Governmental bodies at all levels are wrestling with some common issues right now, among them:
- What sort of process should be in place to vet any particular person that wants to buy a hyper-lethal weapon?
- How old should such a person be before they are allowed to have that kind of power?
- Wait a second, who the hell needs an AR-15 in the first place, regardless of age?
So let’s zero in on number 3 for a minute, remembering that in the time it takes you to read what the Machine has to say here, dozens of people can be taken down by a single AR-15.
If you haven’t seen it, there is a tremendous article here about why people want AR-15s and why nobody really needs one. Knowing the people I know who own or would want to own an AR-15, I am fairly convinced that most of those people don’t need to own an AR-15, but rather want to own an AR-15, for the same reason I want to buy various electronic toys: because they geek out on it. Obviously, if that were the only reason in public discourse for owning an AR-15, we’d be having a different conversation right now. But of course, there are people out there who also claim the need. And that need quite often boils down to hunting out of self defense, and most specifically to feral hogs.
Here’s the narrative: hogs multiply like rabbits, and the wild variety with the fangs can do serious damage to a human being in one-on-one combat. There are folks living in various places where these hogs represent a constant threat, to the point where there could be a whole bunch of them threatening the very lives of one’s children, and henceforth the need for a killing machine that can dispatch this porcine threat in short order.
In the 1980’s, the late comedian Sam Kinison infamously asked why hungry people don’t move to where the food is. It was as momentarily hilarious a statement as it was impractical. So I won’t start here by asking why people are choosing to live in proximity to evil bacon. But let’s go ahead and take the “need” at face value. Why is an AR-15 the only answer? In my naive brain, it’s because one doesn’t have to put the energy into learning how to effectively utilize a different kind of gun. An AR-15 is apparently only slightly more challenging than a video game in that regard. But it’s also been noted by far more gun-savvy people than me that other rifles are in fact more effective in this situation. Either way, one must wonder how things got to this point.
Below is a graph of the ability of feral hogs and human beings to inflict damage upon one another as a function of time. I can’t tell you what the units are, but I can tell you the graph is not wrong. As you can see, there is probably a point somewhere before the AR-15 where we should have felt pretty comfortable about being able to win this fight. The flip side of that is, why stop with an AR-15? Why not send these porkers packing with a rocket-propelled grenade? A dirty bomb? Phasers set to kill?
The other question is, how many 18-year-olds find themselves in a situation where it’s spray an oncoming hoard of hogs with bullets or lose your entire family? Was that the motivating factor for any mass shooter in recent memory to have obtained their weapon in the first place? The Machine puts the probability pretty low on that.
We’ve come full circle. If the AR-15 is the only way to escape terminal boar-dom, then it’s important enough to require some training and maturity, which means there need to be checks in place to ensure that both 1) the person with the gun knows how and when to use it, and 2) the person with the gun needed it in the first place.