Assault Rifle Myth

I am not going to lie to you. I don’t know that much about guns. I have shot a few, but I have never been licensed or owned one of my own. I am not one of those “gun toting” conservatives that, according to Sarah Palin, make this country so great, but I do not side with those who would like to see the private ownership of firearms disappear. I have said before that the private ownership of assault rifles, like the one used the the elementary school massacre, seems a bit shaky to me, but I do not see enough reason to remove them from people who have acquired them legally.

Here is the problem that I keep seeing. All over social networking sites, people are talking about the assault rifles as if they were monsters that exist to do nothing other than kill and turn their innocent owners into rampaging lunatics, is if they contain some sort of dormant virus waiting to prey on their gun owning host. Perhaps that is an enormous exaggeration, but people are reacting emotionally to this horrific incident, instead of taking the time to cool down, and not react in hate. I imagine it would be impossible to scroll through your Facebook (or whichever social networking you choose to use) without seeing something about banning assault rifles.

When we start to think about this rationally, what really separates an assault rifle from a handgun? Assault rifles look much meaner, but the two weapons actually serve close to the same purpose, and the word “close” may not make this fall the way you might think. Rifles, a class of gun, take multiple forms. They can be used in hunting, or be more like the AR-15 the shooter used. Handguns, while they can have multiple different names, all serve one purpose. What purpose does the handgun serve? It is very simple.

People killer.

Handguns are designed for the specific purpose of killing humans. Some may say that they are used in hunting, but that is a misnomer. Some hunters will carry a handgun as a means of  last defense in a dangerous situation. Self defense, not hunting. Hunters do not walk into the woods with a handguns to take down deer. That would be silly. Some would say, and mostly be right, that assault rifles hold more ammunition at one time. The oversight however, is the ease and speed of reloading handguns. This paired with the small size of handgun clips allows for crazy people to fire off just as much ammunition with handguns. Also, there is difference in the caliber of the ammunition, but this is a plus and minus as well. Bigger bullets are more lethal, but more difficult to carry large numbers of them. Smaller bullets in turn are less lethal, but easier to carry outrageous numbers of rounds. Accuracy is the last thing that might be brought up. Realistically, and this may seem gruesome, accuracy does not matter in room the size of a classroom, or even a movie theater.

Now, to be clear, this is more of a rant about some of the things I am seeing on social networking than anything else. But it seems to me that people have quickly forgotten that assault rifles do not perpetuate these types of actions. Not long ago, at a college known as Virginia Tech, a shooter, armed with only two handguns, killed 33 people and injured 17.

This isn’t going to dissuade anyone, and may only make people who want to ban assault rifles want to ban handguns too, but the most recent attacks on the private ownership of assault rifles is nothing but an emotional response to the recent massacre, and have not been thought out in a rational arena. While they may seem like great ideas, politically they make little sense. I believe this is the case with the Assault Rifle Ban that many people would like to see put back into effect, but the major oversight is that thanks to our Constitution, and its protection against “ex post facto” law, existing assault rifles cannot be banned. It merely prevents the sale of new firearms through dealers who would likely background check anyways. The problem that follows is that the existing weapons can still be sold at gun shows by people who may, or may not, background check. As a matter of fact, they may not even ask for a photo I.D.

I personally believe that the problem with gun violence in our society is not to be solved with legislation restricting gun rights (I have already mentioned that laws only affect those who follow the law, which is not a category murderers fall into.). It seems more reasonable that we as a society need to push for a more responsible means for the sales of firearms, so that they may not fall into the hands of the people we are talking about in the first place. We need to ensure background checks for the purchase of all firearms, with hefty penalties for distributors who fail to meet this requirement. We ought to develop our understanding and recognition of personality disorders which are often the active ingredient in horrible evens such as the massacre that just took place.

Perhaps assault weapons, and other high powered firearms, could be lumped into one class or category, with which one would have to clear more thorough clearances, as my (nameless) friend, who I do not always agree with but have come to respect quite a bit, over at “Reason and Politics” has suggested. Check it out at:


8 thoughts on “Assault Rifle Myth

  1. Thanks for linking to me. My name is Josh by the way.

    You cam upon an important point when you wrote about the difference between an assault rifle and pistol. The problem in the assault weapons ban lies with the difficulty in defining the two. For example, this weapon is legally a pistol, and not an assault weapon, so it bypassed the ban:

    its just an AR-15 with a short barrel and no butt-stock, but its still legally a pistol. Add a stock and you have a Class III short barreled rifle, which must be registered like a machine gun. Crazy, right?

    • Hi, Josh. It is crazy. It seems to me that restricting gun rights will not do much in solving this issue, especially in light of the weapon you just showed me. Even if assault rifles are banned, people have access to the same exact weapon, simply without a butt-stock. I hope that this is what Mr. President is hinting at, not just the re-instating of an ineffective ban.

      • I hope so too. Like I argued in my post, American can own any weapon they like, and the most dangerous are registered as “Class II.” None of those weapons has ever been used in a crime. Why? Because registration and regulation work. They allow gun owners full freedom of choice while ensuring the nuts and criminals can’t get them.

        Its not the only thing needed. Many people have brought up the sorry state of mental health in this nation, and I do not disagree.

  2. This all sounds great but the one question I have is that even with very good background checks and figuring out if someone is disorder free that still leaves the fact that this particular shooter used legal guns purchased by his mother (hmmmm bet she might regret that had she lived). So even this will not stop evil. I certainly am not going to look up how many murders have happened with guns that belong to others but just an observation on this particular event that is causing everyone to think that guns are the important thing to argue here and now they have proof that guns should be banned. I don’t like guns any more than the many people that argue to make them illegal to own and I do not and probably will never own one myself but I agree it is not the gun that kills.

    • You are correct that the guns were legally purchased, but they were not purchased for his use. Nancy Lanza went through a divorce three years ago, and according to family members she felt vulnerable as a single mother in her home. She did purchase the weapons and register them in her name. The weapons were then illegally obtained and used by Adam Lanza. A gun owners first responsibility is to secure their weapons. While we do not know how the events actually unfolded in the Lanza home, it stands to reason that they were either not secured, or she gave him access to the weapons. Had they been secured, this could have been avoided.

      I do not think that the goal here should be to “stop evil,” because that is an unobtainable goal. The goal should be to drastically reduce.

      And who knows, would she have cleared more in-depth checks if they knew she had a son with a personality disorder?

    • Any excuse to diarm the law-abiding and make us serfs will do.

      Soemthing those who never had to worry about a GD thing in their lives seem to forget.
      Ever had to disarm someone pulling a knife on you? Ever had to deal with a mugger? Are you comfrotable using a staff? Cane? Waiting for the police to show up so they can put a chalk line around your body?

      Banning weapons doesn’t work against criminals. It didn’t work with alcohol (even after the GOVERNMENT poisoned alcohol). Didn’t work with drugs, either. Won’t work with guns any more than cigarettes.

      You DO NOT have the freedom to tell me how to live. Though there are times I’d LIKE to tell people drugs are bad – they believe Prozac, et al will cure ALL the world’s ills… Lie back and take more soma. We don’t need – OR WANT – you. Go find your perfect Romper Room. Cuba’s not far away, even China can be reached easily. May your chains rest lightly, and may history forget you were ever our brothers.

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