Over the years, the United States citizens have been torn over the subject of gun control. Much of the confusion within this topic results from a lack of education pertaining to firearms. Within deliberation of accurate information comes positive reformation. Therefore, American citizens and legislation must be thoroughly informed in the complex subject of firearms.
Classifications of Firearms
The most basic classification of firearms is the machine gun classification. A machine gun is any fully-automatic weapon that may be either portable or mounted. Machine guns were outlawed in 1986, which made the sale or transfer of such firearms illegal under federal law.
Machine guns are then organized further as submachine guns, battle rifles, assault rifles, autocannons, automatic shotguns, and confusingly enough, assault weapons.
Assault rifles are classified as firearms capable of selective fire, utilizing an intermediate cartridge with a detachable magazine operating at an effective range of at least 110 feet. An intermediate cartridge is a bullet casing less powerful than battle rifle cartridges while a detachable magazine is an ammunition storage system and feeding apparatus attached to the rifle. Any firearm that fails to meet these requirements will not qualify as an assault rifle.
Differences Between Assault Weapons and Assault Rifles & Federal Assault Weapons Ban
The classification of Assault Weapons was created by legislation to expand the category of assault rifles. Assault weapons are classified as semi-automatic, rifle-style firearms that incorporate weapon modifications commonly affiliated militaristic weaponry. Assault weapons are required to accept a detachable magazine, and two of the following: a pistol grip beneath the weapon’s action, bayonet mount, folding/telescoping stock, suppressor/ suppressor capability, or a grenade launcher.
Assault rifles are authorized for military-use only. On September 13th, 1994, President Bill Clinton enacted the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. The bill was signed into action with the purpose to prohibit the manufacturing and civilian transfer, possession, and use of assault weapons, to expire in 10 years.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), stubbornly opposed the ban, reasoning, “Assault weapons are used in only one percent of all crimes,” which was then proven to be true by the 1999 crime statistics resourced by the Department of Justice. Further, the ban punished the transfer of possession of large capacity ammunition feeding devices. In the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, large capacity ammunition feeding devices are defined as, “any magazine, belt, drum, feed strip, or similar device manufactured after [September 13, 1994] that has the capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than ten rounds of ammunition,” this creates frustration in gun owners because most magazines carry more than 10 rounds. However, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban utilized a grandfather clause which allowed the possession or transfer of weapons, or ammunition, that was possessed lawfully before September 13, 1994. As a result of the grandfather clause, the same amount of weapons remained on our streets in the hands of others, capable of abuse.
The AR-15 “assault weapon” lacks the capability of selective fire. This forces the rifle to shoot semi-automatically, that is, one bullet per pull of the trigger. This fact alone proves the AR-15’s fire rate to be much lower than the M4A1 assault rifle, which is fully automatic and fires much faster than the AR-15’s maximum of 45 fired bullets per minute. David Kopel, a writer for The Wallstreet Journal expresses, “What some people call ‘assault weapons’ function like every other normal firearm- they fire only one bullet each time the trigger is pressed… Some of these guns look like machine guns, but they do not function like machine guns.” Here, Kopel asserts that firearms like the AR-15 function just as normally as a standard hunting rifle does. These firearms lack the capability to cause the havoc an assault rifle is capable of.
Assault weapons operate identically to all other firearms, such as a hunting rifle, shotgun, ranch guns, even pistols. However, it is the startling appearance of these firearms that affect the perceptions of the uneducated. For this reason, large publics within our social sphere insight a stigma around the object. According to a report released in 1998 by the Violence Policy Center, “The weapon’s menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons- anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun- this can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” A fair portion of our society lacks in-depth knowledge towards the subject of firearms. These individuals can not recognize the difference between a “menacing” AR-15 and any machine gun.
Assault Weapons do not differ in any way from their semiautomatic counterparts. Aesthetically, these weapons are very intimidating, especially when compared to other firearms on the market. However, this does not mean they function differently. Any pistol holds almost the same capability for destruction that any assault weapon has. To claim assault weapons are just as dangerous as assault rifles is an illogical assertion.
In 1989, suspect Patrick Purdy entered the Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton California and proceeded to fire 106 rounds from his AR-15 in 180 seconds, wounding 32 and leaving 5 children dead. Following, Purdy took his own life with a handgun. In comparison, assault rifles hold the ability to fire 300-1800 bullets in one minute. Clearly, the situation could have been seriously worsened had the firearm been a fully automatic assault rifle. Theoretically, the entire situation could be avoided completely if both categories of guns were criminalized. However, this argument serves to analyze the major differences between the two classifications, rather than question the legality of the firearms.
