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Gender: Male
Hometown: Eastern North Carolina
Home country: United States
Current location: Eastern NC
Member since: Wed Dec 1, 2004, 04:09 PM
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Most such incidents involve people leaving guns within reach of young children,

failing to use a holster (or using a crappy one), using an old gun that's not drop-safe, or someone grabbing the gun by the trigger after they fumble it. Often a combination of all of the above.

A decent defensive firearm shouldn't go off if it's dropped, or even thrown off a building. And if it does drop, let it hit the ground and come to rest, then pick it up by the grip; don't try to snatch it out of the air. It won't go off if you drop it, but it will if you pull the trigger trying to catch it.

As to why keep a round chambered, if you are carrying a pistol, it isn't just the time factor, it's that chambering a round requires two hands (as others have mentioned). If you are in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm that you can draw a gun and shoot, you almost certainly need that other hand to fend off your attacker, get to cover, get your children to safety, etc. And if you are carrying a revolver, leaving the cylinder ahead of the hammer empty doesn't make it child safe, because if a child can pull the trigger once, they can pull it twice. Keep it on your person IN A HOLSTER or under your direct supervision, and store it where a young child won't access it.

As an aside, I am a fan of manual safeties in addition to passive safeties, and the one gun I typically carry IWB (Smith & Wesson Lady Smith 9mm) has one. They aren't for everyone or for all situations/carry modes, but they are another option to consider.

If you think a ban is feasible (however unlikely), and you might want to own one someday,

picking one up would be a small investment; a Smith & Wesson or Ruger AR can be had for under $600 if you shop around. AR's are still legal even in California and New York, but the handgrip shape legislation makes ban-compliant ones less ergonomic and (to my eye) rather funny looking, so if you one one with a decent grip and adjustable stock and are worried about new handgrip/accessory restrictions, then by all means get one. Or, pick up a few magazines for guns you might want to own someday, as a hedge against unlikely-but-not-out-of-the-question new bans.

At minimum, rifle and magazine prices are going to increase for a while over the next year, because I think sales are going to increase. I don't think an actual Federal ban is likely for many reasons, not least of which is the backlash against the Feinstein non-ban of 1994; if 25 or 50 times as many people own "assault weapons" now as then, and the Feinstein law provoked an immense backlash even though it didn't actually ban AR's and AK's or their magazines at all, then the backlash against an actual ban now would be monumental.

I'm actually in the "thinking about buying a rifle" boat myself, not for a second AR but for a small-caliber bullpup of some flavor; I've wanted an AUG since the late 1980s, but William J. Bennett and Dianne Feinstein priced that idea right out of my working-class reach in the '90s, so I went with an AR-15 instead. Now that I'm a bit better off financially, I may make an AUG or something a financial priority; we'll see. I would hope Clinton would be smart enough to not actually push for new rifle or magazine restrictions, but I thought Gov. Hickenlooper was too until he caved, so I've been wrong before.

They are indeed rifles. The most common rifles in U.S. homes, in fact.

Non-automatic, civilian, Title 1, small- and intermediate-caliber, rifles. Shotguns and the occasional odd pistol (like the Hammerli pistols used in the Olympics) sometimes fall afoul of "assault weapon" regulations, but almost all "assault weapons" are simply autoloading rifles with handgrips that stick out.

For example, this rifle (a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle) is *not* an assault weapon in any state:


This one *is* an "assault weapon" in some states:


And this one will get you half a decade or more in prison in California or New York:


Here's the kicker: All of the above are the SAME RIFLE. Just different furniture. You could take the very modern looking one at the bottom and swap the stock for the straight wooden one up top in literally 30 seconds. I used to own a Mini-14 myself, and I owned 3 stocks for it; the straight wooden one, one with an ergonomic vertical handgrip, and one that folded for storage. With the latter, it would have been an "assault weapon" under the 1994 Feinstein law; with the former, legal under the Feinstein ban and AFAIK even legal in New York City; and with the middle one, it was a felony in California but legal almost everywhere else. Simply by swapping the stock.

AR-15's, the most popular rifles in U.S. homes, are the same way. Mine looks a lot like this:


but if you alter it a little to accomodate a straight 19th-century-style stock, you get this, which is legal in every state. Again, stock shape. The upper receivers are interchangeable.


