Friday, January 4, 2013

The Case For Assault Rifles and Why We Need Them

By Matthew Schafer
All Rights Reserved

Some people ask why the average citizen needs a rifle that can carry over 100 round clips and shoot 1000 rounds a minute, and those kinds of people should be told to go sit down while the adults are speaking because there isn’t anything about that that is actually correct. I understand that is insulting but this is a serious issue so if you’re not really informed you can’t really contribute in a positive manner. If you think the average citizen can go to a gun store and buy a weapon than can do what I just described, and if you think that that is what the currently proposed assault weapons ban is about, then you’re simply not informed.

FDR banned the private ownership of assault rifles nearly 80 years ago and they are still illegal today, this fact should be known to everyone. What the public has available to them today are not machine guns or even actual assault rifles, they are semi-automatic rifles that have adopted many of the cosmetic features of actual assault rifles. The cosmetic features that our rifles today have adopted make the weapon more ergonomic and more comfortable to use and they make it more convenient to operate. Many of the features actually make the weapon safer to own, but what none of them do is make the weapon more lethal.

Before I get into specifics, I want to point out that studies show that when “assault weapons” were banned in 1994 it had ZERO effect on crime! Not only that, when the ban expired in 2003 and people could legally own these weapons again crime when DOWN, not up. In fact, violent crime has gone down 50% in the last 20 years resulting in this being the most peaceful time in human history.

That’s right. Human beings on this planet have never been safer than they are right now. Some may say, “What about mass shootings? We have been hearing a lot about those lately.” Mass killings are a result of mentally unstable people existing on this planet and it is unfortunate but they will always happen. However, those too are at an all-time low. Mass killings in America peaked in 1929 and with one exception they have been decreasing ever since.

Economist John Lott is widely regarded as the foremost expert on the subject of violent crime and firearms. Years ago after he began his study of the subject he authored a book called “More Guns, Less Crime” and this book, now in its third edition, is the most precise and involved study of violent crime and firearm use in the world. This book does not contain any opinions but rather contains real data and statistics that show one thing: when gun ownership goes up violent crime goes down.

The FBI, which has studied this since its creation, has been telling us the same thing. The ONLY thing violent criminals fear is getting injured or killed, and if they know that citizens in an area are likely to be armed they will stay away from that area. Largely as a result of the work of John Lott the majority of US states passed laws allowing private citizens to obtain a license to carry firearms concealed upon their person and the result surprised many. When the bill was purposed many shouted from the rooftops that allowing people to walk around with guns would result in the streets turning into bloodbaths, violent crime would skyrocket, and society would turn into a version of the movie “The Road Warrior.” What happened was exactly the opposite; violent crime rates dropped, gun violence dropped, and communities became safer.

On the subject of concealed carry, called “right-to-carry,” John Lott said, “All the results indicate that violent crime falls after right-to-carry laws are passed …. There is a large, statistically significant drop in murder rates across all specifications. The before-and-after average comparison implies that right-to-carry laws reduce murder by roughly 20 percent. In all cases, right-to-carry laws cause the trends in murder, rape, and robbery rates to fall.”

So, how did this whole witch-hunt start? Those uneducated about firearms noticed in the 1980’s that legal and publically available rifles were starting to look like military style rifles (adopting cosmetic features) and the mistake was made that their local gun store was selling fully-automatic assault weapons. Unfortunately, a large group of Americans who have more than likely never handled a firearm let alone fired one and have received all of their firearms training from TV shows and movies didn’t understand the difference and decided that modern semi-automatic rifles look too scary and they need to be made illegal.

I am not going to make an argument that we need assault rifles because that is a moot point, assault rifles have been illegal for nearly 80 years, but I am going to make an argument for why we need modern semi-automatic rifles.

My first argument is the very simplistic: why wouldn’t we need modern semi-automatic rifles? The only difference to the average person between a semi-automatic rifle and a bolt action rifle is you can carry a few more rounds and you can fire quicker. That is it. It is not some godless killing machine...it is just a rifle. What I have found is that most people don’t understand what an assault rifle is and they are confused about its capabilities.

The truth is that if you go to the gun store and by a .223 caliber rifle is may have a cool sounding name like a “Bushmaster AR15” and it may look like the military M4 assault rifle but it is not. Most states have laws that limit magazine (what people incorrectly call a “clip”) capacity to 10 rounds or less (you can get higher capacity but depending on your state it may not be legal) while the M4 assault rifle can carry 20 rounds to over 100 rounds depending on how it is fed. The M4 can shoot in bursts (it will fire 3 to 5 rounds every time you pull the trigger) and it can often fire on fully-automatic (it will keep firing as long as the trigger is depressed and there are rounds in the magazine). The .223 you bought at your local gun store can legally hold about 10 rounds and can only fire once every time you pull the trigger, because it is a rifle…that is all it is, it’s not a machine gun.

Government compiled statistics show that semi-automatic rifles, while scary looking, are used in less than 1% off all crime in the US. So, what are we getting bent out of shape about? Even if you just look at mass shootings like what happened at Columbine, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook you’ll see that semi-automatic rifles are rarely used. Most mass shootings are accomplished with handguns and shotguns.

The simple truth is that semi-automatic rifles are not very attractive for the criminal element. Why? First, why get a semi-automatic rifle when you can get an actual assault rifle? Criminals don't’ get their guns legally and they can get their hands on actual fully-automatic assault rifles and submachine guns so why would they bother will semi-automatic weapons?

