It's always bad to hear about a police officer being gunned down in the line of duty, but when it happens in Pittsburgh it hits a little close to home.
Yesterday, a gunman in Pittsburgh decided that he'd had enough of the gub'ment, particularly President Obama, trying to take his rights away. Letting paranoia and fear get the best of him, he decided to take matters into his own hands by killing 3 Pittsburgh officers, 2 of which were fatally wounded in the head. After receiving a call about a domestic dispute, officers showed up at the residence where said gunman, Richard Poplawski, 23, lived. He was "lying in wait" for the officers, and he took their lives immediately when they arrived. Among the guns Poplawski owned, a .357 Magnum and an AK-47.
He's screwed. In Pennsylvania, killing a police officer is an offense punishable by death.
Of course, this incident is going to ignite a furious debate over the 2nd Amendment. Personally, I'm all for owning a gun for protection from braindead asshats like Poplawski, as well as hunting. But, this event is forcing me to think about the 2nd Amendment, and just to what extent Americans should be allowed to go to buy firearms.
Of the 203 countries in the world, the United States ranks consistently about 4th in the world in gun-related crime. The countries that have the highest rates of gun-related crimes are South Africa, Colombia, and Thailand. While the numbers of gun-related crimes in South Africa dwarf those of the US, we are still one of the most gun-crazed countries on the planet.
Given the severity of last weekends gun-related crimes in Pittsburgh and Binghamton, I am forced to ask a question: Although I believe in owning a gun for the aforementioned reasons, what in the hell does anyone need an automatic or semi-automatic weapon for? More importantly, where does it end? I respect the opinions (though sometimes begrudgingly) of people like Ted Nugent, but I would ask someone like Ted, does the Constitution give you the right to own any gun you want? If so, how much firepower is enough?
When I was in the Air Force, I was a weapons technician for the F-15C Eagle. Among the weapons this sweet baby has is the M61A1 Vulcan cannon. It has been in use in nearly every fighter aircraft since 1959, and is capable of firing 6,000 20mm rounds per minute. I've had to take this thing apart, clean it, and put it back together again for 4 years. It's a scary thing to be next to when fully assembled. Even more powerful, is the GAU-8, the main weapon of the A-10 Warthog. The rounds that this thing can fire are about the size of a beer bottle with a long neck - 30 mm.
So, the question I have for people like Ted Nugent is, should you be allowed to own guns like these? After all, if civilians can gain legal access to a military weapon like the M-16, shouldn't that allow me to own another military weapon? If the Constitution says that I should be able to have a gun if I want, should I be allowed to have an M61? What about a GAU-8, or even a .50 cal? Hell, while we're at it, I should be allowed to own an entire squadron of F-22s if I so see fit and could afford to do so.
The point that I am trying to make is that, while I believe in the Constitution of the United States of America, I also believe in common sense. For Ted Nugent and those like him, that common sense is often checked at the door. I also believe that the Founders did not have the foresight to see the trouble to come, and at the hands of those like Richard Poplawski, the 2nd Amendment becomes a frightening specter. For people like Poplawski, fear, ignorance, and prejudice truly go hand in hand, often with brutal consequences.
The irony of this whole event is that Poplawski has only damaged the 2nd Amendment that he supposedly loves. It is because of people like him that the 2nd Amendment will meet its demise.