Seems everybody is talking about guns nowadays. I guess it was only a matter of time before I felt the need to offer a word or two of my own. I've resisted so far because there is nothing that I would say that isn't already being said on another blog somewhere else, and my point of view on gun rights is already well known to anybody who knows me.
That said, there are a few things that still annoy me about this debate that center mostly around what are being called 'Assault Rifles'.
First off, Assault Rifles do have an official government definition: They are military rifles with select-fire or full-automatic capability.
Anything that fits this criteria has been effectively outlawed since the 1920's for private use.
What is being called an Assault Rifle in the media coverage are civilian versions of the military rifles. The do not fire automatically. The do not have select-fire, either. These are semi-automatic rifles, only firing a single round with every trigger squeeze; mechanically not different than many hunting and sporting rifles. They do happen to carry large-capacity, detachable magazines, though.
Another annoyance of mine: adding the descriptor 'High Powered' to the misnomer 'Assault Rifle'.
Military-grade rifles are not high powered. They are medium powered. A high-powered assault rifle would be too heavy to be of much practical use anywhere, difficult to carry, it's recoil physically punishing to the shooter, and accuracy would be unreliable if used in a rapid fire manner.
OK, now that you understand that, you need to understand what these weapons are best suited for: Tactical situations.
In military combat, the vast, vast majority of bullets fired with an M-16 or AK-47 are not aimed at anybody.
The tactic is to throw a hail of lead in the direction of the enemy, known as 'cover fire', holding him back or causing him to hunker down and not poke his head up while you maneuver troops into position to launch the real attack.
(I've read somewhere that the US armed forces have fired 250,000 rounds in the Afghanistan conflict for every enemy that was actually killed. I do not know how accurate this is, but it would not surprise me.)
Also, these bullets do kill if they hit the target in the right place, but the lighter caliber, non-expanding bullets have a greater tendency to wound and maim (instead of kill) than previous generations of combat arms that relied on heavier loads like the 30-06.
There are reasons for that, too: killing the enemy combatant take him out of the fight. Wounding him takes him, and two of his buddies out of the fight because they have to drag him out of the way, treat him, etc... not to mention it's more difficult to keep your head in the battle when your wounded comrade is screaming out in pain right next to you.
But nobody needs one of these rifles, right? They are not practical for civilian use, they are just killing machines, right?
Forget that scenario of warrior patriots standing up to defend their freedom from military forces. I'm not going there here.
Instead, I can tell you what happened in Los Angeles during the riots 20 years ago. The rioting quickly spread, so fast, so far, so violent, so out of control, that vast swaths of a very large city were abandoned by all forces who's job was to provide law, order and protection to the citizens.
No police would help you.
There were not any.
This was the real life situation for days.
My neighborhood where I grew up, where my mom, brother and sister were still living was going up in flames. Many of the stores that I used to walk to as a kid were being looted and torched.
Citizens were exchanging gunfire with thugs.
It was crazy ass shit where there was no law, no protection, no cops to defend you.
>>> This photo was taken just three miles down the road from where I grew up just off of Vermont Ave., about two blocks from my best friend's house where I spent large portions of my junior high years.
The livelihood of every shop owner or businessman was absolutely at stake. Those that had civilian version military rifles had an edge against the hordes of thugs.
A shop owner could stand before his business (usually on the roof) and when the looters arrived let loose with a quick flurry of shots. BangBangBangBangBangBang into the air was an intimidating way of saying: You do NOT want to fuck around here!
The looters would move on to another target of safer opportunity.
Now, try that with a bolt-action hunting rifle: You can't do it. Two seconds in between 'bangs' does not have the same effect. That, and the gangs know that you don't have as much juice to spread around, they can take you, and they will try...
In response, the bolt-action guy has two choices:
Run, and abandon his livelihood, maybe the business he spent decades growing.
Or get real, and fight for what is his by right. This would require careful aim and dead bodies in the street, further pissing off the gang. Before the battle ended, the blood would be flowing, the honest citizen dead, and one more city block lost to lawlessness.
<<< Korean store owners taking a stand during the riots.
Many shop owners died defending their shops during the riots. All of them that I am aware of were outgunned, being armed with pistols, shotguns or hunting rifles. I did not read one report where a man armed with a modern military-style rifle lost his life.
Military-style semi-automatic rifles do have a real and legitimate place in a civilized, law abiding society.
Even more so when that society becomes less civilized, as it sometimes does, and those sworn to protect and serve are no where to be found.