It is often forgotten that official legislation of a law does not hinder one’s ability to commit a crime. The law allows governmental consequence if the individual is caught committing the crime and is later found guilty in a court of law. A perfect example to illustrate this point is the enactment of the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs was enacted by the Nixon administration and it ultimately focused on ending addiction by prohibiting the manufacturing, use, and distribution of illegal narcotics. As a result of this prohibition, 48.6 percent of all incarcerated inmates are serving time for drug-related offenses, addiction rates are at an all-time high, and crime rates rose perilously. As a result, our nation is now the global leader in the amount of incarcerated inmates. Although we had legislative policies designed to end the use of drugs, a large portion of society chose to do them. Applying this logic to the topic of gun control would cause American families to forfeit their natural right of self defense, ultimately resulting vulnerable targets. It seems counterintuitive that a plan geared towards an anti-violence movement could have the capability for such terroristic acts.
Terroristic threats are a credible fear and a real possibility, contrary to popular belief.
Right now, the Mexican Drug Cartel operates on large portions of the Mexican border. The cartel has littered our borders with underground tunnels, used as pathways for smuggling unregistered weapons and narcotics across our borders. Currently, the border that is shared between America and Mexico is not secure enough for such revolutionary regulation. The cartel forwards a constant flow of machine guns, pistols, assault rifles, and even grenades into our country. All of which, are untraceable- unable to be routed back to the original owner. If there were a nationwide-gun sweep that could theoretically eliminate all guns from our streets, these illegal weapons will still flood into our neighborhoods. As a result, criminals will be equipped with their firearms, while law-abiding citizens have no leg to stand on.
Further, studies have found that Americans use guns 1.3 million times annually to protect themselves from an intruder, rapist, or mugger. Without defensive firearms, there would have been roughly 1.3 million extra fatalities each year. Also, the possession of a firearm in a house can give the family a feeling of excess security. The situation is comparable to life insurance, as it serves as a social benefit even if the owner of the policy does not die. The family still has the overall feeling of safety.
Problems Arising From Gun Regulation
In order for gun control to be deemed a possibility, our government would be required to enact a nation-wide firearm collection program, attempting to remove all guns from all American houses. This expectation is ridiculous upon realization that there are over 300 million guns belonging to over 324 million gun-toting citizens. Some of which live in desolate, urban areas, out-of-reach and out-of-mind for our government to collect from. Further, the assumption that our 1.1 million law enforcement officers would be able to eradicate such a large amount of firearms within such a large, diverse land is an unreasonable expectation. In the unlikely scenario this nation-wide collection was imposed, the ritual would leave many guns behind; a danger for the defenseless families.
The stripping of firearms from American families would leave weapons in the hands of only two type of people: law enforcement and criminals. Whilst in possession of their illegally-obtained firearm, criminals will continue to commit their crimes against society. As the crime is being carried out, all individuals incorporated in the situation are unable to defend themselves. Law enforcement officers, the victim’s only form of defense, will then take an average of 7 minutes to arrive at the scene of the crime. Many dark events could take place within these 7 dire minutes. Especially upon realization that a fully automatic machine gun could fire up to 12,600 rounds within that timeframe. This is a perfectly reasonable situation that could become a reality following gun regulation.
The nullification of our second amendment cannot be warranted if there are actual uses for a firearm in a civil society.
For reasons regarding the survival of Alaskan families, the topic of gun control becomes an ethical dilemma. Most Alaskan citizens are gun owners who utilize their firearms for food and defense. Alaska is a largely untouched area of land, as a result, it is of great trouble to navigate, poses many dangers, and lacks a food commonplace. This means that Alaskans are subject to danger that the average American is privileged enough to never encounter, and these families must hunt and prepare their own food for survival. Without their firearms, the family will starve to death. To seize these family’s right to a gun when they have no other option for food is inhumane. Hypothetically, if gun regulation included a clause allowing the use of firearms within Alaskan families, this would open up buying locations for criminals to then transport their guns across the country.
According to philosopher, John Locke, no individual requires a democratic constitution to grant them the right to defend themselves or their families. This has been granted a natural right, as it is a right given to us by nature.
Lastly, our founding fathers granted us the second amendment not with self-defense or food in mind, but to protect our right to political dissent. The United States of America was originated by an American Revolution in which the citizens of the original 13 colonies formed a militia and fought against their tyrannical government to eventually form the advanced society of today. The original writers of the constitution wanted the American citizens to hold the same right to overthrow the United State’s tyrannical government if the situation ever arises. To give up the right to political dissent is to repeat history.
“Assault Weapon Truth: The Facts about Assault Weapons.” Assaultweapontruth. Assault Weapon Truth, n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2016. <http://www.assaultweapontruth.com>.
Lott, John R., Jr. More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws. Chicago, and London: U of Chicago, 2010. Print.
Lott, John R., