My first post regarding assault weapon bans was clear cut and thoughtfully written. My second post had tinges of emotion, was not as logical, and it muddied the waters a bit. Since I wrote it, I have had further discussions with friends which have helped me refine my position, and I have also been asked numerous times, “Why would anyone want or need to own an assault weapon that can fire 30 (or more) rounds without reloading?” I write this in an attempt to answer that question, and to clarify my position.
Question: Why would any civilian need an assault weapon?
Answer: No civilian needs one, for any rational reason. Popular gun fanatic reasons include, “If cops and Uncle Sam have them, I want them too, for when the revolution starts.” Or, “If bad guys have them, so will I.” While I actually agree with both reasons on a purely theoretical level, I also realize that, if a revolution broke out, rebels would have a much harder time with Uncle Sam’s spy satellites, drones, fighter jets, tanks, heavy machine guns, mini-guns, rocket pods, helicopters, cruise missiles, and naval artillery than the infantry’s assault weapons. I also don’t hear much about criminals using assault rifles (unless you live in Mexican drug cartel country.)
There are valid reasons to want one. The first two that come to mind are 1) they’re a hell of a lot of fun to shoot, and 2) the low recoil of some versions (The M-16 variants in particular) make them great guns for teaching marksmanship to children and adults with smaller frames.
Of course, there is also the issue of zombies. If you’ve seen The Walking Dead, you know that a single-shot shotgun just isn’t going to cut it when a herd of Walkers comes shuffling through your back door.
Why Do I Own One?
First of all, I don’t. I own a LAR-15, which is a semi-automatic rifle that, in practice, is no different from any other semi-automatic .223 hunting rifle. It just happens to look and operate like M-4 carbine, which is an actual assault rifle capable of fully automatic fire.
I spent a number of years in US special ops as an Airborne Ranger, and during that time I learned to use an M-4 carbine as if it were an extension of my own body. I spent thousands of hours firing hundreds of thousands of rounds through one of these rifles. I shot it until my trigger finger literally bled, and then I switched hands and kept firing.
I bought a semi-automatic variant of the same rifle when I became a civilian because I am more effective, better trained, and safer with that rifle than any other. It isn’t the best caliber for all game, and I don’t hunt that often these days, but when I decide to go, I am good enough with this rifle to hunt anything from squirrels to deer with it.
I know how to take it apart, how to fix it, and how to modify it to suit a variety of situations. The rifle is lightweight and accurate. It is compact enough to move well through brush, and ammo is relatively affordable. I have a few 30-round magazines I brought with me when I left the Army, but I almost never use them. They are a safety hazard on the range because it’s too convenient to lock and load a full clip, not shoot all of it, and then leave the rifle loaded while I go down range. The longer magazines also catch the brush when I get in a patch of mountain laurel, green briers, or wild roses. So I usually load it with a ten-round magazine. I keep the 30-rounders loaded and in reserve, for the zombies.
On the sentimental side, I own one because it feels like a very old and trusted friend to me, and I sorely missed it when I was a civilian and too poor to purchase one. Also, considering the extreme conditions and hardships I endured while using one of these rifles to defend my country, I feel I deserve to continue carrying and using one if I choose to do so. In my more romantic (foolish?) moods, I sometimes think of myself as a retired knight or samurai, and my rifle is akin to my sword that I was allowed to keep as an honor for impeccable service. I certainly treat it with the same respect that samurais afforded their blades, and it’s fine if anyone thinks I’m foolish for entertaining such notions; that simply means they haven’t been where I’ve been, seen what I’ve seen,. or done what I’ve done.
Why Do I Support Gun Control?
I support gun control because some people have no business owning or operating them. They lack the maturity, intelligence, or emotional stability to possess firearms, a fact which has been made evident over and over again by the horrific shootings that have happened over the years. Many gun owners truly are as clueless as this guy is pretending to be.
