UPDATED – Seventy-eight years after thousands of Americans landed on the beaches at Normandy, or parachuted in darkness behind enemy lines to defend their country and its constitution, the Texas Tribune is reporting how some “self-declared gun enthusiasts” in Texas are “supporting congressional action to increase gun restrictions in response to the mass shooting in Uvalde.”
Actor and Uvalde native Matthew McConaughey inserted himself into the gun debate with an Op-Ed in the Austin American-Statesman, writing, “I believe that responsible, law-abiding Americans have a Second Amendment right, enshrined by our founders, to bear arms. I also believe we have a cultural obligation to take steps toward slowing down the senseless killing of our children.
“The debate about gun control has delivered nothing but status quo,” he continued. “It’s time we talk about gun responsibility.”
McConaughey’s 823-word short essay pushes for background checks on all gun purchases, adoption of a national “red flag” law and raising the minimum age to buy a modern semi-auto rifle—mischaracterized as an “assault rifle”—to 21 years.
The irony is stark, as thousands of the soldiers who stormed ashore at Omaha and Utah beaches, or dropped out of the sky June 6, 1944 had not yet reached their 21st birthdays, but were fully armed with the “assault rifles” of the day. Nobody thought they weren’t old enough, and to his credit, McConaughey added this caveat to his age restriction suggestion: “Unless you are in the military, you should be 21 years old to purchase an assault rifle.”
The actor also called for a “national waiting period” for the purchase of “assault rifles.”
But that could face some tough opposition from gun rights organizations. There are already challenges to the prohibition in California and Washington, with a federal court striking down the restriction in California.
In a somewhat-related case, the Second Amendment Foundation and Firearms Policy Coalition sued Friday in federal court in Washington, challenging that state’s ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, in either rifles or pistols. Most so-called “assault rifles” come standard with magazines exceeding a 10-round maximum.
Without naming them, the actor writes, “Studies show that mandatory waiting periods reduced homicides by 17 percent.” He goes on to note the majority of gun-related deaths in the U.S. are suicides.
While the gun debate has picked up new steam following Buffalo and Uvalde, the FBI reports continuing strong use of the National Instant Check System in May, with 2,340,383 NICS checks initiated during the month. Not all of them resulted in a gun purchase, but according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, their “adjusted” figure relating to actual firearms transactions comes to 1,174,791. That was down 11.3 percent from the adjusted figure of 1,324,419 in May 2021, NSSF said.
In a statement, Mark Oliva, NSSF managing director of public affairs observed, “May marks 34 months that background checks for the sale of a firearm exceeded 1 million. Americans continue to buy firearms for personal safety. These gun owners refuse to are law-abiding Americans who use their firearms for lawful purposes daily. They reject the attempts by special interest groups to paint them with the same broad brush those who criminally misuse firearms.
“The tragic events in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas, are sobering remainders that there are those in our society who have no respect for the law or innocent lives,” Oliva added. “Every law-abiding adult American has the right to defend themselves and their loved ones against that evil.”
While this is unfolding, two widely-known firearms authorities and retired law enforcement professionals have put together a podcast with tips on how to survive a mass shooting. Roy Huntington and Brent Wheat present a casual conversation on the subject, and one strong point is to fight back.
Meanwhile, in Chicago, the Chicago Tribune is reporting at least six homicides and 27 other people wounded in shootings over the weekend. Seldom does the ongoing slaughter in Chicago make national news.