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Gender: Male
Hometown: Eastern North Carolina
Home country: United States
Current location: Eastern NC
Member since: Wed Dec 1, 2004, 03:09 PM
Number of posts: 11,738

Journal Archives

The gun control lobby pushed the "assault weapon" issue as a way to build momentum

"Why did they ban assault weapons in 1994? why do several states have bans on them, encompassing perhaps near a third of the population of the US?"

The gun control lobby originally pushed the "assault weapon" fraud as a way to build momentum for tighter controls on handguns, even knowing full well that rifles weren't a problem.


Unfortunately for them, by going after lawful gun owners instead of criminals, by going after the most popular "enthusiast" guns and demonizing their owners, they provoked an activism backlash from tens of millions of same that all but destroyed the gun control lobby. It still boggles my mind that Sugarmann/VPC and the Brady Campaign didn't see that coming, but once the media swallowed the bait-and-switch then it was probably hard to acknowledge the truth without losing face.

The "assault weapon" meme first gained traction in Washington under the supervision of arch-right-winger William J. Bennett, as I recall, who saw it as a way to look "tough on crime" to right-leaning authoritarians, but all he was able to push through was some arcane import restrictions later codified into 18 USC 922(r) that could be worked around by using U.S.-made parts. Bill Clinton later jumped on the "assault weapon" bandwagon, for exactly the same reason (as a way to triangulate conservative law-and-order types) not realizing the ban would be hugely unpopular with mainstream gun owners. Dems paid the price hard in '94, '96, and '00 for that mistake, as Clinton recounted in his autobiography, and the sitting Speaker of the House lost his seat for the first time since the Civil War.

To this day, it never ceases to amaze me how the gun control lobby became so unhinged over modern rifle styling, and how many otherwise reasonable politicians fell for the wacky rhetoric ("they blow deer to smithereens! don't even have to be aimed! spray fire from the hip! only useful for mass murder!") even when faced with the incontrovertible facts that rifles are the least misused of all weapons, and that "assault weapons" are just Title 1 civilian semiautos.

"Proscription provides an upper limit to what combination of lethality & accurate rapid fire can be produced"

Oh, baloney. The original sponsors of the AWB spent as much or more time demonizing oversized 9mm pistols (civilian Uzi, Intratec TEC-9) and civilian 7.62x39mm AK's than they did demonizing AR-15's. They argued that "assault weapons" are inherently inaccurate, "designed for spray firing from the hip", can't be used for target shooting, ad nauseaum. You're probably the first gun control advocate I've had discussions with who actually acknowledged that an AR is as accurate as a bolt-action, all else being equal. Most claim it's not accurate enough to be a target rifle, and are surprised to find it's the most popular target rifle in America.

Second, the AWB was all about posturing and "othering" of gun enthusiasts, not violence prevention or even banning guns. It didn't actually ban the AR-15 platform, or civilian AK's; it only banned 19 marketing names, not actual guns. It easily tripled AR-15 sales, leading to an explosion of new manufacturers in the late 1990s and early 2000s; the company that made mine (Rock River Arms) started making accurized civilian AR's in 1997. The only thing that changed after 2004 was that new Rock Rivers and such could finally have flash suppressors instead of muzzle brakes, and adjustable stocks could finally be sold without locking pins. The Feinstein law also exempted by name other .223 semiautos with the same capacity and rate of fire as the AR, and exempted AR's as long as they weren't named "Colt AR-15" and had a smooth muzzle or a pinned-on brake. It also allowed 30-round AR and AK magazines to be freely imported from all over the world, in the tens of millions. Later Federal proposals did indeed focus on bans, but the original AWB mostly affected pistol magazine prices, not rifles.

BTW, if you think accurate semiautos are ban-worthy, how do you feel about civilian AK-47 derivatives in 7.62x39mm, which shoot lowish-velocity .30-caliber rounds and are only as accurate as a lever-action? Or how about those civilian Uzis and TEC-9's?

"Rather than ask why assault weapons should be prohibited since they are not much used in crime, you should ask what overall benefit do they provide to override the potential mass damage they can produce, whether now or if in the future, they become more common."

