The President has asked that NRA members engage in some self-reflection
. That's a good suggestion, and
in this post I'm taking him up on it.
Who needs "assault weapons?" This is a really interesting question;
interesting because it is far less straightforward than most people think. Let's begin at the beginning, with Barack
Obama's Newtown speech
. In it he claimed
that "we" didn’t do enough, "we" bear responsibility, "we must change." "And we
will have to change."
If there was any reason remaining to doubt that Barack Obama
is an extremely dangerous man, this should dispel it. A homicidal maniac murders a classroom full
of children, and suddenly we
are sick. We
must change. And Barack Obama is the man who will make us
do it. He is, after all, "our lord and savior
." He sees himself as the man who
will transform our society, albeit into one that at least 50% of the citizenry
have no interest in. He's seizing the
Newtown crime as a tool for his own political ends. He is ambitious, evil, and extremely
Just so it's clear, I am a gunowner. I’m a member of the NRA. I have opposed and continue to oppose all
forms of AWBs (Assault Weapons Bans).
And I am not responsible in any way for the Newtown shootings. I am blameless. And no, Mr. President, I do not have
to change. Neither do my fellow gun
owning citizens, who are also blameless.
And since we are blameless, don’t expect us to change. Your political campaigning at the Sandy Hook
School vigil was outrageous and deeply shameful. There, is that sufficient self-reflection for
you? (To see how effective Obama’s "we
must come together" message was, note that sales of firearms, especially those
targeted by most versions of AWBs, skyrocketed after Obama's speech, and had
already been at record highs.)
Now we are going to have a "national conversation" about "common
sense gun control," or in other words, Joe Biden will head a "non-commission" (so what is it then, a secret panel?) to decide what should be done to American
gunowners, and Charles Schumer, Diane Feinstein, and co. will hold hearings on
just how many firearms should be banned.
Joe Lieberman has asked for a commission to study broader questions of violence; perhaps the
American people need mandatory psychological screening, or maybe restrictions on freedom of speech and press, to
further reduce the "epidemic of gun violence?" (Never mind that since the old AWB expired, violence committed my means
of firearms has systematically fallen every year, something that also holds where shall-issue
concealed carry has been instituted. (Even the propagandists at Factchceck.org admit this
.) Never mind that the number of firearms per capita is at an all time high and firearm
violence at all time low – "we must act now" (never let a crisis go to waste). Somehow I get the feeling that the NRA and
other pro-gun groups won’t be invited to be part of these "conversations" and
the "national consensus" that emerges.
So we already know the answer to my question that this "conversation" will generate. "Who needs 'assault
weapons'?" Answer: "No private citizen
does, only the government has such need and can be trusted with them, and they
must be removed from private hands." But
that’s an unacceptable answer. Here’s
First, the entire premise of the question is wrong. We do not justify rights on the basis of
whether they are "needed" or not. Rights
are unalienable, they exist prior to government, and government is established
by the people and given power to protect those rights. This is why the Ninth Amendment to the
Constitution reads: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights,
shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people." The idea that we must justify a right based on
some "need" or else we don't have it is contrary to the supreme law of the land, as well as to the
philosophical principles on which the American Revolution was fought and the
United States founded. I realize that
the left does not like this, but in fact they are acting outside of the law in
even suggesting that "who needs assault weapons" is a legitimate question for
designing law. (By the way, does one really "need" the right to choose one's own clothing style? What important purpose does that serve, and think of how much we'd save on so-called "fashion' if we'd simply wear some perfectly serviceable, practical government-approved apparel. My readers may laugh, but the American Economic Review actually published research making this case a few years back.)
The inherent confusion of the question doesn't stop
there. What is "need," anyway? "Need" can never be defined except by first
establishing purpose. What is one’s
purpose? Let’s consider just one firearm
considered for banning, the AR-15 platform.
Supposedly an AR-15 has no sporting purpose, although my favorite gun
store has a large photo of a kid with his first deer, a very large buck taken
with an AR purchased there. He earned
the money himself for the firearm, his father bought it for him, and he hunted the
entire season with it, turning down opportunities to take does, until on the
last day of the season he harvested the deer he was after. While a 5.56 rifle isn't my first choice for
deer, with a suitable bullet it would certainly be at least as effective as the
shotguns to which some eastern states restrict deer hunters. There are other sporting uses for ARs and
firearms that allegedly have no sporting uses, e.g. highpower match rifle and
high power service rifle competitions, and three-gun competitions.
