Just under two years ago, I wrote a piece about guns, specifically black rifles and illustrated my position with a story about a fellow named Carlos Hathcock. I have repeated the operative paragraphs in this writing, as they are still as applicable today, after the most recent slaughter, as they were when I originally penned them. With subtle edits, this was my point, then, and yet again today.
There is little need to weigh in on what constitutes an “assault rifle”. Progressives and our liberal friends love the descriptive “assault”. It is easy to say, catchy and takes little room on a printed page. To the less informed among us, they are typically black, polymer stocked and semi-automatic in operation, with a detachable magazine. They may, in actuality, be green, camo, brown or any color, are usually relatively compact and have far too many buttons, levers and attachments for gun controllers to wrap their minds around. They come in a wide variety of weights and calibers, although the venerable 5.56 MM easily predominates. A very popular squirrel rifle, the Ruger 10-22, by definition, qualifies. Folks who rail against these rifles remind me of people who come home and kick the dog because they experienced a flat on the way home. The dog did not cause the flat and these rifles are not fueling the homicidal, sociopathic rages we are seeing…..
During the Vietnam War, the Viet-Cong and North Vietnamese Army or NVA, placed a bounty on our most prolific sniper, Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock, also known as “White Feather” to our enemy. This bounty was the result of the Gunny killing 93 enemy soldiers, confirmed, with perhaps as many as 300 unconfirmed kills. The bounty was $30,000.00 US, a princely sum in this era. He was a terrific shooter, having been raised in Arkansas, where he honed his skills with a simple .22 rifle. After the war, the Gunny said he never really enjoyed the kills, instead viewed each one as saving a fellow Marine from a deadly fate. The Gunny relied on one of the oldest, continually produced sporting arms, mostly manufactured in America. It was the reliable Model 70 Winchester, bolt actioned rifle, chambered in the very popular .308 Winchester round, a favorite of sportsmen (and women) today. By today’s standard, it was not an assault rifle. Now to my point.
The Viet-Cong did not place a bounty on the rifle, rather on the shooter. They understood that to attempt to deny the Gunny his rifle would not be productive. They needed to remove the shooter from their world. Interesting. Folks who ran around armed with cheap, stamped, poor quality arms, the result of the genius of Mikhail Kalashnikov, recognized the futility of attacking the gun, instead focusing on the shooter. Combat theaters are awash in firearms and, my dear friends, so is America. There is a lesson here.
We have co-existed with guns for centuries in this Republic. There is a likelihood that we are destined to do so in the future. After you work your way through the entirely justifiable rage associated with the latest mass killing, please take a minute to consider what has just happened. The beautiful children in this Florida community were destroyed by a system that utterly failed them. The sociopath that destroyed these kids was well known to local and federal law enforcement. The NRA, under yet again a full frontal assault, publicly endorsed the inclusion of folks like the Florida shooter on the rolls of those prohibited from purchasing firearms. The Executive Director of the NRA, Mr. Wayne LaPierre, met with Sen. Schumer several years ago, who promised to pursue this tactic and then failed to even address it. To add insult to injury, the officer assigned to protect these children, failed to respond to his most basic, sworn obligation, to place himself between them and certain death. A systemic failure….leaving 17 defenseless people dead. This being said, we should understand that even with enhanced background checks, you are going to miss any number of high functioning sociopaths who run quietly under the radar.
Sociopaths thrive in a free and open society, such as America. What is embolding them is a subject for the behavioralists and social scientists. Meanwhile, we need to take definitive steps to protect our most precious charges, and that my friends is as simple (and expensive) as denying access to our schools to folks who are intent on killing them. Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Hathcock’s first task was to get close enough to his targets to squeeze off the shot they never heard. Something and/or someone needs to be between our children and those who seek to destroy them.