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AR-15s and US: Accountability Beyond the First Bang and the Last Outrage

What if I told you that it is easier in most states in the United States to buy an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle than it is to buy an asthma inhaler? Would you believe me? Well, fasten your seat belt because we’re on a one-way ride down the Rabbit Hole.

First, let’s go over how, exactly, one buys an AR-15 rifle in many states. To begin with, you must be able to legally purchase and own the weapon. A “prohibited possessor” cannot buy or own firearms. Prohibited possessors are: Convicted felons, people with a dishonorable discharge from the military, people adjudicated insane or mentally incompetent by a court of law, people committed involuntarily to a psychiatric hospital, people that admit to being addicted to drugs or using illegal drugs, people with a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, and people under a restraining order. If you do not fall into any of those categories, there is nothing preventing you from purchasing an AR-15.

The next step is going to a gun shop. You select the one you want and decide to buy it. You fill out what’s called a BATFE form and the dealer calls the National Instant Check System (NICS) for a criminal background check. This takes from 5 to 10 minutes. Once approved, you pay for the weapon. That’s it. You can take the weapon home. Of course, private party sales and gun show sales do not do background checks in most cases. See, if you buy a car private party, you still must register the vehicle in your name with the state DMV. No such thing exists for private party gun sales in the United States because we do not have gun registration in most states.

Therefore, the entire process to purchase an AR-15 can actually take less time than having a pizza delivered to your house. Gun rights advocates can claim this is not so, but they really ought to ask how it is I know it. How? I’ve witnessed it. Good journalists go undercover and see things firsthand as eyewitnesses. The process to purchase an AR-15 is actually easier than buying lots of things such as a new car, prescription medication, health insurance, and many other things. But let’s talk about the asthma inhaler.

Let’s say you haven’t got health insurance. You can’t just go buy an asthma inhaler if you have asthma. This is a prescription drug, as the government calls it. Therefore, you can only buy it with a government-mandated permission slip called a “prescription”. In the past, a prescription was just instructions from a doctor to the pharmacist on the particular medication to be compounded or provided. It wasn’t a legal document mandated by the government and enforced by the FDA and DEA. But today, you must have this “license to buy and possess medication” to acquire it and legally have it. Again, no such license exists to buy and own an AR-15 rifle.

But you haven’t got insurance, so how do you obtain this prescription? You must got to the ER in most cases. There you will sit 2 to 10 hours waiting to be seen. Hopefully, the doctor won’t demand proof you have asthma and if you don’t have proof, be reluctant to write the prescription. You must have a written “diagnosis” which is the doctor saying you have this illness and should be given the legal right to have the medicine. This is especially the case with anti-anxiety medications such as Xanax and mirtazapine, which many doctors absolutely will not write a prescription for unless they “know” you as a patient even if you have the diagnosis in hand.

Some people go to McDoctors, or, urgent care clinics. If they’re lucky, they can get a prescription there. But, again, the whole needing to be a known client thing enters the equation. At any rate, obtaining the prescription takes anywhere from 2 to 10 hours in most cases if you do not have insurance. Even if you have insurance, to get a prescription requires a doctors visit anyway. Once again, here’s what amounts to a license absolutely necessary to buy the medication and no such license exists to purchase an AR-15 rifle.

What else can we expect from a culture of violence other than a culture of violence?

Once you get a prescription, now you can buy the asthma inhaler at a drug store, which will take 15 minutes to 2 hours for them to fill the prescription. Imagine if there was a NICS system you could register in as a person with an illness and all the drug store had to do was call this system to get the prescription authorization. No doctors visit necessary. You’re on record as having asthma in the database, and it just takes one simple phone call to authorize the sale of the inhaler. This brings me to a point I’d like to make.