So yes, I support gun control, but it must be control which addresses the real problems: the people buying the guns, and the people selling the guns. We should call it “People Control.” I will support any law that prevents inappropriate people from owning firearms, as long as it does not limit the choices of individuals who are capable of making mature and responsible choices for themselves. I realize that such laws will not stop all violence, and criminals will still find ways to obtain the weapons, but if even one killer is thwarted by the law, it is worth enacting it – as long as it doesn’t deny choices to others who are capable of owning firearms responsibly.
Why Do I Oppose Gun Bans?
A gun ban limits everyone’s choices. A gun ban is the result of a group of people saying “We know what is good for you, better than you know yourself.” I find this idea insulting and repulsive, that someone else has the arrogance to believe they have the right to dictate my choices to me. No one would seriously consider a ban on sports cars, anti-freeze, or Christmas lights, even though all of those things have probably been used to kill people this year.
What would happen if you walked up to a guy and said, “You don’t know how to eat right. I know better than you do, and so I’m passing a law that bans all-you-can-eat buffet restaurants.” Most people would either laugh at you or tell you to go fuck yourself. Opponents of the ban would argue that the buffet offers healthy choices, and it isn’t the buffet’s fault that people are having heart attacks. It’s the people’s fault for eating six plates of ribs instead of trying the salad bar. Therefore, everyone should not be denied buffet-style dining due to some people’s lack of restraint.
I feel the same way about guns. I cannot accept the idea that anyone has the right to tell me what I can or can’t do, when I have nineteen years of rational, responsible behavior to indicate that I am perfectly capable of making my decisions for myself. I am not arguing for the right to own an assault rifle. I am arguing for the right to CHOOSE to own one. Effective gun control takes that choice away from people who are not capable of responsibly owning the weapon. A gun ban removes that choice from everyone, and it isn’t right or just to do that. It’s a tyrannical, over exaggerated response to an emotional stimulus.
That being said, I would still be inclined to support a ban, if it would make the country a significantly safer place to live. But it won’t. The guns are out there, and will remain out there even if no new ones are sold legally. It’s simple economics: supply and demand. As long as there are people with money who want something, there will be other people who find a way to provide it. If you think that’s crazy talk, study up on Prohibition or the War on Drugs. The exact same economics applies to guns. Therefore, I am unwilling to accept a limit on my choices when it will not have a significant impact on my safety, and I have a very difficult time understanding or respecting anyone who refuses to acknowledge this basic concept.
Why Do I Oppose Anti-Gun Extremists?
I have spoken to people who believe that no civilian should own any guns, but we should have more police and entrust our safety entirely to the government. There are thousands of people begging the government to ban weapons, impose draconian laws, and generally rape the shit out of the Constitution, just to make them feel safe again. These are the people I referred to as “sheep” in my “True Americans” post. I did not mean to imply that every proponent of gun control is a sheep or a coward. I was speaking only about the extremists who want the government to handle the entire mess and ban guns. I realize some families have chosen not to have guns in their homes for reasons of child safety or marital harmony. I am not calling these people cowards. I am referring to the people who say, “I will not own a gun because I do not need to protect myself. In fact, no one needs a gun to protect themselves. That is why we have police.”
I try to walk a mile in the shoes of people who oppose my views. I am usually intelligent enough and creative enough to understand their point of view, but I can’t rewire my brain enough to figure out where these folks are coming from. I also try very hard to not judge people. I try to live and let live, and not draw a line in the sand where I must say, “I am right, and you are wrong.” I am unable to avoid judgment in this case, because my way of life is being judged. I cannot live and let live, because I am not being afforded the same courtesy.
I see anti-gun extremists as cowards. They are unwilling to raise a finger to defend themselves or their families from harm. They would prefer to rely on police and choose to be victims rather than take the steps needed to be prepared when violence enters their lives.