As to hunting, plenty of people hunt with "assault weapons", especially small game, but AR-15's and such are often considered underpowered for deer-sized animals because most of them are very small caliber (most fire .223 Remington/5.56mm, the smallest of all common centerfire rifle rounds). But, one of the nifty things about the AR platform is that you can also get them in larger calibers better suited for deer, like 6.8mm SPC, or (if you step up to the larger AR-10 platform) .243 Winchester, 7mm-08, or .308. The only difference between a "hunting" rifle and a "nonhunting" rifle is whether or not the person holding it is in the woods stalking a deer, or not.

The thing is, though, that "assault weapon" owners outnumber hunters by at least 2:1 (although most hunters also own nonhunting guns, so there's overlap). And gun-owning nonhunters outnumber hunters by at least 5:1.

Were it not for the ongoing Holy War against lawful and responsible ownership,

I think discussions of this nature could find a lot more common ground. When I first started posting on DU circa 2004-2005, I floated a few proposals that I thought might could be a productive middle ground. I don't recall all of them, but universal background checks (with felony criminal penalties for abuse of the system, such as compiling a registry), a tax credit for the purchase of UL-listed gun safes, and such were a couple I remember. There were more.

That was before it became clear that the real goal of the gun control leadership isn't to reduce violence, but to reduce lawful ownership by the non-violent, which is why the #1 priorities of the gun control lobby are banning the most popular sporting rifles, and restricting/banning lawful concealed carry. I think the reasons are complex, and range from elitism at the Bloomberg/Wall Street/corporate-media level (you don't see them advocating to take guns away from corporate security and elite bodyguards, do you? just from the working class and middle class), to a variety of issues on down the line. But the goal is not violence prevention, it is ownership prevention. Just look at California, or what the gun control lobby is now proposing at the national level.

In that environment, compromises such as those I once advocated---or prior compromises that gun owners made, such as the ban on all automatic weapons, the ban on armor-piercing handgun ammunition, requiring a license in order to carry, ownership bans for certain people---become weapons to be used against lawful ownership itself, and until that changes, I think you'll continue to see mistrust of all such proposals. For example, had gun owners ever thought that a veteran appointing a financial representative to help manage his/her Social Security benefits would be later used by the gun controllers to label him/her a "mental defective" barred from gun ownership for life, there would have been a lot more opposition to some of those bills. And when the people pushing "mandatory training" or "safe storage" or "universal background checks" are simultaneously talking about compiling registries, banning and confiscating the most popular guns or else, and outlawing self-defense, it undermines even the proposals that might have some merit.

If you apply the "AWB" logic to cars...

I posted this on the "old" DU back in 2006, hence the Dubya reference (and Saturn, RIP)...it's "assault weapon" rhetoric, and associated misconceptions and handwaving, applied to cars.

Election Is Mandate for Race Car Ban

The Republican-led Brady Campaign to Stop Car Violence announced today that the results of last week's election, which gave control of the Senate and House to Democrats, show that the public is demanding a ban on race cars.

"Race cars have no legitimate transportation purpose," said the head of BCSCV. "You don't need a Ford Focus to tow a boat. It would pull the boat to smithereens." He added, "We're not trying to take anybody's cars, we just want to get deadly race cars like the Ford Focus and Honda Civic off the streets."

In an appearance with Senator Dianne Feinstein (DLC-CA), activists explained why banning race cars is so important. "Unlike conventional cars, race cars don't have to be steered, but merely pointed in the general direction of where you want to go," explained a race car expert from the Vehicle Policy Center. "And the rear wings on these cars enable them to slide sideways around corners."

"I'm tired of 13-year-olds running down 8-year-olds with NASCAR stockers," said a spokesperson for the Democratic Leadership Council, which has made the race-car ban its top legislative priority since the early 1990's. "We need to get these deadly race cars off the streets. They are the transportation of choice for bank robbers and drunk drivers."

"Race cars like the Honda Civic are truly vehicles of mass destruction whose only purpose is to outrun as many police cars as possible without having to refuel," added a spokesperson for Massachusetts-based Stop Car Violence. "Many of these cars are designed to go 350 mph."

He also noted that if someone snapped and went on a road rage incident, driving a Civic would make them much more dangerous than if they were driving a more conventional vehicle like a Chevrolet Suburban. "This is just common sense car control. Our bill doesn't affect responsible car owners. We're not trying to take away anybody's Hummer H2; our bill specifically targets race cars like the Mazda 3."