The federal government says it needs to control the sale of prescription medication and regulate it for safety reasons. Now hold on! How, then, is it that no such safety concerns exist in the sales of AR-15 rifles? See, you have to demonstrate a need to have the prescription medication. You must prove that need with a diagnosis from a doctor who writes the prescription. Therefore, if this is done for safety, why does the AR-15 escape this concern at this point? Why is there not a system for “AR-15 prescriptions” by which you must demonstrate a need for this weapon and obtain a written permission from the sheriff to purchase it?

People say, “The Second Amendment is a right! I have a right to own AR-15s!” Well, be that as it may, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution does not say anywhere that the government has the right to restrict medication or regulate it, yet they do. It simply beggars belief that the government moves heaven and earth to regulate asthma inhalers but the AR-15 has no such hoops to jump through. If safety is the reason, I’d say the government has made a pretty poor case proving it. The government regulates many things the Constitution expressly doesn’t say they can. But when the government sits up there citing “safety” as the reason you can’t just go buy an asthma inhaler while AR-15s are used in mass murder after mass murder, the government is nothing but a supreme hypocrite.

Let me say this. No one can pick up an asthma inhaler and kill 50 people with it. To say it should be harder to get that asthma inhaler than a deadly weapon is a farce. Of a truth, the asthma inhaler should be sold over the counter and the AR-15 should require the written permission slip to even buy it. I find it astonishing that the same people who say health care is not a right also claim that owning a weapon capable of filling twenty ambulances and an ER trauma center in less than 5 minutes is a right. It’s almost as if saving lives is not a right but the ability to take lives is a right. Is this not morally wrong?  When did we arrive at the point that we deny medication to people with illnesses from safety concerns but dole out military-grade weapons with one short phone call, a piece of paper, and a credit card? Click To Tweet

I can’t say it enough. Getting an asthma inhaler is a tremendous headache for the uninsured and even those with health insurance. And thanks to increasing pollution and toxins, asthma is on the increase. Getting asthma medicine should be easier, not harder. But here’s the AR-15 which is killing scores of people every couple of months and it remains just as legal and easy to get as ever. If you said to the government to move asthma inhalers and certain other prescription drugs to over the counter status, they’d scream bloody murder about how “irresponsible” that would be. And they would be the same politicians screaming bloody murder about “our gun rights” if you said we should ban or at least regulate the AR-15. Excuse me, how about the rights of people that’d just like to stay alive, thank you very much?

This country is backwards in the way it accuses others of being. A country that tightly regulates medication people with illnesses need but refuses to regulate a weapon involved in nearly every mass shooting is backwards. But backwards could be forgiven, if it was done unknowingly. Knowingly doing wrong when doing right is obvious to all enters the realm of evil. The United States government knows what the right thing is because they’re told what the right thing is every day, 24 hours a day. And yet they consistently choose the wrong thing, over and over again. This is evil. Evil is the conscious choice to do wrong when doing right is always the most available option.

We cannot excuse the culpability of the government here. Blame the NRA all you want, and they should be blamed, but it is the government who chooses to listen to them. It is the government who has the authority to regulate this weapon and refuses to do so. But when the government refuses to save human lives because of its inaction, it is as guilty as if they pulled those triggers themselves. There is a reason why General Eisenhower ordered German civilians to go see the masses of dead in concentration camps after World War Two ended. The reason was because they were all saying they didn’t know this was going on. That they were innocent. Eisenhower’s point is that there are none innocent who sat by and let that happen and acted like, hey, it’s all good.

The government is not innocent here. It could be solved tomorrow if DOJ and BATFE were sent an email directing them to move the AR-15 to Class 3 (restricted weapon) status. Within a week, sales of this weapon would come to an end except to people who passed a more stringent federal background check and obtained permission (a prescription, if you will) from the head of local law enforcement to buy this weapon. It could be done today. So, I ask you, who’s innocent? #AR15andUS

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Jack Perry
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Jack Perry

Jack Perry is a writer who lives with his wife in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona. When talking about the ambitions and goals of the United States government, Jack warns: "Always Assume It's A Scam." Jack writes, bakes bread, and is a Path pilgrim and wayfarer of this world.
Jack Perry
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