Let me toss this out here. I imagine we are getting more hits than usual, some looking for "ammo". We probably don't need an article on this, but I thought I'd throw out an argument to give 'em something to read. If you think it's OK, I'll post it in a regular section; if you don't think it's necessary, or might cause harm, I'll sit on it and that's OK too.
People ask: Why does anyone need one of those Assault Rifles?
I'm not going to get into what I want to get into, which is that the Constitution or Bill of Rights doesn't specify what guns we can have any more than it doesn't specify what media is covered by the First Amendment. In that regard, I don't think the question makes sense, but it's the one I'm hearing.
First, they are not Assault Rifles. Being factual, and I'm sorry it sounds like I'm being anal, but an Assault Rifle is a specific thing. One of the characteristics of an Assault Rifle is that it has to be capable of "select fire", which is the ability to switch from semi-auto to full auto. Semi auto is one shot per trigger pull. Full auto keeps shooting as long as the trigger is held back; a "machinegun".
By getting specific on terminology. I'm not quoting from an NRA How To Placate Media Attacks handbook; using the right terms makes a difference. We have to clarify what we are discussing. As with anything that has been around for generations, specific words mean specific things, and the gun world is full of very specific terms. Ask for "ammunition for a .300 caliber rifle" and you stand a good chance of getting the wrong thing because, believe it or not, you were too vague in your description. The term "Assault Rifle" is not just vague; it's inaccurate in this case.
Quite simply, the term "Assault Rifle" is a firearm term used by people unfamiliar with firearms. There is such a thing, but the guns in question are not it.
Recently, I learned some think the "AR" in the AR-15 rifle's name stands for "Assault Rifle". I didn't realize they thought this, but that's not what it stands for. The rifle was designed in the 1950s by a company called ArmaLite. The "AR" came from the first two letters of that company, like other guns they designed. Well before the AR-15, they had a rifle called the AR-5, which was a 5-shot bolt action .22. After the AR-15 came the AR-17, which was not even a rifle, but a shotgun. The ArmaLite company was a division of Fairchild Aircraft, created to experiment with taking new, lightweight, materials used in building airplanes and applying it to firearms. The name was a way to remind people of their edge in materials technology.
Rather than "Assault Rifles", a common name used by those familiar with them is "Black Rifles" because, obviously, most are all-black because of their materials. I like the term "Sport Utility Rifle" because, like the vehicle, they are multifunction guns that perform a variety of things well. You will still hear people with some firearms knowledge call them "Assault Rifles" but it's usually people with limited knowledge who are used to having heard them called that so many times.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever you call them, they are just made for killing."
To a rational thinking person, that simply makes no sense. Of course they can be used for killing, but so can a rock or a glass of water. Phrases such as "just good for killing" implies it's their only function, and that nothing else can kill, and by "kill" they really mean "cold blooded murder".
Every murder I've ever heard of was committed by a human being. Are humans made just for killing?
The biggest mass murder at a school happened in 1927. The killer used dynamite. Those are not the only deaths ever connected to dynamite. Is dynamite just for killing?
What about cars? Alcohol? Ladders? More deaths are connected to them than guns each year. All made just for killing?
Yet some want to not only ban guns, but a specific type of gun. They single out Black Rifles. Why is that? I'm not in favor of any gun ban, but to me, singling out a specific type makes even less sense.
Are they more powerful than other guns? To the surprise of many- No. Usually they shoot a cartridge that is on the low end of the scale.
Are they a "bullet hose" like some would believe? We already covered that they are not full auto. One shot per trigger pull.
But isn't that too fast? What is too fast? Where do you want to set a speed limit?
What about bayonet lugs, heat shields, pistol grips, and folding stocks? Again, look at this rationally: How does having a few more bumps, holes, or a hinge make a gun OK or not OK?
But they look scary. Ah, there it is. The first time this sort of panic started, a friend/co-worker was at my place, pointed at the rifle I shot competition with, and commented that they should probably be banned. I showed him another rifle and asked what he thought. It was OK, he said. As you might have already guessed, the only difference was appearance. Both shot the exact same cartridge, both were semi auto, and both took a detachable magazine. For all practical purposes, they functioned the same. They only looked different.
OK then, so what good are they? Why do people want them? So they can play soldier?
For a while now, the most popular gun in the US has been the AR15. Lets look at what advantages it has over some other guns to a law abiding buyer (which, don't forget, are 99.99% of their owners):
For one thing, the AR15 designs are well-tested. Even though it is different from a military M16, the basic design principles are the same. We've been spending taxpayer money refining this design for 50 years. Why not take advantage of what you've already paid for? They work. They are accurate. They are designed to handle military stress. I can buy a quality AR15 and know it will function, shoot well, and last the rest of my life even if I shoot it often.
They are adaptable and easy to accessorize. I can set one up for a tall person, for a short person, strong or frail, experienced or beginner. I can install any size or shape of stock in minutes. If I need an optic of some sort, they clamp right on.
Any gun is a safer gun if it fits, functions, and hits where it's aimed. Problems happen when the shooter struggles with a gun that's too clumsy, or when they can't align their eye with the sights, or struggle with malfunctions, or are afraid of it.
I used one in matches where the fastest shooting portion was 10 rounds- no more, no less- fired within a 60 second time limit. Look at your watch and see what six seconds between shots is like. I switched to the AR15 from a more "traditional" rifle and my scores went up immediately.
I also use them in other timed matches. I also used one for coyotes when I lived on a farm, because it was a rugged rifle that stood up to being bounced around in trucks and tractors daily, yet had the accuracy needed. I also use them as home defense guns.
Like I said: They are multifunction tools. Not only that, but unlike many multifunction tools, they are often the best tool for these functions.
Yeah, but what about the shootings where they are used?
The New Town, CT...or the Clackamas mall...or the Aurora movie theater...or any other shooting would have been as bad whether or not an "Assault Weapon" was there or a chef's knife...or a can of gas and a lighter...or $5 worth of chemicals from a home improvement store. Defenseless people held in a group are defenseless people held in a group. The very same day as the New Town school tragedy, a "man" entered a school in China with knives and hacked up 20 people.
I think some people miss the obvious: These were all "gun-free zones". All they did was make it convenient for the murdering cowards.
In addition, these types of guns are banned in CT, where the school shooting happened. They are also banned in Chicago, where, as I type this, they stand at 485 murders for the year. That's a New Town, CT every other week.
Laws are for the law-abiding.
Criminals break laws. That's what makes them criminals.
So obvious it sounds like I'm being silly. To the rational, its just as silly as thinking an "Assault Rifle" ban will do anything but cause harm.