I see anti-gun extremists as meddlers and manipulators. They aren’t content to be the only ones who are helpless. They have the arrogant audacity to attempt to dictate and limit my choices and behavior so that I am as helpless as they are whether I want to be or not. The opposite is not true; I am not trying to tell them “YOU MUST OWN A GUN.” I don’t care what they do; it’s their business. I just want the same courtesy. Leave me alone and do not attempt to restrict the freedom I need to make the choices that are right for me, my family, and our circumstances.
I see anti-gun extremists as hypocrites. I hear much rhetoric about how they are peaceful and passive, and on the moral high ground – but they’re perfectly willing to let police do the shooting for them, if need be. They’re happy as long as they don’t have to get their hands dirty.
Why Do I Oppose Pro-Gun Extremists?
Pro-gun extremists would have us believe that danger is lurking behind every corner, and the government is going to swoop in at any moment and lock us all into prison camps unless we have adequate firepower to fight back. They justify their position with fear, doomsday scenarios, paranoia, and the premise that violence prevents violence. In a best-case scenario, they come across as assholes who had their sense of humor shot off (like some of the commentators in the video I linked above.) More often, they come across as half-crazed Rambos or violence mongering vigilantes. They counter their own pro-gun message with the way they present it. I’ve lost sleep after speaking with some of them, because now I know they’re out there, and they are armed. In their fervor, they do more harm than good for their cause, making it easy for the media and government types to make all gun owners look like maniacs that are in dire need of some restraint. I wish there was a way to just make them shut up and go back into their bunkers, before they cause enough harm, sow enough hate, and spread enough fear to ensure our gun ownership rights really are stripped away.
Where Do I Stand?
I once led a violent life, but I left that life behind. These days, I may talk some tough shit once in awhile, but I am a pacifist at heart. I have absolutely no desire to harm anyone in any way. I enjoy a peaceful, boring life. I avoid trouble anytime I am able to see it coming. When I can’t avoid it, I try to talk my way out of it, or at least stall for time until the cops can show up. I sincerely hope with all of my heart that I never need to raise my hand in violence against another person for the rest of my life.
However, I also understand that there are violent people in the world. There are people who would harm me or my family for their own personal gain, or simply because they can. These types of people cannot be talked to or reasoned with. They cannot be bought, bribed, or intimidated. Running, hiding, or waiting for police intervention are not always viable options. If you have the misfortune to cross paths with these human wolves, it comes down to two choices: stop them, or be their prey. If you do not have the means to stop them, then you don’t really have a choice.
If you have never had personal dealings with these sorts of people, I believe that you have no right to support gun control or gun bans in any form, because you don’t truly understand why guns can be necessary. I don’t care what you believe or what you think you know; until you have been placed in a violent situation where your life is threatened by another human being, you have no accurate frame of reference to argue against gun ownership, and I have no respect for anything you have to say in favor of gun control or gun bans. If you have faced a dangerous situation, and still feel that gun should be restricted or banned, then we can talk, and I will truly listen to you.
I’m getting off my point. I was talking about dangerous people. These villains are not everywhere. Actually, they’re relatively scarce, constituting a very small percentage of the population. But the point is that I don’t know where they are, or when they may become a threat to me or my family. Therefore, I choose to carry a gun, and be well-trained in its use, because I feel it is my responsibility to be able to protect myself and my family as well as possible, in as many situations as possible. I feel I would be remiss in my duty as a provider and protector of my family if I were not as prepared as possible. I understand that everyone does not feel this way, and as far as I am concerned, that’s their choice and their problem – until they start pushing for bans and sweeping regulations that infringe on my choices and my ability to make what I deem to be necessary preparations for my family’s safety.
I will be the first in line to support a law that creates processes or controls which prevent violent, emotionally unstable, or irresponsible people from owning firearms. If the legislation targets the people behind the guns, and not the guns themselves, I will carry the bill to Washington DC myself. But if it is a sweeping ban, or ridiculously overbearing constraints on all gun owners – if it is written by clueless individuals who have never had to protect themselves or never faced any significant danger - I will oppose it with every brain cell in my skull, every word in my vocabulary, and every breath in my lungs.