OPINION — Every time there are shootings anywhere in this country, the middle part of the country (flyover country) prepares for the inevitable gun control dialogue that inevitably follows mass shootings. And the discussion always begins with assault weapons.

It is highly likely, but unproven, that every farmer in East River, South Dakota and every rancher in West River, South Dakota has what some East Coast or West Coast liberal would consider to be an assault weapon. They have these weapons for business reasons. They use them to kill predators that prey on their livestock. I have seen these tools placed into service for that very purpose.

Others own these semi-automatic firearms for entertainment purposes. Due to COVID-19, ammunition manufacturers have been unable to meet demand for all types of ammunition.  Currently, this makes using these firearms for entertainment very expensive.

Others still buy these firearms for personal safety. Do they actually live in fear that some burglar is going to break into their home and steal their cool stuff? No. They will tell you they have these guns to protect themselves from hostile government forces. This seems twisted to most reasonable people. That is, of course, until someone in the government publicly says something like, “Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15.”

Finally, there is one other group of people who own these guns. They are people who are, for one reason or another, bent on loading multiple high volume magazines full of deadly ammunition so they can walk into a grocery store or a massage business or an elementary school and begin shooting innocent people of color, grocery shoppers, country concert goers, law enforcement officers and children.

We know that this last group of people are outhouse-rat crazy. The public only finds out they are lunatics after innocents have perished. But somebody, somewhere knew they were lunatics before the ammo was purchased. There must be some way to identify these people before they act on their twisted thoughts, right? We need better background checks, right? We need to make sure that every time a firearm passes from one owner to another, a more thorough background check and comprehensive personality profile evaluation is conducted prior to the one-year waiting period, right? But first, we need to outlaw the ownership, sale of and manufacture for retail of any and all “assault weapons.”

Now, the gun control advocates will try to comfort us hillbillies in the middle of nowhere by telling us they aren’t after our “hunting rifles.” (For now.) We’re not after your self-defense handguns, they say. (For now.) You can still have your shotguns, they say. (For now.) You can still have your .22s and your competition target rifles, they say. (For now.) What they don’t understand is that when they say “you can keep” or “we’ll let you have” or “you can still have,” it makes our skin crawl and our blood pressure rise. For some of us, firearms are as much a staple to us as kale in the refrigerator is to them. The Second Amendment isn’t about hunting, target practice or protection from burglars. Never was.

I have used this space before to tell you I think people who open carry into businesses are trying to intimidate people. These people look ridiculous, because open carrying in the absence of a threat is ridiculous. It makes the people open carrying appear to be the threat. It is just a matter of time before one open carrier shoots another open carrying convenience store patron because the first mistakenly thought the other was going to shoot the place up.

It’s dumb. But they have every right to be dumb. They do not have a right to open carry if the business or the law forbids openly carrying a gun. What about self defense in the event of an actual active shooter? Nonsense. The odds are severely against a bystander ending active shooter’s mayhem.

Based on information from the Biden administration last week, the gun control issue is escalating, either by legislation or by executive action. And, no matter what they do to restrict gun ownership, it will not survive a Supreme Court challenge.

Michael Sanborn writes from Rapid City.

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