The United States is seeing yet another influx of mass shootings, with dozens of deaths in March alone. Shootings occurred everywhere from California to Colorado to Georgia and beyond.
Exacerbating the gun murders in the United States is the availability of assault weapons—semiautomatic firearms with detachable magazines designed to kill as many people as possible.
For years, advocates of common sense gun law reform have advocated for the return to an assault weapons ban, saying that weapons of war shouldn't be permitted on America's streets.
Right on schedule, Republicans have painted the calls for these bans as a move to infringe on the Second Amendment right to bear arms, insisting that these mass shootings with stratospheric body counts are the price of so-called freedom.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who's received nearly $60 thousand in campaign donations from the National Rifle Association, recently tweeted a thread in support of keeping assault weapons available in the United States.
The thread began with a video of him firing one.
In 1994, there was an Assault Weapons Ban – the evidence indicates that there was really no change at all in crime,… https://t.co/X4Nm3CbroZ— Lindsey Graham (@Lindsey Graham)1617310122.0
Now, why would anybody need to own an AR-15?
If there is a breakdown of law and order, and that can happen -- we've seen it happen in our major cities.
Remember Hugo, where people were isolated for days? Remember Katrina?
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) April 1, 2021
It's not impossible to find yourself in the modern world without any police protection, because that's just the way the times are in which we live in.
We're talking about defunding the police!
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) April 1, 2021
Graham insisted that AR-15s are necessary in situations like natural disasters, and he misleadingly claimed that the assault weapons ban instituted in 1994, which was riddled with exemptions and loopholes, resulted in "no change in crime."
Mass shooting deaths after the weapons ban marginally dropped, but these deaths stratospherically rose after the ban expired in 2004.
According to the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, pre-ban mass shootings resulted in a death toll of 68 from 1982 to 1993. When the ban was in effect from 1994 to 2004, the death toll dropped to 53. But in the years 2005 to 2017, after the ban was lifted, the mass shooting death toll was 309—nearly six times higher than when assault weapons were banned.
But beyond raw data, these deaths affect the lives of untold numbers of people who've lost a loved one from gun violence.
Fred Guttenberg was the father of Jaime Guttenberg, a 14 year old student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In 2018, a shooter wielding an AR-15 entered the school and murdered 17 people, with Jaime Guttenberg among them.
Since then, Fred Guttenberg has devoted his life to activism in support of common sense gun law reform.
He continued that work with a swift rebuke responding to Graham's video.
Today, @LindseyGrahamSC showed off with the weapon used to kill my daughter and the weapon of choice for mass murde… https://t.co/ewkm1AUDGz— Fred Guttenberg (@Fred Guttenberg)1617318819.0
Guttenberg said Graham was promoting violence and showing potential mass shooters which weapons would be most effective in murdering others.
Guttenberg was met with widespread agreement for his response.
You disgust me, @LindseyGrahamSC. You should be in prison for election interference. I’m sure you’ve never even won… https://t.co/RUGDjnZUxM— Kaye (@Kaye)1617348075.0
This certainly puts it in perspective. 👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇👇 https://t.co/B97ly1pq28— BlissInTexas (@BlissInTexas)1617381138.0
Tweet of the day. Graham makes me sick. https://t.co/Q5XRumjHt5— PandorasDaydream (@PandorasDaydream)1617336081.0
How any person who lost a loved one to this gun isn't rioting in the streets every time a smug conservative shows o… https://t.co/aU3svQgv25— Semisan (@Semisan)1617366134.0
And Guttenberg was far from the only one to decry Graham's promotion of assault weapons.
Your hobby is the weapon of choice for mass casualty. This is pathetic and grotesque to do after so many have died… https://t.co/pZ2Wucd1G2— VoteVets (@VoteVets)1617315174.0
FACT CHECK: Entirely false. When the federal assault weapon ban was in effect (1994-2004), America saw a: — 37% de… https://t.co/vuqDgSlPH8— Kris Brown | President, bradyunited.org (@Kris Brown | President, bradyunited.org)1617322415.0
See that, kids? Guns absolutely do NOT make you look tough. https://t.co/xMyPePvtzj— Erin (AKA GRASS) Ryan (@Erin (AKA GRASS) Ryan)1617315382.0
This is verifiably false and Sen. Graham knows it. He has stood in the way of common sense reform for years now.… https://t.co/aXge8LrCR8— Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (@Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta)1617367847.0
That’s one of the NRA’s favorite lies. https://t.co/jGRhMITKoT https://t.co/pa49lhZXGt— southpaw (@southpaw)1617315112.0
Graham's thread comes less than two weeks after he gave a bizarre Fox News interview fantasizing about protecting his home from "the gang" with an assault weapon.