But perhaps sporting uses are beside the point. Would an AR-15 have use in civilian self-defense?
In some home defense settings it is superior to a shotgun or
handgun. If one has the misfortune of
having to employ deadly force in self-defense, the 5.56mm and .223 rounds fired
by an AR-15 are less likely to overpenetrate a criminal, compared to handgun
and shotgun rounds. This makes them
safer, since overpenetration means the projectile exits the criminal and goes
on to possibly harm innocent people. The
AR is also easier to shoot accurately than a handgun, again, a safety feature
for both the person defending her/himself from criminal attack and innocent
neighbors. (Source for these statements
is an article by Lt. Commander Gary Roberts, USNR, in the journal Wound Ballistics Review 3(4):16-18.) Why a high capacity magazine? Pit one home defender against three or four
home invaders and it should be obvious.
Or consider the L.A. Rodney King riots – a number of Korean shop owners
found their businesses and livelihoods under mob assaults and were able to
defend themselves successfully using .223s with 30 round magazines. These firearms do have perfectly legitimate
uses for honest civilians for home defense and for attacks by multiple
assailants and mobs.
And as I have pointed out previously the police have no duty at all
to protect us. American courts, including SCOTUS, have
repeatedly and systematically ruled this.
It’s the job and responsibility of the citizens themselves, i.e. us, and
that’s as it should be in a country of free people. So yes, for the purposes of legitimate
self-defense, we do
need AR-15s and other so-called "assault weapons."
But this brings up another confusion in the question "who
needs assault weapons?" What is
weapon," anyway? As the term is used in
the "national conversation," it's whatever Diane Feinstein or some similar
fanatic defines it to be in a legislative proposal. The Clinton AWB included a sort of points
system in which things like telescoping stocks, bayonet lugs, pistol grips, or
a threaded barrel could qualify a firearm as an "assault weapon." None of these things make a firearm deadlier
or less suitable for civilian purposes.
In military usage, if the term "assault weapon" has any meaning at all,
it refers to a fully automatic rifle
firing an intermediate cartridge. I've talked with a number of people who know
nothing about firearms who believed that the Clinton AWB specifically referred
to these, and that with its sunset anyone could enter any gun store and buy a
full auto weapon. But of course, the AWB
these; they are
entirely different firearms covered under an entirely different set of federal
laws. And no, you cannot just walk into
a gun store and buy them. In short, one problem with AWB laws is that
there really is no sensible distinction between so-called "assault weapons" and
the "legitimate" firearms that we are supposedly going to be permitted to keep. A new AWB won't reduce violent crime, and if
one is put in place and fails, the next step will be to expand it. And expand it. And expand it. (Anyone who has paid attention
to Barack Obama, Eric Holder, Charles Schumer, Diane Feinstein, Frank
Lautenberg and their ilk understands they all would welcome complete
disarmament of American citizens, save for themselves and a few of their friends.)
Given all this, when the "national conversation" asks "who
needs assault weapons" it is confused and misleading at best. The real point of this phony conversation is
for the left to demonize firearms, crush its political opponents and strip them
of power and property, and disarm the public.
The result is supposed to be a passive, defenseless people, one far more
susceptible to whatever social engineering and economic planning our civil
masters choose for us.
But I'm not going to pose a question and then fail to answer
it. So here's my contribution to the “national
conversation." If by "assault weapon" we
mean an AR-15, then who needs one? My
proposed answer: every law-abiding
adult American citizen who is of sound mind.
Call it the "home defense gun." As in
Switzerland, let's make it mandatory. And we should provide mandatory training in
how to use them safely and effectively.
Let criminals be scared of us. I
have no sympathy for cowards and wimps who do not have sufficient personal
integrity or sense of responsibility for their communities to be willing to
defend them. Yes, there can be exemptions. If someone really has physical limitations or
moral reasons for not participating, they can say so. Perhaps there should be a qualification
course before one takes one's home defense gun home, just to make certain one
can handle it safely and effectively.
But let’s dispense with the fiction that gun control is crime
prevention, let’s get serious about teaching people to use firearms properly
and safely (that’s the single biggest thing we could do to further reduce
firearm-related injuries and deaths, BTW), and let’s make sure we are a nation
of free people, not subjects and serfs, and that the people in government are
our civil servants, not our civil masters.