Sunday, December 30, 2012

Why Not Ban Assault Rifles?

Why not? What does it matter? After all, the assault rifle is a rather ineffective tool. Applying science and logic, there are better choices for most every situation a firearm is called for.

Hunting - For hunting, the purpose of the firearm is to achieve a quick, clean kill, with a single shot. Multiple bullets means unnecessary pain and suffering for the animal and damage to the meat. The ideal hunting weapon has very good accuracy to a reasonably large distance, with a bullet which will make a small entry hole, causing as little damage as possible to the external tissue (meat). The bullet should then expand internally, doing as much damage as possible to internal organs (specifically heart and lungs), to ensure a very quick death. Assault rifles don't have good long range accuracy, as a general rule, there is no need for an automatic, or even a semiautomatic rate of fire, as the kill should occur with a single well placed shot. Most of the best hunting rifles are bolt-action, like the Kimber model 84m or the Ruger M77RSI International.

Home Defense - An assault rifle is a horrible choice for home defense. Consider the situation; tight quarters, short distances, low response time, neighbors. Most assault rifles are too long, awkward and clumsy to be used effectively in a close quarters, in-door situation. You'll be bumping the barrel into walls and furniture. And when you do find your target, you will have less than a second to bring the  weapon to bear, and fire. Even with automatic fire, you are only like to get a few rounds off. Probability of you being able to place a lethal, or stopping round is quite low. And the rounds that miss are going to penetrate your walls and enter the neighborhood, where they have the potential to maim or kill innocents. For home defense, the best choice is a short barrel shotgun, like a Mossberg 590A1 or the Benelli M4 (yes, there is a Civilian model). With a shotgun, you don't have to be especially accurate, as you will have a spreading pattern of balls striking in the vicinity of where you aim. You have a great deal of "stopping power", and the shot will generally not penetrate your walls, keeping the lethal force contained in your home.

Mugging//Car-Jacking/Street violence -  It is pretty hard to hide an assault rifle. If a criminal wants to do you harm, and they see you packing an AR-15   (the link will take you to an editorial note explaining the change) M-16, they will just shoot you from behind. Assuming you have an MP5, or something else small enough to potentially conceal. You aren't going to be able to retrieve it fast enough to do you any good. In this situation you need something small, light and concealable. This is the situation for a hand-gun, even an itty -bitty .22 pistol can be an effective weapon in such close quarters.

Apocalypse - Suppose the country falls apart and it is every man for himself. Surely this is where the assault rifle shines, right? Wrong. Fact is you and your assault rifle will be one of the first to go. Governments tend to resist apocalyptic events, those with sufficient money and power will still have access to trained soldiers, which they will use to ensure their survival. They will have more men than you, and more bullets than you. They might drop you with a sniper round the first time they see you and your assault weapon in the open. They might approach you in a group in which case you might be lucky enough to get one or two of them before they drop you. They might just start a firefight, and let you use up your ammunition. For the apocalypse, you are going to want a good hunting/sniper rifle, and something concealable for the surprise value in a situation you can't otherwise escape. Given limited supply of ammunition, you definitely don't want anything automatic. 

Governmental Defense - What if it is necessary to take arms against your own government? To restore liberty? Such a scenario is not unrealistic. It has happened before. It is happening now, in fact, in other parts of the world. Would an assault rifle be a good choice then? Again, supply of ammunition needs to be considered. If the military stands with the newly self-appointed dictators, they are going to have an unlimited supply of ammunition, and you are not. The simple reality is that the assault weapon is more about intimidation. You hurl an ungodly amount of metal at your opponent to break his will. Maybe you will get lucky and have a round or two strike home. More likely you will keep him pinned down until you can get a sniper in place to execute a one-shot kill. In every situation, there is a specific firearm more suited to the task at hand.

Zombie Apocalypse - Okay, you might have a case there....

The assault rifle is to guns what the Lamborghini is to cars. It is sexy, noisy,  expensive, goes like mad, makes you feel "manly", and ultimately is terribly inefficient and ineffective.

So why not just go with a ban? Why fight it? Why not just capitulate and make everybody happy?

What defines an "assault weapon"? The word "Assault" in the name is not a valid metric.

You  need a practical measurement in order to effectively ban it. The ultimate goal is to prevent loss of life, right? So how do you achieve that? What, based on that objective defines an assault weapon.

Is it an assault weapon because it is automatic? semi-automatic? Have you ever seen Jerry Miculek speed shooting with a revolver?

What about magazine size? Is the threshold 30 rounds? What happens when everybody starts making 29 round magazines? 28 Round magazines? Do you know how long it takes to switch out a magazine?  Do you know how fast you can reload a revolver?

How do you design a standard for identifying and banning assault rifles, which will not run the risk of infringing on basic 2nd amendment rights? How do you ensure that responsible Americans can still defend their homes, families and lives against the unjust or the tyrannical, should the need arise?

If it is loss of life you are truly concerned about? Wouldn't it be better to start by banning alcohol, which accounts for nearly 3 times as many deaths annually? Oh, we tried that once, didn't we? WE still regulate it, yet it present a much higher body count. Why will banning assault weapons be different?

I will admit, when I listen to the pro-gun nuts talking, I begin to think a firearms ban would be a good idea, All that white-trash, red-neck, semi-literate, belligerent, chest thumping makes me nervous. On the other hand, they aren't the ones making the news for shooting people, are they?

In short, banning assault weapons will most likely be a high cost solution, with a relatively low gain. It would be much wiser to invest those resources in other ways, like encouraging and rewarding solid, nuclear families, good educators, and effective peer support programs, positive media,... things which can have a real, long-lasting impact on the way we think, and therefore act. And, banning assault weapons, even though it may seem to serve the greater good, is a dangerous step toward losing fundamental freedoms essential to the evolution of the human experience.

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive."
        -C.S. Lewis


    Assault rifles were banned back in 1986
    the AR-15 is single shot per pull of the trigger, there is no multiple shot.

    1. @Lilhen- You are correct. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic, civilian version of the M-16. Some still consider it an assault weapon. (one of the points I attempted to address was the question of how to designate a weapon an "assault weapon"). I listed it due to it being a reasonably well known, civilian firearm, and considered by many to be one which should be banned. (

      Thanks for your comment.