“I think a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals,” he said.
“I believe the majority of gun owners agree we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons,” the president said. “That we should check out a person’s criminal record before they can check out at a gun store. That a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily.”
Actually, I think Barack may be wrong on this point – about how the majority of gun owners feel about AK47s belonging in the hands of soldiers. I’m not sure, but I think the majority of gun owners probably side with the NRA’s position that ANY law restricting gun rights is an infringement of liberty. This wouldn’t include ALL gun owners, of course, but I do believe it may well apply to the majority of them.
On the other side of the coin, the vast majority of gun owners don’t own assault rifles. Gun ownership in the US is probably (I’m guessing) focused around handguns for home defense, and hunting rifles for sport. There are also plenty of black-powder enthusiasts, and the ubiquitous small caliber varmint rifles used by farmers to eliminate pests. Those that do own assault rifles (the vast majority of which are completely legal) do so for two reasons. First, they’re fun to shoot, and a certain number of individuals who own them have them strictly because of this. Second, they’re excellent for defense in case the world falls into chaos – you know – the Mayan apocalypse, a nuclear war, an asteroid impact, something that would tear the world apart. These owners are the same people that have fallout shelters, emergency procedures, stockpiles of food and weapons – survivalists. And there’s nothing wrong with that! (So long as their weapons don’t fall into the wrong hands, or they don’t go insane).
Personally, I’d love to own an assault rifle. I carried a variety of them for years during my time in the USMC. I always enjoyed firing them. They are, in short, a lot of fun. For a gun owner, having an assault rifle is similar to a car enthusiast having a sports car. Sure, the Honda will get you there, but a Corvette will get you there in style. But I don’t own an assault rifle for the same reason I don’t own a sports car – they are simply too expensive, and I have other priorities to consider. (Like a mortgage, my children’s college fund, my retirement, etc). Now if an asteroid hits the earth, or I somehow manage to survive a nuclear war, I may regret that. But when you have limited resources, you have to plan for what you THINK is going to happen, and those other things are far more unlikely to me than my retirement or my kids going to college. (I hope)!
The main problem with assault rifles is the amount of damage they can do. They’re made to kill people, and they fire ammunition for that purpose. So what is an “assault rifle?”
In general, the AWB defined any firearm with a detachable magazine and at least two of certain other characteristics as an assault weapon.
For rifles, those characteristics included:
- Telescoping stock
- Pistol grip
- Bayonet mount
- Grenade launcher
- Flash suppressor
- Telescoping stock
- Pistol grip
- A capacity to hold more than five rounds
- Threaded barrels made to attach a barrel extender, handgrip or flash suppressor
- A barrel shroud that can be used as a handhold
- Weight of at least 50 oz. when unloaded
Nineteen models of firearms were specifically named in the legislation as assault weapons, while other models were included under the umbrella of the law’s definition of assault weapons.
In short, you can easily see why banning assault weapons would be a problem for many gun enthusiasts. These are not automatic rifles (civilian ownership of automatic weapons has been heavily regulated in the U.S. since 1934) You can still own and obtain an automatic rifle, but by law you have to obtain a “gun dealer” license, and you and your weapon will be tracked by government records. Do we track owners of other weapons? Yes, but I suspect nowhere near as stringently. I believe it’s the state that handles this, and probably varies by state. It also depends on how you obtain one – buying it from a store is different than buying it from another individual (a fact that is often used to side-step registration).
Semi-automatic assault rifles fire only one round at a time (albeit as fast as you can pull the trigger). From my perspective, semi-automatics are preferable, simply because automatics waste a huge amount of ammunition and are hard to target due to recoil. But then I’ve had “one-shot one-kill” crammed down my throat in training. (I was an exceptional marksman during my time in the military, and the third best shot in my platoon). Now I don’t even own a handgun, let alone an assault rifle, but I digress.
Personally, I have no problem with legislation tightening gun laws. I don’t necessarily agree with making these weapons illegal. But I fully agree with making them difficult to obtain, and requiring both training and tests to get a license to own one. They should be tracked. People who own them should appear in government databases. We should KNOW who owns these weapons – that should be the cost of having the privilege of owning them. Gun ownership should be a right, but not one given to just everyone. It should be a right conditional to responsibility. Convicts and felons should not have the right to own them. Individuals with a history of mental issues should not have the right to own them. Anyone who does own them should have to submit to a background check. They should not be sold out of stores right off the rack to anyone who wants one. This should be true of all weapons. We make people take a driver’s test to obtain a driver’s license. We don’t do anything to those buying a gun. Both objects are just as lethal. Where is the logic in this?