While the nation is processing yet another deadly mass shooting, this time involving children at an elementary school in Connecticut, the question will be whether this will be the wake-up call the United States needs to have a serious conversation about gun control and the gun culture fueled by the National Rifle Association.
Will we demand our political leaders take action to get at the root of the problem — America’s lax gun control laws? Or will we let the NRA and their followers continue to dominate the discussion by dismissing guns as the problem or even arguing that every private citizen should own a gun? Should the children have been packing?
Shopping malls. Houses of worship. Schools. Cinemas. A mass shooting every other week. Will we become numb to what should be shocking? Is this the price our society has to pay for the 2nd Amendment?
Last week it was an Oregon shopping mall shooting. This week it is a Connecticut elementary school in the line of fire. Where will the next mass shooting take place as a consequence of American gun violence? Organizations like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence are fighting the good fight against the NRA and for stricter gun control measures.
Background checks are required at gun stores. But did you know that in most states you can buy a gun online legally without a background check? That’s right folks, anyone can legally buy a gun on the Internet without a background check. The online loophole is one of the most outrageous and dangerous in our society. A convicted murderer can log on and load up.
Unlicensed private sellers, who conduct their business in the online market, account for 40 percent of U.S. gun sales. And a New York City investigation found that 62 percent of private dealers sold guns over the Internet to buyers who would not have passed a background check.
Here are the five deadliest weapons you can buy online — legally
Barrett M82 50-Caliber Sniper Rifle
In NBC News undercover investigation into legal online gun sales conducted a transaction for this 50-caliber sniper rifle, calling it “the most powerful gun legally sold in the U.S.: bullet range 5 miles. It can pierce armored vehicles, even bring down a helicopter.”
The NRA claims 50-caliber sniper rifles have not been used in crimes, but the Violence Policy Center, a nonprofit working to reduce gun violence, refutes that assertion with a long list of criminal activities in which the 50-caliber sniper rifle was the weapon of choice
M134 General Electric Minigun
The minigun is one of the most dangerous weapons ever designed, with the capacity to fire up to 166 bullets per second. Amazingly, it is currently legal in the U.S. to own this military-grade machine gun because the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986 stated that any fully automatic weapon constructed before that year was legal to own.
Shortly after the Aurora movie theater massacre, President Obama made a gun control speech in New Orleans, in which he said he believes that “a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers and not in the hands of crooks. They belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities.”
Glock 23 Semi-Automatic Pistol
The Glock semi-automatic handgun is the favorite weapon for mass shooters who want to maximize casualties. The gun was used in the Virginia Tech, Gabby Giffords, Sikh temple, and Aurora massacres.
The Chicago Tribune paraphrased Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, writing that “semi-automatic handguns are the weapon of choice for mass murderers because they are light and easy to conceal, and adaptable to using high-capacity magazines. This allows the shooter to fire the maximum number of bullets in a short period of time.”
Bushmaster M4 Type Carbine
This deadly assault rifle, used on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, is perfectly legal to purchase in the United States because the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004. There have been multiple attempts to renew the assault weapons ban, but there has so far been no progress from Congress or the White House.
Will President Obama make reinstating the assault weapons ban a priority in his second term, along with other gun control measures like closing online loopholes? Perhaps his emotional comments after the horrific gun-related slaughter of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut provides a preview of what’s to come.
“As a country we have been through this too many times. Whether it is an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora, or a street corner in Chicago — these neighborhoods are our neighborhoods, and these children are our children. We’re going to have to come together to meaningful action on this, regardless of the politics,” the president said at Friday’s White House press briefing.