Incoming senate Democrat Jim Webb, an opponent of the ban who recently defeated Allen Macacawitz in the Virginia senate race, objected to the proposed ban. "Banning sport compact cars is stupid, doesn't help address drunk driving, and is guaranteed to piss off car owners. Congress has bigger fish to fry, like figuring out what to do with Iraq, helping people who don't have health insurance, and stopping the flood of jobs going overseas."

Feinstein dismissed Webb's concerns as right-wing gibberish. "Everybody knows that the #1 threat to this country is people driving race cars on the highway," she said. "Al Qaida wants to buy Honda Civics with wings so they can destroy our freedom. They hate us for our freedom. Oh, wait, that was George's line."

President George W. Bush, a supporter of the Race Car Ban, said he'd sign the ban if it gets to his desk. "I don't think its a good thing in our society for people to have these cars," said the President, reading from a Teleprompter. "It's just Unammerican. They should drive pickup trucks instead. Only terrorists and illegals would want to drive Civics." He added that no civilian car needs a rear wing. "You know, wings are for flying, and, uh, cars aren't supposed to fly."

The Race Car Ban of 2006 bans all compact cars with two or more of the following racing features:

Four valves per cylinder
Aerodynamic spoiler or wing that protrudes conspicuously above the trunk lid or rear deck
Air dam
Hood scoop
Chrome exhaust tip
Levitation lights

The Race Car Ban would also ban the following race cars by name:

Honda Civic (all models)
Subaru Impreza WRX
Mitsubushi Lancer (all models)
Honda S2000
Volvo S40
Mazda 3 and Protoge
Toyota Corolla
Scion (all models)
Saturn Ion
Bentley Speed 8
NHRA Top Fuel dragster
Caterpillar D9
Boeing 737
Airbus A380

In order to reassure car owners, the bill's sponsors included a long list of non-race cars that are not affected by the legislation:

BMW 3-series
Cadillac CTS-V
Cadillac Escalade
Chevrolet Suburban and Tahoe
Ford Edsel
Ford Model T
Ford Mustang (without wing and spoiler)
Ford F-150
Hummer (all models)
Jeep Cherokee
John Deere Tractor
Kenworth T2000
Sopwith Camel

The bill also makes it a felony to own a car manufactured after Sept. 14th, 1994, that has a fuel capacity of more than ten U.S. gallons of fuel.

"Assault weapons" are legal in Germany, Sweden, France, Norway, Hungary, Switzerland, Finland...

See here:


Handguns are also legal in many European countries, with varying levels of restriction; Czech and Swiss shooters can own pretty much anything Americans can, while Italians are limited to certain calibers (e.g. 9x21mm instead of 9x19mm). The UK is very much an exception to European gun laws in general, which is why the British Olympic team has to practice somewhere with more freedom, like France/Germany/Switzerland. Still, even Brits can own semiautomatic shotguns of unlimited capacity, high-powered sniper rifles, and even "silenced" firearms, so even the UK doesn't have the level of restriction you are imagining.

I think Japan comes closest to what you are imagining, and ironically Japan has an overall violent death rate (murder + suicide) higher than that of the United States, because of their astronomical suicide rate.

"Assault weapons" are civilian non-automatics (mostly small caliber), not machineguns.

"Not everyone can handle machine guns. (I'm sure you don't want to see multiple posts of accidental shooting with machine guns).
Improved training? Yearly renewals on licenses? On specific guns only?

Solutions from the pro-gun side? "

"Assault weapons" are civilian non-automatics, not machineguns. They are also the most popular non-automatic civilian rifles in U.S. homes. The most common ones are small caliber (e.g. a basic AR-15 is a centerfire .22).

I own an AR-15 myself, a Rock River model with a target barrel, and shoot it recreationally and competitively; it doesn't fire any faster than an ordinary pistol, and is somewhat slower to reload. It is also too way big to conceal, which is probably why rifles are so rarely used to kill people.

Out of ~12,000 murders annually, the FBI says less than 250 involved rifles. (The true number is probably around 270, or a little over 5 murders per year, per state.) That makes rifles, including "assault weapons", the least misused of all weapons in the United States.


The prohibitionists aren't trying to ban "assault weapons" because they are commonly misused, or because they are more lethal than other guns, but because they are the most popular rifles owned by gun enthusiasts. The whole "assault weapon" fraud was intended by its creator (Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center) as a way to build momentum for more comprehensive gun bans, not as a means to address gun violence. Rifle violence is lower now than it has ever been.

