Who’s carrying? Lots of people.
Concerns about regulation, skepticism about the science and misperceptions about costs are slowing the transition to nontoxic alternatives.
Andrea Goodnight knows firsthand what lead poisoning looks like. A veterinarian at the Oakland Zoo, Goodnight treats endangered California condors when testing shows dangerous levels of the toxic metal in their blood.
If blood lead levels get too high, condors, eagles and other raptors “regurgitate everything and can’t hold anything down, so basically they’re starving to death,” Goodnight says. “A very clinically ill bird is very distressing. They’re weak, they fall over, they just can’t feed themselves at all and eventually they die. To me, it’s an absolutely horrible way to die.”
Last weekend, America regrettably witnessed one of the deadliest mass shootings in the country’s history at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, in which 49 people were murdered and over 50 injured. The atrocity was carried out by a fanatic who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, using a civilian semi-automatic rifle, the Sig Sauer MCX. (Early reports that it was an AR-15 were mistaken.)
In the wake of this attack, many people have laid the blame on America’s relatively lax gun laws, arguing that so-called “assault weapons” (more appropriately known as semi-automatic rifles) and high-capacity magazines should be banned from civilian use.
They note that many of the deadliest shootings in American history have involved rifles like the AR-15, and they propose that such rifles should be banned to prevent heinous crimes like the Orlando massacre from occurring in the future.
The New York Daily News ran an article titled “Firing an AR-15 is horrifying, menacing and very very loud”. Before beginning a piece on a topic like this, it’s probably worth explaining my personal relationship with firearms. I don’t own one. I haven’t owned one in about a decade. Prior to that, I carried almost every day of my adult life. My career demanded it. So, I’m not a “gun nut”, but I understand firearms better than most and have put more rounds down range than most “gun nuts”.
Gersh Kuntzman (yes, that’s really the name on the byline) penned a piece that described almost combat like conditions with hot brass flying across his face and even said he suffered a “form of PTSD” from firing the killing machine on a range. He’s described the AR-15 as “high powered”. He claims the recoil bruised his shoulder. The audible report from the rifle was apparently the equivalent of a bomb blast. He said it felt like firing a bazooka and the smell of “sulfur and destruction” made him sick. All of this surprised me.
It surprised me because… well, it’s a lie. The physical descriptions of his experience are completely fabricated, or the gun store owner was having a bit of fun with him. If the recoil from an AR-15 bruised his shoulder, the most likely culprit is that he’s anemic. It’s that, or he didn’t seat the butt of the rifle in his shoulder. If brass was flying in front of his face, he was either shooting from the wrong shoulder or it was perhaps bouncing off a nearby wall. The photos show neither of these are the case. Either way, he’s lying or the person showing him how to shoot was intentionally trying to make it tough on him. What’s more disturbing is that a piece of brass coming near him left him “disoriented”.