Ben Dickmann’s AR-57 rifle. “No person needs this,” he said of the weapon which he asked police to destroy. Picture: Facebook/Ben Dickmann
Ben Dickmann’s AR-57 rifle. “No person needs this,” he said of the weapon which he asked police to destroy. Picture: Facebook/Ben Dickmann

‘No person needs this rifle’

BEN Dickmann knows he's probably one of the most hated demographics in America right now: a gun-owner who believes in his right to own a weapon.

He's hunted since he was a child, but the mass shooting at a Florida school last week left the 40-year-old "sickened", "mad" and "tired".

Mr Dickmann wanted to offer more than "thoughts and prayers". So he walked into a Florida police station and gave up one of his deadliest weapons: a semiautomatic AR-57 rifle.

"No person needs this," he said of the weapon which he asked police to destroy.

He posted his surrender in a Facebook post which has been shared more than 220,000 times.

He joined many other Americans who have reached breaking point with America's gun culture in the wake of the latest mass shooting.

Detailing the surrender of his AR-57, Mr Dickmann said he is "a responsible, highly trained gun owner".

"However, I do not need this rifle. No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle.

"I enjoyed shooting this rifle immensely but I don't need it, I have other types I can shoot for the same enjoyment," Mr Dickmann wrote.

"I could have easily sold this rifle, but no person needs this. I will be the change I want to see in this world. If our law makers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example. #outofcirculation".

Ben Dickmann, who surrendered his semiautomatics weapon in the wake of the mass school shooting. Source: Facebook/Ben Dickmann
Ben Dickmann, who surrendered his semiautomatics weapon in the wake of the mass school shooting. Source: Facebook/Ben Dickmann

In an earlier at post, Mr Dickmann spoke of his "struggle to make heads or tails of another senseless mass shooting".

"I can no longer offer only my 'thoughts and prayers'," he wrote. "I have to stand up and say 'this must stop'.

"I don't want my friends to worry about sending their kids to school (or worry about my wife doing any one of her countless high school visits as part of her job). I don't want my pastor friends to worry about the congregations during worship. I don't want my concert touring family to worry their events.

"I'm tired. I'm tired of hearing about thoughts and prayers. I'm tired of hearing now is not the time to talk about gun control. I'm tired of hearing there is too many guns in the market that we can't control it.

"I'm tired of hearing it's purely a mental health issue. I'm tired of hearing it's purely an 'assault rifle' problem. It's all of these things. All of them".

'WE NEED BETTER'

Mr Dickmann said he's a member of "probably the second-most vilified demographic in the country currently ... a conservative-leaning, gun-owning, middle-aged, financially stable white male" - and that it's this group who must drive gun law change.

"My demographic is the majority of gun-owners, the majority of law makers (being bought by the gun lobby) and the ones that always stand behind the 2nd Amendment as an omnipotent shield," he said.

The receipt for the surrender, showing the AR-57 marked to be destroyed. Picture: Facebook/Ben Dickmann
The receipt for the surrender, showing the AR-57 marked to be destroyed. Picture: Facebook/Ben Dickmann

"We need better, more comprehensive gun control, ownership, and training requirements in this county. We need to start this now. We needed to start this 20 to 30 years ago in all reality."

Mr Dickmann called for an end to the domestic manufacture and import of new military style semiautomatic weapons and parts. "No one can deny the statistic that these are the most popular class of weapons used in mass shootings," he wrote.

"I have owned rifles in this category. I get it. The rifle can be cheap, the ammunition is cheap. I know the buyer. They 'look cool', they are fun and easy to shoot."

But he added the sobering detail: "For the sadistic, they come standard with 20-30 round (even 50 round in the case of the P90), making mass killing easy and fast".

He said there was no need for them to be in public.

"People will argue them as a hunting rifle, but, I'm sorry, this is not a good hunting rifle if you are a true sportsman. If you are a true hunter, you want the most accurate rifle you can buy, and short barrelled, semiautomatic rifles are not the most accurate things out there."

REGULATIONS ARE 'A JOKE'

Taking aim at the "golden shield of the gun rights activists, the 2nd Amendment", Mr Dickmann said owning guns "can be a right" but "anyone who says it's well regulated at this point is lying to themselves or living in a cave" because current regulations are "a joke".

"In Florida, you can get a concealed-weapons permit which allows to you carry a gun, and purchase one without a waiting period in a day," he wrote.

In his class, only half the participants had previously shot a gun, Mr Dickmann said.

Passing the class required only sitting through three hours of a video presentation, "then go to the range and put a couple round from a .22 caliber handgun on a paper plate at 10 feet," he said. "Literally anyone can do this."

An officer completes the paperwork with Ben’s surrendered AR-57 nearby. Picture: Facebook/Ben Dickmann
An officer completes the paperwork with Ben’s surrendered AR-57 nearby. Picture: Facebook/Ben Dickmann

He said anyone serious about their "right" to keep and bear arms should be "willing to prove your ability to maintain that right".

"I am. I know I would pass. Any responsible gun-owner should be able to," Mr Dickmann said. "There are so many other types of guns out there that you can still own and use, we don't need the military style rifles in the public market."

Mr Dickmann was lambasted as much as he was lauded when he posted his surrender on Facebook.

Many welcomed his move, but others noted he still kept a number of his guns, and challenged him to get rid of all of them.

Some gun owners said he was "plain stupid", and accused him of attention seeking.

Mr Dickmann told npr that he has no master plan when he handed his gun in, but was happy to have sparked debate.

"Hopefully [it] causes some action. I hope somebody - be it the students, be it the next generation - picks up the torch and does something," he said.



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