On Friday, a Florida gun owner announced that he’d turned in his AR-15–style gun to the police in a now-viral Facebook post. In the aftermath of the deadly Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Wednesday, Ben Dickmann arrived at the conclusion that neither he nor any civilian “needs this rifle.”
In the post, Dickmann announced that he was turning in his AR-57―a variant of the AR-15 rifle, which has been the weapon of choice for several high-profile mass shooters―to the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Above a group of images of him handing over the rifle, Dickmann described his thinking, saying that while he really liked shooting the gun, he didn’t think it was a necessity in his life, or in anyone else’s.
“No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle. This rifle is not a ‘tool’ I have use for. A tool, by definition makes a job/work easier. Any ‘job’ i can think of legally needing doing can be done better by a different firearm,” Dickmann wrote. “I enjoyed shooting this rifle immensely but I don’t need it, I have other types I can shoot for the same enjoyment.”
He concluded the post with a jab at the American political system, which has broadly failed to pass and enact any meaningful gun control reform despite calls for such after each of the many major mass shootings in recent years.
“If our law makers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example,” he wrote. (Many have pointed out how much money lawmakers have accepted in campaign contributions from the NRA, including Time, Fortune, and the New York Daily News.)
Dickmann’s post comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of American gun culture and the epidemic of American mass shootings, both in schools like Stoneman Douglas, and in public spaces and crowded events as happened in Las Vegas, Nevada, last year. The Wednesday shooting in Parkland claimed 17 lives, 14 of them students, while the shooting in Las Vegas killed 59 people, and injured more than 500.
— ABC7 Eyewitness News (@ABC7) February 17, 2018
Dickmann spoke to NPR’s Michel Martin on Saturday, discussing the decision to turn in his gun and his hope that it would inspire others to follow suit.
“It’s come after a lot of soul searching. Everybody always says—you know, it’s the big argument right now—everybody’s offering thoughts and prayers but nothing else,” he said. “And I thought, well, this is something I can do that I think is right. And it’s something I can do that might spark a change.”