Rifles for sale at the Poway Weapons & Gear Range. Image from company video
“Assault rifles” for sale at the Poway Weapons & Gear Range. Image from company video

By Natasha Sweatte

Out of respect for the 49 victims and their families, I have not been outspoken about the Orlando tragedy as it relates to gun rights. I thought it was despicable how just hours after the attack, those against firearms lashed out and made it about politics instead of the innocent people who were taken from this earth too soon.

I’m not a “gun nut.”  I didn’t grow up around them, or even use a firearm until my 20s, but even I can see the complete bias in this “assault weapons” debate.

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I always hear the anti-gun rhetoric after a mass shooting. Those who adamantly oppose firearms are always up in arms criticizing firearms dealers for increased gun sales. But stop and ask yourself why gun sales sometimes go up after a mass shooting? It’s not because of ads people see on television; it’s because reality sinks in of how vulnerable they are unarmed.

While absolutely devastating, according to the FBI “mass shootings” — defined as those in which at least four people were murdered with a firearm — account for less than one-percent of gun-related homicide deaths. One percent. Should we base our entire statute on the few extreme cases, where the villain was clearly unstable?

Natasha Sweatte
Natasha Sweatte

Before wading into the “assault weapons ban” that has and will always come up after any shooting that involves a rifle of any type, let’s first get everyone on the same page. The term “assault rifle” is of a by itself, a lie to every American. A true military assault rifle is one that will fire continuously as long as the trigger is pulled. Such an “automatic weapon” is a machine gun. True military assault weapons capable of automatic fire been banned from sale to the general public since 1968. Therefore, all of the political pundits trying to ban “assault weapons” are simply playing on everyone’s fears and ignorance.

As far as the “assault weapons ban” is concerned, the civilian version of these wrongfully labeled firearms were only used in two percent of firearm-related crimes before the 10-year ban that began in 1994. After the ban ended, a federal study concluded, “we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”

The push for a return of this ban, in addition to related laws, is purely political. Those who despise firearms and lack the proper training don’t realize some politicians are pushing gun control that won’t “keep them safe” as they’re told, but actually put them in greater danger.

Why is it we have to blame firearms after a tragedy, but if someone is stabbed, run over by a car, or bombed, we then talk about the bigger picture?

Some ask why any American would need a Sig Sauer MCX (what Omar Mateen used in Orlando) or an AR-15 (what many thought Mateen used). I ask why do some feel the need to start a protest, which commonly turns into riots in the streets, when they can voice their opinions at the polls? Because it’s their right. If someone feels safer at home with a particular firearm, then they should have every right to own one. The Constitution doesn’t single out any particular firearm or deem some to be more “evil” than others.

I can’t comprehend why it’s okay for lawmakers to have guards armed with heavy rifles, but not okay for the American people to have such tools at home to protect themselves against criminals who may have a gun of that caliber. After all, aren’t we a nation “of the people, by the people, for the people?”

We are missing the point here. No law will prevent crazy, heartless, irrational people who want to do harm from doing harm. The only law that should have been broken in Orlando was the ability to carry concealed weapons in a private business such as Pulse Nightclub. Omar Mateen didn’t follow the law but if there were a handful of trained personnel inside Pulse that morning, maybe fewer people would have died. Every life matters. It’s yet another tragedy occurring within a fictitious so-called “gun-free” zone which only leaves the innocent defenseless.

These laws and regulations still don’t address the root of the problem because lawmakers are pointing their fingers in the complete opposite direction. Firearms are not the problem. For example, if break-ins are being reported in my neighborhood, and I decide I want to purchase a firearm because it’s likely law enforcement won’t arrive in time, per California law I have to wait ten days to receive my firearm. Why do I have to put my life on hold when I’m at risk and criminals can buy whatever they want on the black market? Lawmakers pushing these gun-control measures have allowed criminals and terrorists to possess top-of-the line technology, but want to completely disarm the American people.

It’s a shame lawmakers will prey on people’s emotions to push their agenda, when in fact disarming the American people goes against the principles we were founded on. If police can’t respond in time to save us, clearly our representatives voting for more laws won’t save us either. It all comes down to proper judgment.

The world is made up of so many good-hearted people, but unfortunately, it doesn’t include everyone. There will always be that disgruntled employee, jealous ex-boyfriend, extreme terrorist, or careless criminal we have to watch out for and protect our families against.

I vote for fewer gun-free zones and for more well-trained armed good-hearted people. Criminals don’t deserve to have more rights than law-abiding citizens.

Natasha Sweatte is communications director for Poway Weapons & Gear Range, one of the country’s premier indoor shooting ranges.