Ben Beers, a former marine, said the AR-15 is a military-grade weapon that shouldn't be in the hands of civilians.
The school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, last month where 19 children and two teachers were massacred shook the conscience of the nation. The 18-year-old shooter had used an AR-15-style rifle to open fire at the elementary school. No other country in the world experiences this level of gun violence. Many politicians and the NRA are blaming everything from mental health issues to video games and even insecure doors, and are refusing to point fingers at the easy access to guns and the lack of adequate background checks. The teenage shooter had walked into a store and bought a military-grade weapon specifically to kill people. One concerned father wants sensible gun laws to be implemented and is kicking things off by forfeiting his AR-15 rifle. "It's the only thing I can do," he said, reported TODAY.
Ben Beers is a former marine and spent his childhood firing guns. Keeping weapons at his home felt like the normal thing to do and among his weapons was a custom-built AR-15 gun, locked in a safe. In the wake of the Uvalde shooting, Beers has changed his mind about owning a military-grade assault weapon and is questioning the need for civilians to own it. "With AR-15s constantly in the news (it made me think), why do I have these in my home?" said Beers. "I've never used them for self-defense and, to me, it's a token of pure evil and destruction." The assault rifle has been the choice of weapon for many mass shooters including the tragedy at Uvalde and the one at Las Vegas in 2017. “Quite frankly, I’m sick of it. This devastation has happened for decades now and it’s no longer a recreational hobby,” he told CNN. “Every time I look at this AR-15, every time I look at this weapon I’m reminded and haunted by the faces of evil, the innocent victims, and quite frankly, by the tool, the most primary, effective tool used to commit these mass shootings.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in an average year, more than 3,600 people die by guns in Texas, including suicides, reported CBS News. After hearing of the Uvalde massacre on the news, Beers made up his mind "from my gut and my heart" to hand over his AR-15, his 9 mm handgun and the ammunition to the police. “I no longer want them," announced Beers in a TikTok video filmed outside the Hillsboro Police Department. Beers said he knew his actions wouldn't make a change in gun culture but he wanted to do his part, however small it may be. "I know this will not change legislation or anything to do with gun culture in America," he said. "But hopefully, it will be a form of symbolism and hopefully America can wake up because no other country has the problems that we do ... with gun violence."
Sergeant Stewart Kelsey of the Hillsboro Police Department said Beers was returning the weapons as part of a program that accepts weapons or ammunition from citizens. He confirmed that the weapons would be melted into slag using a blast furnace. Beers will then be handed a receipt confirming the same. "I'm tired of hearing that a military-grade AR-15 is comparable to a hunting rifle—it's not," said Beers. "I don't have money or power but if I can do one thing, it's get rid of this ... I want a safer future."
While a majority of Republican lawmakers are still refusing to call for better gun control, GOP donors are urging the party to act in an open letter published as a full-page in The Dallas Morning News on Sunday. It was signed by more than 250 gun-rights supporters, and also included billionaire Robert Rowling, reported Newsweek. "Most law enforcement experts believe these measures would make a difference," read the letter. "And recent polls of fellow conservatives suggest that there is strong support for such gun-safety measures." The letter also backed Senator John Cornyn in leading bipartisan negotiations in Congress to implement potential gun control measures. "We are grateful that our Senator John Cornyn is leading efforts to address the recent tragedies in Uvalde and elsewhere across our great country," the letter read. "He's the right man to lead this bipartisan effort, as he has demonstrated throughout his career."
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