A REASONABLE LOOK AT ASSAULT WEAPONS
By Darryl Bolke
When we look at the current and past debates on the issue of so-called “assault weapons” I have seen a propensity for the public, press, and even my fellow shooters to apply a standard to them that seems to be lacking elsewhere in society. Whenever I debate non-gun owners, liberals, and others who are passing judgment on this class of weapons based strictly on what they are fed by the popular media and the generally uninformed politicians, I use my favorite “gun-control” argument analogy to get my point across. My item of choice to compare guns to is cars. Every-time I hear the call for a ban on guns because some criminal used one to commit a crime, I usually ask if they thought it would be okay for the government to come take their car away because their neighbor was a drunk driver………this usually ends the debate. So lets apply this same analogy to the subject of assault rifles.
My favorite reason to get rid of evil assault rifles is that “nobody needs a gun that shoots more than 5 rounds”. Really, well the fact is that nobody really needs a car that will go more than 65 MPH., but most of us have cars like these. I look at semi-automatic firearms like most cars (pay attention to the specific terminology I am using at this point). Semi-Automatic firearms are like most modern cars. They are simply a more technically advanced design. Just like the cars of today are very much unlike the cars of 50 or more years ago (as well as telephones, appliances, and just about everything else we use on a daily basis, so why should firearm technology stop when nothing else has?). Well, what about those really evil “military styled assault weapons”. Oh, the black ones with lots of plastic. I look at the military based guns as being like high performance cars. I like high performance cars, high performance boats, and high performance firearms. I enjoy owning all of them, and using all of them. As a matter of fact, a lot of Americans love big, high horsepower high performance vehicles. There is very little need for a Corvette or motorcycle that will go well over 150mph, but we do love them. Of course the reality is that a vast majority of these vehicles are used reasonably, or simply collected-just like most military styled semi-automatic firearms (only the police should have high performance cars and assault weapons…seems to apply here as a favorite gun control argument). If the government said that effective January 1, 2010, no one can purchase an “assault vehicle” that has a V8 or larger engine, or is equipped with a turbo or super-charger, is capable of a 0-60 time of less than 8 seconds or is a motorcycle of any kind-even the hybrid driving granola who is driving 45mph in the fast lane to save the world may run down to the dealer to buy a Corvette while he still can. Of course once he gets it before the ban he will have to register it as an assault vehicle so the government can come grab it after the next ban on all assault vehicles.
Lets now look at the real media darling, the true assault rifle. The true assault rifle is fully automatic. Yep, an honest to goodness “machine gun”. These are the most tightly controlled weapons in the country. The amount of paperwork required to own one in the limited states where they are even allowed is staggering. Then there is the cost. They are prohibitively expensive, usually costing tens of thousands of dollars just to get started. The true assault rifles and fully automatic weapons regulated in accordance with the Nation Firearms Act are just like truly exotic sports cars and specialty vehicles, and probably rarer. How many Lamborghini’s, or Ferrari F40’s do really see in your daily travels. Yep, they are that rare. Like most of the true exotic “Super Cars”, legal machine guns are usually locked up, rarely used, and tend to be toys of the very rich and are rarely involved in nefarious activity. What about all these terrible machine guns the press talks about? In this case, those guns are already banned and come with very stiff federal penalties if a person gets caught with one…THEY ARE ALREADY BANNED! The criminals who use illegal guns in crimes (illegal conversions to machine guns and exotic weapons) are likened to the idiots who cannot drive with any level of competency and are street racing their highly (usually illegally) modified cars in heavily congested areas with no regard for anyone else. They (like the criminals who use illegally owned guns) tend to kill some poor uninvolved family or other person other than himself or herself. The reality is that we could leave the guns alone and just ban vehicles and it would be far “safer” world.
I certainly understand that folks who have little or no education about these things to be scared by them. What I do not understand is my fellow shooters who should know better. Let me address these folks at this point. The second amendment is there to provide a means of the citizenry to protect it and to protect all the other amendments. There is not a word in it about sporting use. In the time of the writing of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights the possession of “sporting weapons” was a given. You couldn’t eat without them-period. They lacked grocery stores back then. The musket of those days was the M4 carbine of today. I am a city guy. I live in an urban area and I don’t hunt. I have nothing against those who legally do and total respect their way of life. On the other hand I was a police officer in Southern California for almost twenty years. I have tracked many armed bad guys over the years, and I used modern “Non-Sporting” tools to do that. I can also say with a good measure of confidence that at times of government breakdown (major Hurricane, Earthquake, black out, riot, or other calamity) the tool of choice for a law abiding citizen to protect themselves and their family would be a modern semi automatic firearm. Keep in mind that while rural gun owners do not understand the “need” for modern semi-automatic firearms, those of us in urban metropolises really have no need for a hard-hitting rifle made for dropping a large four-legged animal. From a purely technical standpoint, one of the safest weapons to deploy in the urban environment for non-involved parties that have very little over penetration issues is the 5.56 mm carbine (i.e. AR15) using modern hollow or soft point bullets. They actually have less penetration through hard barriers than most modern large caliber handguns.
Now to address society’s do-gooders. Those hypocrites who are so quick to disregard the rights and possessions of others in order to make themselves feel better. My favorite argument is “if we can only save one child it will be worth banning all the evil handguns, assault weapons, non-sporting firearms (take your pick of the implement of the day). Really. If you want to save some kids from violence and predatory crime the first thing to go would be computers, violent video games, graphic television and movies, and the Internet. I flat guarantee that more children have been victimized by those electronic items than all the evil assault weapons put together. We of course could not do that because it would infringe on the rights of a 10 year old to be sitting at his killing simulator (violent video game) all day, or the rights of a pedophile to have a tool available to him to lure kids to become victims of both sexual and violent crimes (the internet). The same hypocrites who want to erase the second amendment “for the children” are not willing to do the same with anything else. Personally, I would be fine with banning the Internet and computers for the sake of my child. I have a house full of evil guns and books, and my kid is not allowed near the internet or allowed to have video games. That is how I run my home-I’ll stay out of the way you run your house if you stay out of mine.
I would never get into a debate like this without a real solution to the “assault weapon” problem. It is very easy. You pass a Federal law that the use of a high capacity semi or fully automatic firearm in a violent crime, or while conducting gang or drug activity, will result in a minimum mandatory sentence ENHANCEMENT of 20 years to whatever other crime you committed with no probation or parole opportunity with this enhancement. Crooks will steer clear of them. While most criminals aren’t the smartest gems of society, they do understand that getting an extra 20 years just because they had a Glock with them while doing a drug deal is stupid. Punish the action of people and not the inanimate object used by them. That would, of course, go against today’s trend of actually holding people individually responsible for their actions. It is much easier for many folks to blame all of society for the actions of an individual with no regards for the society they live within. I am tired of seeing law-abiding people being made into felons for simply owning an object. I have shot for many years in firearms competition with semi automatic high performance firearms. I have enjoyed just shooting for pure fun with these types of guns. I have carried these same weapons to protect the public as a police office. I have used these tools to protect people who are threatened with potential violence in the private sector, and most important, I choose to protect my home and family with the best tools I can legally own. To me, there is not a single thing evil or inherently bad about that.