Did you know that "assault weapons" (including AR-15's) are legal across most of Europe? Here are a bunch of European sport shooters shooting AR-15's in their home countries: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1172&pid=189580

Your post is a good example of why "shall-issue" laws have proven necessary, and here's why.

"John Doe applies for a permit to purchase. In the course of the background check you find that John's wife of 47 years has recently died and according to his children John has become reclusive and withdrawn.

Would you issue the permit to purchase? Why or why not? "

Yes. Because it is more likely that the purchase of a firearm is an attempt to distract from the grief of losing a spouse, and to attempt to return to normalcy, than to commit suicide (run the numbers yourself). And making someone a "nonperson" by taking away their autonomy and revoking a cherished civil liberty is more likely to add to his grief and pain than to help ameliorate it in a healthy fashion. (And I take it that you oppose a right to suicide?)

I have a friend and mentor in exactly this situation right now, whose wife of nearly 50 years just died suddenly a few weeks ago. He owns guns. And shooting/reloading is right now one of the healthiest outlets he has; it keeps him from sitting in the rocking chair in the living room staring at the wall. And I expect he's probably bought new guns since she passed away (as well as a new vehicle). Do you really think that taking away his hobby, never mind his civil rights, just as he's trying to return to normalcy would be helpful?

I haven't just lost someone close to me, but I have been through a couple of dark times over the course of my 45 years, and I can guarantee you that what you propose would have made my situation less healthy, not more. Maybe you should consider the unintended consequences of taking autonomy and personal responsibility away from people who value autonomy and personal responsibility above almost all material possessions, before suggesting rash actions like imposing felony-class criminal penalties (which is exactly what you are proposing) for simply losing a loved one.

Would you take away somebody's house if they lost a spouse, because most suicides occur at home? Would you take away their car, or their Internet access, or their right to travel to places with bridges and high places? Would you put them in protective custody, absent other factors that would warrant an involuntary commitment? If not, why not?

"Second scenario: Bill Smith applies. In the course of the background check you discover that Bill, a self employed contractor, is deeply in debt, on the verge of bankruptcy, separated from his wife and children and according to his wife has a large life insurance policy.

Would you issue the permit to purchase? Why or why not. "

Absent any threats of violence and a due-process revocation of rights, yes.

You do realize that *I've* been close to that situation myself, right? Tens of thousands in medical debt from my special-needs son, and went through a painful separation several years ago (though not from the kids; my wife and I weren't hostile). Both my wife and I owned several guns each, and both my wife and I had large insurance policies with the other as the beneficiary. Neither one of us even thought about violence, and we worked through it.

A few seconds' thought would also reveal that your implied "plan" (murder the spouse and collect the money) is so ridiculous on its face that it could have come from a CSI: Miami episode. I don't think anyone smart enough to fill out a BATFE Form 4473 would actually think that you can collect on a life insurance policy by murdering the policy holder with a gun.

"Suppose you are in a Permit to Purchase jurisdiction and you are the LEO entrusted to issue permits to purchase. The program requires a background check to include at least telephone interviews with immediate relatives, employer (if any) and any references offered by the applicant."

So you are imagining making buying a gun as onerous and expensive as getting a high government security clearance. Do you think applying such draconian preconditions to, say, getting an abortion, would be even remotely constitutional? I don't.

Rifles account for about 5 murders a year, per state. Five.

"Decent, responsible people from coast to coast own guns. Whether for self-defense or sport shooting, they use their guns legally and safely.

In what civil society, though, is the private possession of assault weapons necessary?"

"Decent, responsible people from coast to coast own rifles with handgrips that stick out. Whether for self-defense or sport shooting, they use their rifles legally and safely.

In what civil society, then, is putting people in cages for owning protruding rifle handgrips necessary?"

FWIW, all rifles combined account for less than 270 murders annually, out of ~12,000. That's around five murders per year, per state. Many states have zero rifle homicides annually. And yet you want to outlaw the most popular non-automatic civilian rifles in U.S. homes. Just who is the fundamentalist, again?

Skepticism of Bloomberg's magazine bans, in the Los Angeles Times.

It seems to me that the gun control lobby has lost all perspective on what they are ostensibly fighting for and why.

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