They are *already* more common (they are the most common centerfire rifles in U.S. homes, and have been top of the market for going on a couple of decades now). Their "potential mass damage" is no more than any other semiauto civilian rifle using detachable magazines (like the .223 Ruger Mini-14, which Dianne Feinstein herself praised as a legit sporting rifle in '94).

As to what benefit they provide? The same benefits as any other small- and intermediate-caliber civilian rifles feeding from detachable magazines: Light recoil, low penetration (especially .223), less costly to shoot, better reserve capacity, and so on. And your own figures show they're the least misused of weapons, as do the FBI weapons stats.

"These type rifles were mostly designed for use in combat on battlefields where rapid fire & quick incapacitation & death were far more needed than when applied to civilian communities."

No non-automatic .223 is issued by any military on this planet, as far as I am aware, except for some police-type forces. Civilian AR's are widespread as police patrol rifles, but the entire raison d'etre of the scaled-down 5.56mm NATO for military use was to allow more accurate cyclic fire than .308/7.62mm, at the cost of some effective range in semiauto compared to .308. Likewise, the original military AK-47 was designed so that one rifle could replace both the PPSh submachinegun (in automatic mode) and the Mosin-Nagant rifle (in semiautomatic mode). In both cases, the ability to fire in cyclic mode, which a civilian rifle cannot do, is fundamental.

Also, how about those designed-for-combat-on-battlefields rifles that were explicitly created to kill human beings half a mile away?

Look familiar? Because that's the basis of a Winchester Model 70, via the Model 58 (yep, a sporterized Mauser).

Thing is, *all* common civilian rifle types are civilian derivatives of military designs, and in turn many military designs adopted features from civilian guns (look at a Remington Model 1908 and a Kalashnikov sometime, or how many U.S. military rifles and carbines now wear civilian-derived Aimpoint optics). What determines whether a rifle is civilian-legal or military/police-restricted is how it works, not how it looks. If it's under .51 caliber, non-automatic, is made difficult to convert to full auto, and has at least a 16" barrel and 26" overall length, it's a Title 1 civilian rifle. Period.

I'm familiar with those studies, and it again goes to show how rarely

modern-looking rifles are misused (or rifles and shotguns of any type, for that matter). I ran the numbers some years ago in a discussion with Iverglas, and rifles were used in 0.6% of violent crimes, 6.5% of gun crimes, and 3% of homicides, with some small fluctuation from year to year. Rifles are the least misused of all weapons in this country.

Even the gun control lobby used to acknowledge how rarely long guns are misused. Pete Shields himself (head of what is now the Brady Campaign from 1978 to 1989, and more extreme than Sarah Brady who replaced him) stated:

"(O)ur organization, Handgun Control, Inc. does not propose further controls on rifles and shotguns. Rifles and shotguns are not the problem; they are not concealable."

At the time he said that, rifles and shotguns probably accounted for twice as many homicides per capita than they do now, FWIW.

Wow, the prohibitionists are really reaching today.

We need to ban plastic replica guns now, because they are so dangerous?

The fact that Baltimore and Syracuse have seen *their* gun homicide rates skyrocket,

after enacting extremely punitive gun restrictions aimed at gun enthusiasts, seems to undermine your hypothesis a bit.

As I recall, the Swiss can also buy handguns and "assault weapons" for personal use

unconnected with militia service. Only full autos are restricted to active/reserve military, though less tightly controlled than here (a Swiss citizen's military weapon can IIRC be converted to a semiauto civilian weapon upon retirement, and purchased).

Of course, the low Swiss homicide rate hasn't stopped the Swiss gun-control lobby from trying to ban more guns, anymore than it has in Australia (already banned pump-actions, now looking at banning lever-actions) and the UK.

In Bloomberg's own words:

But if he senses that he may not have as much time left as he would like, he has little doubt about what would await him at a Judgment Day. Pointing to his work on gun safety, obesity and smoking cessation, he said with a grin: "I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven Iím not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. Itís not even close."


