There is so much disinformation and reckless ignorance being spread in this debate over firearms, it's hard to know where to start.
Let's start off with the assertion that a ban of any kind of arms will stop school massacres. For now, let's leave aside the obvious fact that if you have a ban on firearms, the only people who will have firearms are government and criminals. In fact, let's assume that, by some miracle, all guns in existence and all means of producing new guns were gone. Do you think mass killings would stop? Do you think someone who would be deranged enough to shoot unarmed men, women, and children would suddenly think, "Man, I really would like to kill some folk today. Too bad I can't get a gun." and then move on with the rest of his life as a productive member of society?
When someone is that far gone, he will find other means - and those means can be far more deadly than any gun. Let me give you two examples:
1. Cologne, Germany (June 11, 1964): Walter Seifert converted an insecticide sprayer into a flamethrower. He also carried a homemade lance. He entered the school grounds of Katholische Volksschule (a Catholic school), broke the school windows from the outside, and fired his flamethrower into the classrooms setting children and teachers on fire. When confronted by a teacher, he stabbed her with his lance. For whatever reason, he left the schoolyard, swallowed poison, and died the next day.
Killed: 10 (8 children), Injured: 22
2. Bath Township, Michigan (May 18, 1927): Andrew Kehoe, after killing his wife and torching his farm, set off a series of explosives at the local school. He also set off explosives in his truck with him inside while conversing with the school superintendent. There was another bomb that was set to explode, but failed to due to faulty wiring. This was the worst school massacre in U.S. history and a firearm was never used.
Killed: 45 (38 children), Injured: 58
Now, as horrid as the thought of someone coming into a school firing a gun is, consider what dreadful alternative means a madman would use. With improvised weapons such as the ones above, there would be even less warning and far more potential death. Actually, it is far easier to use non-regulated materials/chemicals to kill a large number of people than a firearm. If you are using your imagination, then you know that no amount of regulation will deprive a madman of options for killing.
So, let's discuss the Constitution. Regardless of how you feel about the founders, one thing that they got right is their understanding of human nature. They knew that too much power in the hands of a single man or government body would bring about tyranny. That is why the governing power is separated - not just among the three branches, but among the states and people as well.
The men who fought in the War of Independence were mostly armed, untrained militia. Through God's grace and the help of the French (yes, it's true), they beat back the strongest army on the face of the earth at that time. The founders, who had triumphed over tyranny did not want to establish a government that would become tyrannical. This is why the second amendment was written - not for hunting, not for sport, not for collectors, but as a final check against an overreaching government. This is the part of the second amendment that gets skipped over too often: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." They weren't talking about soldiers. There was no standing army when the Constitution was written. In fact, if you read Article 1 - Section 8, you get the sense that a military only comes into existence on an "as needed" basis.
On to specific weapons: I've heard pundits ask why the average citizen would "need" an AR-15. Let me answer that question: I will be the judge of what I need and don't need. I don't need a politician, a bureaucrat, or a high-nosed pundit telling me what's best for me and my family. Every single person that I have heard on TV or in print that wants the government to confiscate firearms is protected by armed guards. Do you not see a problem with that? Are you comfortable living in a country where only the government have guns? How has that played out historically?
Though, for the sake of argument, I will answer the question directly. Let us assume that you are home with a loved one. Two men break into your house - one through the front door and one through the back. They came to rob, but are more than capable of doing you harm. What weapon do you want with you?
- A revolver has six bullets, has a big recoil, and is not a very accurate weapon.
- A 9 mm Glock has more rounds, but can be difficult to load a round in the chamber.
- A bolt-action rifle is accurate, but is heavy and requires good aim - and you'd better hope they both don't attack you at the same time.
- An AR-15 is lightweight, relatively easy to use, and will fire one round per trigger squeeze - up to 30 per magazine.
Again, which weapon would you prefer? What if there were three men? What if there were five? This situation actually happened in Texas in 2010. A 15 year-old boy protected his 12 year-old sister by engaging two burglars with an AR-15.
With virtually every school shooting, there were only one of two things that stopped the carnage: one was the suicide of the killer and the other was the gun of a good guy. Now, let's return to Sandy Hook. It was reported that the principal, when she heard the gunfire, activated the school's public announcement system to warn of the threat, rushed to confront the gunman, and lunged at him. She was shot and killed. Now, imagine if the principal had access and had been trained to use a firearm. Instead of lunging unarmed at a man with guns, she shoots at him. Regardless of what happens next, the gunman's focus is away from the children and toward the principal. A gunman typically responds in one of three ways: he either attempts to engage the armed citizen, runs away, or takes his own life. The latter two are the most common responses.
Now, let's try another situation for those that feel that all guns should be confiscated (and don't let them fool you - they are talking about "assault weapons" now, but they will come after all arms as soon as they think they can get away with it politically). Let's say an elderly woman lives alone and a burglar breaks in. What means does this woman have to protect herself? A knife? Do you think that would stop someone - an elderly woman with a knife? A baseball bat? You're kidding, right? Name one weapon, other than a firearm, that an elderly woman can have a chance at standing up to a 250 pound burglar. Can you?
Remember this: A firearm is an equalizer. It levels the field for those who would otherwise be at the mercy of a stronger man. Take the firearms away and you leave people helpless, living in tyranny of both the government and the criminal. It's time to start considering the unintended consequences of reactive legislation.