ purchase.
Something less expensive maybe? That's when I noticed this smaller advertisement, for a youth rifle.
A 10/22 rifle with a 25 round magazine clip and a bucket containing 1400 rounds of ammo for $395! And it's a stainless steel collapsible rifle for ease of transport. "Teach your son to shoot special".
Somewhere in between? Walmart was the biggest seller of firearms in the US but it withdrew most of its high powered rifles late in 2015.
Amongst the high powered items, the AR-15 is still readily available and popular because of its adaptability. Here's a less expensive Colt Expanse M4 ($699) and a mainstream Colt AR15 ($999), from a further nearby store in Virginia.
I didn't check all the legal points, but I did notice in Florida these two guns don't require any form of licence (an $8 background check is all that is needed) and it is actually illegal in Florida to keep a list of firearm owners. The simple version is that if it requires two hands to hold then its available across the counter.
That lower gun is the one dubbed "America's gun" and has frequently featured in the 1001 US mass shootings since Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 right through to the weekend's Orlando nightclub tragedy.
At 164 days into 2016, excluding gang-related, the US has had 133 mass shootings, including 15 in Florida.