Wednesday, June 22, 2016

An Assault Rifle by Any Other Name

                Once again, social media is abuzz with emotional responses to an active shooter incident with a record breaking body count.  The “assault rifle” controversy is at the top of the list, and I’m seeing some bad arguments on the pro-gun side.  The most notable chatter is questioning the definition, or even existence, of the “assault rifle," an argument that makes me give an eye-roll usually reserved for flat-earthers.

                First, it’s important to understand that there are many definitions of an “assault rifle,” and the term has been around for decades.  Wikipedia is a good place to start on this one, as it links to the array of meanings.  There’s a popular argument that assault rifles must be capable of full-automatic fire rather than semi-automatic only, but it’s not present in some instances.  Semantics aside, we’re talking about the same thing:  Light, short, high-capacity, mid-powered, semi-automatic rifles available for civilian purchase.  If you’re not sure what to call them, here are the current trendy names.  Pick your favorite adjective and noun:

Assault/combat/defensive/tactical/patrol/black – Carbine/rifle/gun/weapon/platform

Author with his Colt AR15A3
 Tactical Black Combat Assault

Defensive Patrol Carbine Rifle
 Platform Weapon Gun
                Next, let’s not nitpick over the purpose of the black guns. Manufacturers have called them "sporters" as far back as the 1960's when the AR-15 first hit the gun shop shelves.  The vast majority of these firearms are used for lawful sporting purposes without incident, but they are ideal pieces for winning an armed encounter.  Unfortunately, this makes it the best choice for mass murderers in schools, theaters, and night clubs. 

                Imposing a ban on these weapons failed in the 1990’s, and would be a larger failure now.  Mexican drug cartels are currently producing AR-15 lower receivers (the central and federally regulated part of the firearm) for their own use.  I have no doubt that they’d be happy to ship them to the US if another ban was introduced.  They're probably looking for a commodity to replace losses caused by legal marijuana in the US.

                Rifles along the lines of the AR-15 are in police use because changes in criminal tactics required capabilities beyond shotguns and pistols.  When I hear the statement, "No civilian needs an assault rifle," I question why anyone thinks a civilian shouldn't be afforded the same protection as their police.  These rifles are at the top of the food chain of available force, therefore every citizen has a right to defend with and against them.  Despite claims to the contrary, they are ideal for home defense when correctly deployed.  They're a better option than Joe Biden's shotgun.
                Gersh Kuntsman’s article detailing his experience with the AR-15 is a common example of the emotional opposition to firearms ownership.  I’ve spoken to people who claim to experience physical anxiety at the mere sight of a firearm.  Although accepting unfamiliar cultures is all the rage in the United States, it does not apply to cultures in our nation where firearm ownership is commonplace.  Don't give them more fuel.  Own up to the reality of the controversy because the math is on the side of armed citizens.  All that's left is emotion, as illustrated by Kuntsman's masterpiece of un-manliness.  

                I’m often asked what the solution is to preventing mass shootings in the US.  I believe that an armed civilian populace is the only reason the United States isn't in the same condition as Mexico.  In my experience, our civilians are better armed than our criminals.  I have yet to have anyone explain how confiscation, bans, or new laws will help.  Individual choices on safety and defense are the most effective measure of protecting oneself and family from murderers.  Since the black guns have been on gun store shelves since the 1960's, perhaps we should be asking different questions about our active shooter problem.

                Looking at the math and other facts of shooters in the US, we come to realize that there are far greater threats to life in our country.  Criminals with rifles are a very microscopic speck on the chart.  However, murder is always emotional, and firearm issues are extremely polarizing and controversial, and everyone retreats to their political/social happy place.

                Stand strong against the flow of social inertia.  Avoid the pitfalls of political correctness standards of either side of the issue, and realize that government can't solve this one.  Stand fast to your rights and don’t waste time arguing a title.  Develop the courage to act on logic and pragmatism and don’t surrender to emotion.

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