Second, they are more expensive. Most criminals either get their firearms by stealing them or they buy them from other criminals for extremely low prices; for example, a criminal might sell you a revolver for $100, a semi-automatic handgun for $250, a shotgun for $150, and then a semi-automatic rifle for $800. Most criminals will stick with the handguns and shotguns every day of the week and statistics prove it.

Third, they’re complicated to use. Most firearm experts would consider the average police officer barely proficient with their weapon so how skilled do you think the average criminal is? Most criminals fire their weapons rarely if ever, they instead use them to intimidate their victims. Criminals are often great at violence but have little to no training. The most common firearm used by criminals is a revolver (Smith & Wesson .38 to be exact) and that is because they are cheap, easy to use, and easy to operate. In a semi-automatic weapon there are different levers and such to manipulate and if your gun jams you have to stop and manually clear it, but in a revolver you just put your rounds in and keep pulling the trigger and that is all there is to it. Criminals don’t train and most of them don’t know to properly shoot a gun so a semi-automatic rifle is the last thing they would want.

Fourth, they are hard to conceal. If you’re going to rob someone on the street or hold up a liquor store you’re not going to be walking around with a rifle for everyone to see. Criminals rarely use any kind of rifle.

So, why should the public have access to semi-automatic rifles that happen to have a cosmetic appearance similar to military issue assault weapons, other than the fact that there isn’t really a good reason to take them away? People need them for their own defense. It is as simple as that.

It is estimated that every year 2.45 million crimes are stopped by private citizens who own guns. Statistics also show that whenever there's a spike in guns sales there is almost always a sharp decline in gun related crime. We’ve seen over and over that a well-armed public equals lower crime and safer streets; where in America is there the highest concentration of guns? Chicago. What major city in America has the lowest number of gun violence? You guessed it, Chicago.

We’ve seen, over and over, what happens when the general public is denied access to firearms, just look at what happened in Australia; the Australian government had to make home invasions illegal because when people had guns they never happened but as soon as the public was disarmed they happened in epidemic proportions and prosecutors didn’t know how to charge the perpetrators.

Why do we specifically want a modern semi-automatic rifle for personal defense? A small portion is principle because there is no logic in taking away guns that just look scary; however, the main argument is because they are a better more effective weapon than a handgun. I can defend my family better with a semi-automatic rifle than I can with a handgun. It is a better weapon and it is as simple as that.

My family is simply safer with a semi-automatic rifle in the house then they are without one. Hopefully nothing bad ever happens to my family and hopefully I will never have to pull a gun, let alone a trigger, with the intent of taking a life but if I have to I want to have the most effective weapon possible. I have a .38 revolver in my bedroom but in all honesty I wouldn’t go to that weapon if someone was trying to break into home or harm my family because that gun isn’t a very effective self-defense weapon. It is underpowered and not very accurate. When you shoot a criminal that is out to harm you or your family you want to shoot them and stop them right away and there have been criminals shot numerous times with a .38 and not even realized they had been shot. A shotgun would be better but I wouldn’t have the control and accuracy I’d have if I got out a semi-automatic rifle.

A major problem is that often people have been brainwashed by Hollywood and they don’t understand what it takes to put someone down. On average you will have to shoot someone 3 to 4 times in the torso to make them stop and you just might have to shoot them 5 or more times. There are police officers who have had to shoot suspects 10 or 15 times to stop them, and there have been soldiers who have had to shoot enemy combatants over 20 times (with actual assault rifles) to stop them. People just don’t fall down dead when they get shot, you might just have to put 10 or 15 bullets in someone to save your life so why not do that with the most effective weapon possible?

Consider this last argument: if the new “assault weapon” ban passes it will ban law abiding citizens from possessing many semi-automatic rifles and handguns as well (while criminals are largely unaffected because they don’t get their guns from a gun store) and those that already possess them will be allowed to keep them but they will have to be registered under the “Federal Firearms Acts” (FFA). Every single weapon will go through a thorough registration so the government will know exactly what you have in your home. The problems with this are, first, you cannot take those weapons across state lines without permission from the government which currently can take up to 4 months. If millions of weapons were added the strain on the government would be so great it could 9 or 10 months to get approval. So, if you wanted to go to another state to visit relatives (for example) but your concealed carry handgun fell under this stupid ban you can’t just go, you might have to wait 10 months or more until you can do get permission to do something as inane as that. It is absolutely ridiculous to have to plan your travels perhaps a year out in advance.

Second, historically every time a government has required mass registration of firearms a disarming of the public has followed...every time in every country. What will most likely happen if this ban passes is those firearms will be registered, and then nothing will change because there is no logic to this ban and these weapons are not being used by criminals, just like nothing changed under the last ban in 1994, and sooner or later another mass shooting will happen. When the next mass shooting happens, or maybe one or two beyond that, they will say it since things aren’t changing they need to confiscate our registered firearms and those weapons will be taken away. After disarming the public to that degree it won’t be hard to keep going and in 50 years criminals will be running around with actual assault rifles and the general public will only be allowed .22 caliber single shot rifles to defend themselves with. This is not the smart direction to go in or the direction our founding fathers would have approved of.

Bottom line, the only people buying up and using semi-automatic rifles are law abiding citizens. Criminals don’t want them, especially when they can get their hands on the real thing, so it is only responsible law abiding citizens that will suffer if we take them away.

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