Almost invariably the articles regarding AR-15 rifles, which resemble M-16 military rifles (called “assault weapons” or ”weapons of war” to make them sound more deadly), begin with attacks on the nature of these firearms and then move on to state what the second amendment or an ‘improved interpretation’ is supposed to mean, begin by stating the writer’s credentials so to make themselves appear to be “knowledgeable.”
These credentials are typically rolled out as:
• I have been and a gun owner and hunter for 30 years.
• I was a National Rifle Association (NRA) member who has canceled my membership after 25 years because of their position on “assault weapons.”
• Even though I am an NRA member I strongly disagree with their interpretation of the Second Amendment.
• I am an army veteran (better yet, a combat vet) trained to use an M-16 and I know the only use for this type of weapon is to kill people.
• I am an army veteran and 1 believe the assault weapons ban is consistent with the constitution.
• Veteran and retired wildlife manager — currently a writer.
My commentary on positions taken by these individuals:
One person stated the country was “not founded with the ‘right to keep and bear arms.’ In reality the constitution would not have been ratified without the first 10 amendments. So it has been with us from the beginning. This individual has proposed firearms control almost identical to what Hitler had passed in the 1930’s.
Another individual has described the firearms of the late 1700’s as being “not particularly accurate” indicating that they were acceptable to the country’s founders because they were crude and not effective “from a distance.” Such a statement reveals a lack of knowledge as the “Kentucky Rifles” of that era were effective to at least 400 yards. At 300 yards, 50 percent accuracy on human targets was expected. Kentucky rifles were widely used during the Revolutionary War. In April 1777, General Washington “caused to be formed a corps of 500 picked riflemen – events of 1777 were to prove Washington had created the best regiment of the Continental Army.” These troops were frontiersmen of that day who habitually used Kentucky rifles. As an example, on 7 October 1777, Timothy Murphy fired the shot which mortally wounded a British Major General at some 300 yards. With other riflemen Murphy opened fire on a British barge at a range approaching half a mile in Boston harbor. Their rifle-fire killed or wounded virtually the entire crew.
The point of the above is that Revolutionary War small arms were very effective and that the 2nd Amendment provided for citizen ownership of small arms which were superior to the muskets used by the military. The Continental Congress knew full well what the 2nd Amendment meant.
Another favorite tactic of these “I support the 2nd Amendment but” people, is the means employed to ridicule and demonize the NRA. The most frequent approach is to identify the NRA with big business which by definition means it is evil. This is the same technique which was used against “big oil.” Keep in mind that “big oil” makes a profit of 10-12 cents per gallon of gasoline while “big government” taxes gasoline at 27 cents per gallon, while state tax adds another 25 cents per gallon.
Yes, the NRA does lobby but so do many other groups such as AARP. It’s part of our freedoms to use a phrase. The NRA does work to help protect the 2nd Amendment.
We have a knowledge gap regarding firearms and ammunition. The semi-automatic AR-15 is no different in function than the Remington Model 8 rifle which was first produced in 1908. Nor does it differ from the Winchester Model 100 of the 1960’s or the Browning BAR sporting rifle. What is different is the magazine capacity. The military cartridge for the M-16 and AR-15 is designated the “5.56 mm x 45mm” and the civilian version is the .223 Remington. The .223 Remington cartridge is widely used by the civilian population. In full-metal-jacket form (lead core-copper outer covering) it is used by animal hide hunters. In soft point form it does have some application for small deer. Yet Cokie Roberts and Leon Panetta would have you believe that full-metal-jacket ammunition of this type has no application in the hunting world. Also AR-15 pattern rifles are available in many calibers suitable for really big game.
No matter how a person defines it the 2nd Amendment is not about hunting as many people want the public to believe so as to convince everyone gun ownership has to be limited to those guns suitable only for hunting.
The young mother who testified on 29 January 2013 at the Senate hearing on gun violence spoke eloquently about the need of women (especially) to have large-capacity magazine guns to defend themselves. Her preference was the AR-15 as it is easily controllable by a woman and can have lots of firepower. The Senator that challenged her said there would not be a time she couldn’t defend herself with a “legal” gun – presumably what the Senator would allow her to have – which from what was said would not have been a gun with a large capacity magazine.
Those persons who read police-type publications know that in stressful situations most shots will miss. Also in most cases there will be at least two criminals. Is a home/self defender to be handicapped with a small capacity magazine? Consider the recent shooting of a home invader in Atlanta, Georgia where a mother at home with her children fired all of the ammunition in her revolver only to have the home invader run away. In this she was fortunate as he had sufficient remaining strength to have injured or killed her.
The obvious conclusions to be drawn here are that semi-automatic guns with large capacity magazines have real and necessary utility in home and self-defense. Remember, law enforcement can only react after the crime has happened.
In closing I suggest that everyone read Richard Funk’s “Guest Column” article entitled “No logic in disarming the innocent and providing more victims” on page B5 of the Missoulian on 21 January 2013.
V.A. Ciliberti, Jr., Ph.D.