Gun Control Debate: A Short Lesson

With the two most recent mass shootings in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT which include the deaths of 20 young children, the gun control debate has taken center screen for the president and others, on both sides of the aisle.  However, it has become evident through many debates, speeches, and articles, that many who are advocating for more laws and bans on guns are lacking in factual knowledge about the very things they are fighting about.  It is because of this, that a short lesson in factual information regarding weapons, ammunition, and the law seem to be in order.

To start this lesson, let us discuss the differences in the types of weapons being used as examples in debates and speeches.  The most popularly referenced weapon is the assault rifle.  The definition of an assault rifle varies dependent upon the speaker.  The most popular definition by increased gun control advocates is: a weapon that can hold high capacity magazines, is shoulder fired, and can fire a large amount of rounds in a short period of time.  Unfortunately, this definition describes most weapons and is not isolated to the shoulder fired AR-15.  The fact is that most guns hold more than 10 rounds in a magazine or clip and have similar rates of fire.  The only major difference between the “assault rifle” and, let’s say… a .22 rifle, owned by many for home protection, sport, and small game hunting, is the look.  

  • The AR-15 “assault rifle” looks almost identical to the military issued M-4.  The AR-15 fires semi-automatically (one round exits with each depression of the trigger) as opposed to the M-4’s ability to fire semi-auto or 3-round burst(3 rounds exit in rapid succession with each depression of the trigger).  
  • The .22 rifle also holds more than 10 rounds fed via various methods such as a small tube along the barrel or inserted clips.  The .22 rifle also fires semi-automatically at a rate of fire very close to the AR-15.  

This comparison holds true for most rifles and handguns, yet the advocates for an “assault weapons” ban refuse to acknowledge these facts.  They insist that the AR-15 should be banned because it’s sole purpose for existence is to kill many people quickly.  This argument could be made for any gun but the only one being debated is the military styled assault weapon.  Banning a weapon based solely on the uninformed view of it’s purpose or appearance proves ignorance related to weapons and the knee-jerk reaction apparent only after the Newtown shooting.

It could be argued that a semi-automatic shotgun would seem scarier to some than an AR-15.  Shotguns have a larger spread (area of impact), require little ability or requirement to aim, and are almost guaranteed to stop the target with one shot.  A handgun is also a pretty “scary” weapon with it’s ability to be concealed in a waistband, a purse, coat pocket, etc. It can be pulled out and used very quickly without much time for reaction from the intended target.  Handguns also have a quick rate of fire and hold many rounds in various clip sizes.  Still, assault weapons are the only guns being proposed for the weapons ban.  Image

For those super uninformed gun control proponents, we must delve further into the seemingly obvious definitions of magazines versus ammunition.  Recently, Colorado State Representative Diane DeGette(D) touted that magazines are bullets and that once they are fired, they’re gone (around the 2:50 mark she loses all brain function).  Unfortunately, her ignorance is more widespread than previously thought.  The only ones to point out the obviously inaccurate definition of a magazine are the people who oppose the new gun control proposals.  No one from Rep. DeGette’s side of the debate seems to have caught the shocking lack of knowledge from one of their own.  Let us help Rep. DeGette out on this subject.  A magazine holds the “bullets” that are being fired from the weapon.  The magazine feeds the ammunition to the firing mechanism located inside of the gun.  Once the “bullets” are all gone, the magazine can be reloaded with more “bullets” and used again and again.  The magazine does not require the user to load it to it’s maximum capacity to use.  FYI, Rep. DeGette, you are not proposing a ban on “bullets” (commonly referred to as ’rounds’ by those who are educated in the use of guns), and therefore will not lessen the use of the large capacity magazines in any way through the ban.  The magazines can last for decades if maintained correctly.

Lastly, let us touch on the subject of the current laws in place for most guns.  Currently, there are few bans on any one type of gun.  Fully-automatic weapons (which President Obama thinks was used in Newtown…Wrong) are currently the most highly regulated type of gun.  One may own a fully-automatic gun after jumping through hoops with licences, classes, etc.  Semi-automatic weapons are the most common type of weapon owned by U.S. citizens.  The semi-automatic label can apply to handguns, rifles, and shotguns of all sizes and shapes.  Currently, all weapons require a background check if purchased in-store. The background check admittedly has flaws due to the lack of legal requirement through person-to-person and gun show sales.  However, the use of background check prior to purchasing a gun only stops those who are attempting to purchase a gun legally.  Additionally, the current system is not being enforced to it’s fullest.  Thousands of people apply for and are denied the purchase of a gun after a failed background check.  Only a very small percentage of those applications are actually reviewed for possible criminality.  It would behoove the government to review the process of background checks and seek to enforce the laws already on the books before attempting to enact new legislation.  It has been a common argument that only the law abiding will be affected by these new laws because criminals, by definition, break the laws.  Crimes are committed by criminals, period.

This concludes the lesson in guns for the low-information gun control advocates.  Please look into attending one of the many classes being offered by responsible organizations such as the National Rifle Association for more in-depth education on those evil things you want to wipe from existence.



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