All About “Assault Weapons”
Semi-automatic AR-15-style rifles, like this DoubleStar 3GR, face harsh regulation and a potential ban.
By Michael Bane, Host, “Shooting Gallery”
I wrote this to a gun owner who questioned why I was such a fan of "assault weapons:"
There is no such thing as an "assault weapon"...that phraseology is propaganda from the gun banners. I refer you to this great article in Forbes: http://www.forbes.com/sites/peterferrara/2012/12/28/assault-weapon-is-just-a-pr-stunt-meant-to-fool-the-gullible/
And this article in Human Events: http://www.humanevents.com/2013/01/02/the-ar-15-the-gun-liberals-love-to-hate/
A true "assault rifle" as we correctly apply the terminology is a select-fire — that is, either full auto, where the gun fires until it runs out of ammunition on one pull of the trigger, or semiauto, one shot per pull of the trigger — rifle or carbine issued to the military. Select fire/full auto guns have been rigidly controlled in the United States since 1934 Firearms Act. Nor can any modern firearm can be easily converted from semiauto to full auto, despite what people may have heard or read.
The AR-15 platform is hardly the “choice of John Wayne wannabes and terrorists” as it has been represented. Rather, it is the single most popular firearm in the United States, and the overwhelming choice of competition shooters, hunters and people concerned with their personal safety:
- The AR-15 dominates competition; it rules at the NRA Camp Perry long range competitions and in the fastest growing shooting sport in America, 3-Gun. I recently built a .22 Long Rifle AR platform gun that may be the most accurate .22 I own...and I own many. Using that gun I was able to achieve "Rifleman" status in a Project Appleseed on my first attempt.
- The AR-15 is a superb self-defense weapon, in fact, my personal choice for home defense. After careful analysis of penetration, the chance the round might exit a house, etc., much of which we’ve shown on the shows, we concluded the AR platform in 5.56, the standard caliber, was a far better choice for home defense than a shotgun with buckshot or even a handgun.
- The AR-15 platform is equally excellent as a hunting firearm, both for pest/varmints, a major Colorado hunting activity, and, in heavier calibers, for big game such as mule dear and elk. Because the caliber can be easily changed without a gunsmith by replacing the upper receiver, it is the most versatile gun sold. A hunter can have a .22 Long Rifle upper for small game, a .223 upper for varmints like coyotes and a .300 Blackout upper for deer/elk, on a a single frame for a fraction of the cost of 3 rifles. Colt makes an AR platform gun that is interchangeable from .223 to .308, perfect for hunters.
- The AR-15 platform is the overwhelming choice for people who just like to plink, informal target shooting. The stats we have show AR owners are shooters, expending many thousands of rounds a year.
- The AR platform is ergonomic and adjustable by the owner rather than sending it out to an expensive gunsmith. One gun can fit a small framed person or the Incredible Hulk. The gun is designed to be easy to shoot...in fact, as an instructor, I now use AR platform guns to introduce newbies to shooting.
- An AR platform rifle is customizable by the shooter...there are literally thousands of accessories that can be installed by the user, which allows a shooter to really make the gun his or her own with resorting to a gunsmith.
AR platform rifles may look like military rifles, but they are no different from rifles that have been available to American citizens since the dawn of the 20th Century. The Remington Autoloading Rifle, for instance, was a semiauto featuring a box magazine, available in multiple powerful calibers and was introduced in 1906, a year after Winchester's semiauto Model 1905. In fact, the Remington rifle was continually updated throughout the century. Fitted with a 20-round magazine, it was used by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer against Bonnie and Clyde in 1934. Replaceable magazines have been a feature of handguns and rifles since the late 1800s.
When I was growing up in the 1950s & '60s, the gun rack in my house — note that I said gun rack, not gun safe; no one we knew owned a gun safe — included not only a Remington Model 8 semiauto rifle, but an M1 Carbine with both 15 and 30 round magazines, and an M1 Garand 8-shot semiauto, a rifle described by George Patton as, "The greatest implement of battle ever devised." I wouldn't argue with Patton on that point! Handguns included a 1911 .45 semiauto, several German semiautos and, later, a 15-shot S&W semiauto. These guns could, up until 1968, be ordered through the mail with no background check of any kind.
Amazingly, with all this readily accessible semiauto firepower — much, much more accessible than in today's heavily regulated environment! —schools were safe then. Why might that be?
Again, because a civilian firearm looks like a military weapon doesn't mean that it is the equivalent of that military weapon. You can buy a car that looks a lot like Danica Patrick's #10 Sprint Cup car; paint it green and orange and put all the same stickers on that car that Ms. Patrick has on hers. Yet you will not win any races with your family car. It turns out that everyone wearing Peyton Manning jerseys does not in fact play for the Broncos.
Additionally, this "panic" about evil assault weapons is simply misplaced. According to the current FBI stats (http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/03/FBI-More-People-Killed-With-Hammers-and-Clubs-Each-Year-Than-With-Rifles), more people are murdered annually with hammers and clubs than all rifles (605 versus 438)!
And that's all rifles. Senator Diane Feinstein, the author of the newly proposed "assault weapon" ban legislation, in her own press release referred to "385 deaths" as a result of the so-called "assault weapons" since the previous Clinton Era ban ended in 2004, or roughly 50 death per year (http://www.volokh.com/2012/12/23/feinstein-to-introduce-updated-assault-weapons-bill-in-new-congress/)
While all deaths are to be mourned, let's put these numbers in perspective...300 people die annually from drowning in their bathtubs; more than 100 people are killed annually by strangulation or hanging; as many as 1000 people die annually from autoerotic asphyxiation. According to the author of the proposed "assault weapons" ban, we need to ban as many as 150 million currently legal firearms, create a staggering bureaucracy guaranteed to engender a level of civil disobedience unheard of before in the United States and potentially turn millions of law-abiding citizens in to felons because those firearms were responsible for the same number of deaths annually as bees and wasps (54 deaths a year, http://danger.mongabay.com/injury_death.htm).
This fight is not about "assault weapons"...it is about civilian disarmament, that is, the ultimate goal of the confiscation of all privately owned firearms. That is what it has always been about. None of the proposed laws would have the slightest effect on spree killers, something on which both sides pretty much agree. None of the proposed laws will make us one iota safer.
SHOOTING GALLERY has featured AR-15 platform guns since its very first season when the previous AWB was still in effect. It will continue to do so.
Check out The Michael Bane Blog at: http://michaelbane.blogspot.com/