Letter to the Editor: Response to ‘Staring down the barrel of truth’

The Houstonian ran an article in its Feb. 21 issue responding to the recent events regarding the tragic school shooting in Florida. While the article was surprisingly balanced and bias free, there were still several factual errors that may be considered misleading, particularly given the general public’s lack of knowledge regarding firearms.

 The very first error came in the first sentence of the article when the author stated that the school shooter had used an Assault Rifle to carry out his heinous attack. This is untrue. An assault rifle has not been used in any mass shootings in recent years. An assault rifle is, by definition, a “select fire” weapon, meaning the shooter has the ability to “select” the rate of fire the weapon uses, via a mechanism on the rifle. A shooter can choose to shoot either semi-auto, full-auto, or “burst fire”. A standard AR-15 does not have such capabilities, further such weapons are not available on the civilian market.

 Second, the author stated that it is easier for a 19 year old to purchase an “assault rifle” than a handgun. The misleading terminology aside, it is generally true that a 19 year old can in fact purchase a rifle easier than a handgun. What exactly her point is about this is unclear and the bearing of this on school shootings is equally unclear. In terms of “casualties” in a shooting event the Virginia Tech massacre should prove that the weapons used, whether handguns or rifles, is relatively irrelevant when the victims are essentially unarmed sitting ducks.

The Parkland massacre has taught us many things. The first is that citizens are remiss if they think they can comfortably outsource their security to government. The failures of the system were made shockingly clear by this tragic event. A young man who was allowed to fall through the cracks by society rained down terror on that society. Nearly forty times police had been called to his house, everyone from the FBI to the local police knew who this young man was, he had been barred from even carrying a backpack to school, yet none of this was reported to the local FBI office nor the background check system. To add even greater insult to the community, the police deputy assigned to the school sat outside of the school as the shooting occurred. Resigning in disgrace from the force recently, it has come out that even though he was aware of the attack, he made no moves to intervene.

Lastly, the author of the original article made the assertion that the President has offered only “prayers and condolences”. This is patently false. President Trump, aside from holding a “Listening Session” with survivors of the attack, has offered numerous policy decisions, from banning “bump stocks” to raising the age limit to purchase certain types of weapons, to a much-needed overhaul of the background check system. Of course, none of these proposals are good enough to certain members of congress who would seek to remove all weapons from the hands of our citizens. Yet regardless of any policy proposals, as we have learned time and time again: The government cannot, will not, keep you safe. That, is up to you. 

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