One of my favorite tools on my Swiss Army knife is the toothpick. It’s cleverly concealed within the body of the knife and is useful after eating anything that tastes like chicken; it also works great for pulling pulled pork out of back molars.
When my knees allowed me to hike in the Colorado Rockies I always packed my reliable Swiss companion. I loved its smooth, flat finish and all the wonderful ways I could employ its many MacGyver-like features.
The tweezers yanked out wood slivers. The can opener opened many cans of Dinty Moore stew. Cheese had no chance against the serrated wood saw. Scissors worked great on rogue eyebrow hairs. I never could figure out the “reamer,” but I still felt better knowing it was there.
However, one purpose I never imagined for my trusty knife was self-defense. Bears were always a concern; humans an even greater threat. (They still are.) But what would I have done when confronted by such vicious beasts? Whipped out my Phillips screwdriver? Or charged at them brandishing the multi-purpose hook?
Turns out I was wrong.
Recently, US District Judge Roger Benitez of the Southern District of California threw out that state’s long-standing ban on assault weapons, equating an AR-15, mass shooters’ weapon of choice, to my Swiss Army knife.
The judge’s reasoning sounds like something out of the National Rifle Association’s hymnal of idiocy or a blurb from a past Sears Roebuck catalog: “Like the Swiss Army Knife, the popular AR-15 rifle is a perfect combination of home defense weapon and homeland defense equipment.” I am surprised he did not echo the NRA’s embrace of the AR-15 as “America’s Rifle.”
The judge’s decision came on Gun Violence Awareness Day making this a perfect storm of insensitivity and insanity. (It also led me to again question the logic of lifetime appointments for federal judges.)
But, wait, there’s more! “This is an average case about average guns used in average ways for average purposes,” said Benitez, a George W. Bush-appointed judge. “One is to be forgiven if one is persuaded by news media and others that the nation is awash with murderous AR-15 assault rifles. The facts, however, do not support this hyperbole, and facts matter.”
AR-15: Weapon du Jour in Mass Killings
The NRA estimates that there are more than eight million AR-15s or its variants now in the hands of Americans. No wonder it’s become the weapon du jour in mass killings. Yet, it’s always the media’s fault!
Unlike a Swiss Army knife an AR-15 has one basic function: to quickly kill as many human beings as possible with as little effort as possible. Humans that look like you and me; our sons and daughters, our moms and dads, our uncles and aunts, our infants.
An AR-15 kills humans indiscriminately in churches, temples, mosques, synagogues, K-12 schools, country-and-western concerts, grocery stores, malls, street corners, and movie theaters.
And thanks to the NRA’s lobbying efforts, and a twisted interpretation of the Second Amendment, Americans can own as many of these long guns as we wish.
Americans like Stephen Paddock. Because there have been so many mass shootings in the United States you might not remember Paddock. He was guy who decided to slaughter 60 human beings and wound another 400 or so from his hotel room in Las Vegas. Police found 23 rifles in the hotel room, including 14 AR-15s with extended ammo bump stocks. Another 19 guns were found in his home. I cannot confirm or deny that Swiss Army knives were found in either the hotel room or this monster’s hovel, but I have a pretty good idea that knives were not his thing.
By the way, Nevada allows you to own machine guns. It’s called the Wild West for a reason.
Do note that there are no secret compartments in AR-15s. No toothpicks. No corkscrews. No can openers or tweezers. But there is a compartment for bullets — many bullets.
Another fact for Judge Benitez: I know of no one who was ever being killed by a Swiss Army knife.
But don’t take my word for it. “My daughter’s in a cemetery … because a Swiss Army knife was not used. Because it was an AR-15,” gun control activist Fred Guttenberg said on CNN. “If a Swiss Army knife was used, my daughter and most of those other kids and adults would be alive today.”
He is referring to the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on February 14, 2018, when 17 people were gunned down, including Guttenberg’s beautiful daughter Jaime. The weapon of choice? Smith and Wesson’s M&P15, the company’s version of the AR-15.
Yup, folks, just your average gun used for an average purpose on yet another average day of mass killing in a nation with below average expectations of ever doing anything about it.Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of The Globe Post.