Florida gun owner hands AR-57 rifle into police after Parkland school shooting: 'No person needs this'

'I will be the change I want to see in this world,' Ben Dickman wrote in a Facebook post

Judith Vonberg
Monday 19 February 2018 12:11 GMT
Florida shooting: A grieving community tries to come to terms with the loss of 17 lives

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Louise Thomas

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Horrified by the school shooting in his state last week, Florida gun owner Ben Dickmann decided to take action, handing in his rifle to the local sheriff's office.

“I will be the change I want to see in this world,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “If our lawmakers will continue to close their eyes and open their wallets, I will lead by example.”

Mr Dickmann lives a short distance from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot and killed 17 people last week.

Mr Dickmann owned an AR-57 rifle, a variant of the AR-15 that was used in the attack.

The AR-15 is both the most popular gun in America and the type most often used in mass shootings in the country.

Stephen Paddock, used one to kill 58 people at a music festival in Las Vegas last October and the same weapon was also used by Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik to kill 14 people at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015.

Adam Lanza also used on to kill 20 young schoolchildren and six staff members at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. The same year, James Eagan Holmes killed 12 people with one of the rifles at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado.

In his post, Mr Dickmann said he owned several guns, but is most concerned about this particular weapon.

“I do not need this rifle,” Mr Dickmann wrote. “No one without a law enforcement badge needs this rifle. I have surrendered this rifle to The Broward Sheriff at the Tamarac Post. I could have easily sold this rifle, but no person needs this.”

His decision to surrender his rifle came one day after he penned a long Facebook post calling for the US to take action against gun violence.

“As I struggle to make heads or tails of another senseless mass shooting in the USA, I can no longer offer only my 'thoughts and prayers'," Mr Dickmann wrote. “I have to stand up and say 'THIS MUST STOP.' I can’t stand idly by and say 'It’s only the crazies'. It’s time to actually do something.”

He called for an end to the domestic manufacture and import of military-style semi-automatic weapons and better training for new gun owners.

Mr Dickmann urged others like him – conservative-leaning, gun-owning white males – to start taking action too.

“Until my demographic gets behind this, nothing will change,” he wrote. “I am ready to sacrifice some of my 'rights' here to make them 'privileges' in the interest of the common good.”

Mr Dickmann’s posts come in the midst of a recurring debate around US gun laws.

While some commenters argued that little would be achieved by “good people” giving up their guns, others thanked Mr Dickmann for his actions.

“Truly taking personal responsibility,” wrote Standen Daniel. “Great work!”

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