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Oklahoma has a Tom Cotton-y senator by the name of James Lankford who appeared only mildly deer-eyed on Meet the Press on Sunday.

There he explained that AR-15s are present peacefully in his safe neighborhood, that some people use them to hunt, and that kids ought to be able to continue getting them.

Let’s correct that. He didn’t explain diddly.

He merely asserted by the NRA automaton’s rote that military-style weapons favored by persons between 18 and 21 who kill high numbers of children inside their schools in a few seconds — because the weapons are light and mobile and shoot with menacing rapidity — are not the problem. He said the shooting youths are the problem.

He favors tighter background checks so that only youths not pre-emptively known to be disturbed could buy them for mass school-shooting convenience.

The AR-15 facilitates wiping out more kids faster than would be possible with slower weapons. But that’s irrelevant, the Oklahoma senator was saying.

Two children dead from a cumbersome old shotgun or 20 from practically a military M16 — what’s the difference? That was essentially Lankford’s position.

The Oklahoman espoused this stance after the host pointed out that federal law bans handgun sales to those under 21, but not AR-15s, and asked whether we might ought to make that uniform — that is, limit the AR-15s by age as we limit handguns by age since most of the school shootings are by kids with AR-15-type guns.

The Cotton-y senator said no. He said there are more gun deaths in America from handguns than from AR-15s.

That is true. Handguns are passion’s preferred weapons in short-range, single-target domestic matters. Statistics on deaths from handguns also include suicides. Not to be insensitive to the great tragedy of despairing people taking their own lives, but it bears mentioning that a person committing suicide is doing so on his own time at close range and probably will only need to fire once.

None of that has anything to do with the fact that a 19-year-old kid can buy an AR-15 and take it into a school and execute mass numbers of children.

It is true that the Florida shooter was deeply troubled and had given out warning signs that should have been heeded, and that our background-check procedures must be tightened. It’s also true that, if Florida restricted AR-15s by age as the federal government restricts handguns by age, the disturbed young man surely would have murdered fewer. Or he would have chosen not to bother trying to kill at all.

Since Lankford did not do any real explaining, I will.

He, like so many others in our cowering political class, is beholden to the gun organizations because of their money and their mass-mailing political power back home. An A-minus grade from the NRA can get you beat in some jurisdictions — like Oklahoma.

Constituents will wonder: What’s that minus all about, anyway?

The AR-15 is a brisk seller for the gun industry. To get led by a media person’s line of reasoning on national TV into suggesting that we ought to restrict AR-15s for children at least to the extent that we restrict handguns for children … well, you may as well just not run again because you’re inviting less than an A on the next NRA report card.

And everyone knows it’s more important for a deer-eyed automaton of a guy to stay in the U.S. Senate than it is to try to make it more difficult for a kid to kill large numbers of kids at school.

There is nothing about the constitutional right to bear arms that says you can’t limit the sale of AR-15s precisely as you limit handguns. And if admitting that gets a senator from Oklahoma beaten, then surely the state has another automaton with which the gun industry could befoul Washington.

People always blame Washington without realizing Washington is nothing but the people they send there.

John Brummett, whose column appears regularly in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, is a member of the Arkansas Writers’ Hall of Fame. Email him at Read his @johnbrummett Twitter feed.

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  • shortfinger1001
    February 21, 2018 at 5:39 a.m.

    Just wait until the NRA begins defending those swell new personal flamethrowers.

  • RBear
    February 21, 2018 at 6:18 a.m.

    It is time to reinstate the AWB from 1994. During that time gun homicides from MASS SHOOTINGS fell significantly, some years posting ZERO homicides. When the ban was lifted in 2004, gun homicides from MASS SHOOTINGS rose and have been rising ever since. I have to cap the word MASS SHOOTINGS, because as Brummett has pointed out gun nuts try to confuse the metrics, focusing on overall gun deaths.
    Gun deaths overall did not drop because the AWB addressed only a small portion of the gun inventory. But that portion is the weapon of choice of mass shootings. That has proven to be the case with the numbers during the AWB ban and with numbers from other countries. Those ban assault weapons and see far fewer mass shootings than the US. In fact. the US surpasses entire continents in mass shooting homicides year after year.

  • mozarky2
    February 21, 2018 at 7:22 a.m.

    Meanwhile, in democrat-governed, gun-free zone Chicago over the President's Day weekend, there were 8 people murdered and 30 people wounded.

  • BoudinMan
    February 21, 2018 at 7:33 a.m.

    In other news that we probably won't see covered in this paper, The Democrats flipped another house seat last night. In a district which trump won by almost 50 pts. in the 2016 elections, a former schoolteacher who once held the seat took it back from the repubs. This marks the 37th state house to flip since trump won. 11.6.18

  • RBear
    February 21, 2018 at 7:39 a.m.

    More lies from moz who parrots the lies of the idiot in chief in the WH. Chicago is not a gun-free zone and does not have the nation's strictest gun laws.

  • TimberTopper
    February 21, 2018 at 8:03 a.m.

    The Republicans are owned by the NRA, and the other more rabid group. They want us to believe that corporations are people. They are not. They are owned by people. But in saying and ruling that way the dark money flows into the Republican Party. We must understand that OK being a red state for so long has really benefited greatly, for example the schools pretty much ran out of money so they had to go to a 4 day school week, among other great deeds thanks to the Republican Party of OK. I will state again, having been a life long gun owner and hunter, and having hunted everything except, bear, elk, and animals in Africa, an AR15 is not needed for hunting, nor was it's design made for hunting.
    Another thoughtful article John, of course the ignorant will be on you like flies on honey. However, we must remember, that some of them are about as useful as a fly.

  • malice06220956
    February 21, 2018 at 8:12 a.m.

    They prefer them because they think they look like Rambo while they're killing people. Perhaps we should study why people kill vs. how they kill. Treat the symptom, ignore the disease.

  • mozarky2
    February 21, 2018 at 8:34 a.m.

    What lies, RB? Did I say anything about the toughest gun laws in America?
    Chicago DOES have a total ban on firearms.

  • RBear
    February 21, 2018 at 8:44 a.m.

    Actually it doesn’t moz. Yet another false piece of info from you. I’ll let you do the research to see how WRONG you are.

  • Packman
    February 21, 2018 at 9:11 a.m.

    RBear being dishonest, again. First, the definition of "mass shootings" changed to fit the liberal narrative. Second, he attempts to say the AWB was THE reason for the statistical variance, which is patently unproven. Third, a guy named John Lott performed peer reviewed research on the question and found RBear's conclusions to be bullsh*t. And not to disrupt RBear's narrative, but an AWB leaves about 15 million of those sporting firearms in circulation among the general populace and available to bad guys in any number of ways.
    Regardless, I have a deal for you RBear. I'll support the symbolic ban on rifles manufactured on a military platform if you will support arming teachers in schools. Deal?