Everyone is horrified by the mass shootings in recent decades, but I am still surprised when a gun owner says “I support banning of assault weapons.” It’s important we get our facts and perspective straight and ask the right questions. Most groups define a “mass shooting” as four or more shot in a single incident. Over 90 percent of the mass-shootings in the United States have been with a handgun, and have been gang-related in cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.

In 2018, of the roughly 40,000 deaths by firearms, approximately two-thirds, 28,000, were suicides.

In past decades, guns were far more prevalent and far easier to get. Until the 1968 Gun Control Act, anyone could order an AR-15 through the mail, with as many 20-round magazines as you could afford.

Many feel society changed. Many boys are being raised without fathers, kids are on SSRI drugs that didn’t exist, nor did so many chemical food additives, preservatives, flavors and fragrances, kids are addicted (it’s now officially a disorder) to interactive violent video games. Society has changed a lot, but guns really haven’t.

“Assault weapon” remains a poorly defined term. They are not machine guns; they do not “spray” bullets nor have a high rate of fire. They are semi-automatic firearms that fire one bullet with one trigger pull, just like any semi-auto hunting rifle, and they fire cartridges with the same muzzle velocity as hunting rifles.

The Second Amendment was never about hunting or self-defense, as those rights were considered obvious. It was about a “free state” and a citizenry being able to defend itself against a “tyrannical” government.

Our leaders should understand the miniscule role rifles play in nationwide homicide statistics, and not lazily grab the low hanging fruit by thinking banning “assault” rifles will have a meaningful impact on violent gun deaths. Not when such weapons play such a key role in fulfilling the intent of the Second Amendment and, statistically, harm so few.

Our leaders are not asking the right questions. Why so many mass shootings now?

Why are the shooters typically white, middle-class boys? What do they have in common? What changed? Why now? It isn’t the guns.

Barry Bookman, Vaughn