I equate the right to *choose* gun ownership, or not, with freedom...

just as I equate choice to speak out on political issues with freedom, or choice in literature or the arts, or choice to decline entrance to my home unless the visitor has a warrant, or choice regarding the practice of religion or lack thereof. Individual choice in those domains was considered important enough post-Enlightenment for them to be listed in our Bill of Rights, as a precondition for the foundation of our current system of government.

If I as a responsible, mentally competent adult with a good record am forced to live by someone else's opinions regarding gun ownership, or religion, or literature, or reproductive choice, then my freedom is indeed diminished, and I do not see how one can logically argue otherwise. There are those who argue that all of those freedoms should be sharply abridged for various reasons (public morality, public safety, social cohesion, whatever), but one cannot pretend that such abridgements don't diminish freedom.

One is also on very firm statistical ground to say that for a responsible, mentally competent adult who is not involved or associated with criminal activity and who is not at high risk for suicide, ownership of a gun and competence with same does indeed provide a net safety benefit. That has nothing to do with the *number* of guns one owns, though, as one can only wield a single gun at a time. With a good handgun for accessibility and a good long gun for defense-in-place, it'd be hard to argue that additional guns offer much extra capability, other than specialization for certain niches.

Hunting guns tend to be more specialized, though, as are a few target disciplines (e.g., you can shoot your all-around carbine in 3-gun or USPSA and do well, but you won't win an F-class match with something not optimized to the hilt for long range work, and you won't win an Olympic free pistol match with an off-the-shelf .22).

Yep. 20-round magazine, and power similar to a modern .45 ACP.

Very similar to a large-caliber modern precharged hunting airgun, which have capabilities similar to blackpowder firearms except for more rapid fire (in the repeating versions). It surprises me that the metallurgy of the late 1700's was good enough to create a high-pressure cylinder that good.

The posters were arguing for bans, not background checks.

Specifically, both argued that the .223 Remington cartridge itself has no legitimate civilian use, therefore AR-15's in .223 have no legitimate civilian use. They were arguing against the cartridge, not the platform.

One argued that .223's are shockingly powerful compared to other civilian rifles and should be banned (if you shot a deer with one, it would ruin the meat because it is ostensibly so much more powerful than deer rifle cartridges are).


Response: http://www.democraticunderground.com/?com=view_post&forum=1172&pid=170334

The other poster argued the opposite, that .223's bullet mass and energy are so low that the cartridge is ostensibly useless for varmint hunting or target shooting, yet somehow vastly overpenetrative in the defensive role; therefore the .223 cartridge is useful only for mass murder at close range.


Response is the OP of this thread.

My own AR isn't set up for zapping crows, as it's set up as a jack-of-all-trades carbine (2-6x scope, match trigger, and Wilson heavyish 1 : 9 barrel, but with a 5.56mm spec chamber and chrome lining for max reliability, and a 16 inch barrel length for handiness indoors as well). Rock River guaranteed it'd shoot 1 MOA out of the box, as I recall.

The thing is, though, it is entirely feasible to set up an AR for 1/4 MOA crow zapping, or Palma/F-class benchrest, and many people do because that's what floats their boat.

As to universal background checks, I'm not opposed in principle, as long as registration is impossible, the list of prohibited persons is limited to violent criminals and the mentally incompetent, they are inexpensive and convenient, and they don't apply to legit temporary "transfers" that don't involve change of ownership. However, most implementations being pushed recently seem to be heavily registration oriented (4473 focused rather than background check focused), seek to criminalize a lot of legitimate transfers, and seem purposely inconvenient and costly. I also notice they are mostly being pushed by people who support banning popular guns and magazines, so the registration angle is especially problematic from that standpoint, IMO.

Except you're fighting to ban many of the *least* powerful and *least* misused.

Rifle bans in particular are not aimed at violence reduction whatsoever, since all rifles combined account for fewer than 3% of U.S. homicides, less than half as many as shoes and bare hands.

Rifle bans are aimed at "othering" gun enthusiasts, not fighting violence.
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