This may seem petty in light of the record-setting mass shooting in Los Vegas.
The apparent culprit was described as having "high powered rifles."
All rifles -- all rifles -- are high powered. If he had been shooting BBs, that would have been a low-powered rifle. Or if he were using a popgun. What kind of rifle would you be willing to be shot with?
The mysterious lunatic in Los Vegas was apparently using "bump stocks" on some of the arsenal of rifles he had in his hotel suite.
As the name suggests a bump fire stock allows the recoil of the rifle to automatically load another round, creating a weapon that seems to be automatic. For some reason this is legal.
The problem is that with the body of the rifle sliding or bumping back and forth accuracy is almost impossible. If all the shooter wants to do is fire many rounds into a crowd, a bump stock will do the job. For accuracy, however, a semiautomatic rifle is far more accurate.
All of which raises the question of why assault type military firearms like the AR-15 are sold in the United States. The AR-15 is the civilian version of the M-16 that is used by U.S. armed forces.
The AR-15 and M-16 were designed for one purpose: to kill people. They were designed to fire a small caliber round at extremely high velocity. The NATO 5.6 mm or .223-caliber round is lethal at several hundred yards. It produces a large temporary cavity, turning the victim's internal organs into mush.
Hunters generally use larger caliber rounds that can cleanly kill their prey. This usually means a bolt-action rifle, which has a low rate of fire compared to a AR-15 with or without a bump stock. A shooter with a bolt action rifle could have killed many people before the police located and neutralized him.
But a hunter's rifle is not designed for combat and to kill enemy soldiers.
This is an important distinction because after the Los Vegas shooting, something must be done. Some legislation must be passed. The number of mass shootings is just too high to go on.
What does not need to be done: restrict magazine size. Assault rifles use smaller caliber ammunition because each solder can carry more rounds. Changing a magazine takes only a second or two.
What does need to be done: Ban AR-15 and AK-47 type rifles. They are not used by hunters. They are used by people who like to shoot things like watermelons and bottles. Some owners may actually use them for target shooting.
Target shooting is basically practice to achieve accuracy in shooting people. The myth of sporting firearms may have been created by the National Rifle Association too justify the manufacture and sale or civilian assault rifles.
This is a modern development. Before the late 20th century there was no sporting firearms industry and the average rifle owner did not equip himself with a semi-automatic person-killing-capable rifle like the AR-15.
The short history of sporting firearms is important. Rifles were invented as instruments of war and were developed during the 1500s through the 1800s to better and more rapidly kill enemy soldiers.
During the Civil War gunsmiths discovered ways to engineer repeating arms. By World War 1 soldiers were still equipped with bolt action rifles like the short magazine Lee Enfield. Machine guns were large and immobile.
Automatic weapons were designed to clear trenches. The Thompson sub machine gun was a trench clearing weapon that was too expensive and complicated for military use. Later versions became military weapons.
The US Army became the first to use semi-automatic combat rifles. The M1 was loaded with a stripper clip and could fire rapidly until the clip was empty and was ejected.
During World War II Germany invented the modern assault rifle, with a straight-back stock, stamped metal parts and chambered for a round larger than pistol and smaller than conventional rifle rounds.
That brings us to the AK-47 and eventually in the early 1960s the AR-15 and M-16.
People in the 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries never used rifles to plink or shoot at targets, except as part of military training. There was no civilian battle rifle industry.
Now it is time to take all assault rifles out of circulation. This may take years or decades, but it must be done.
Otherwise, mass casualties from deranged shooters will continue to rise.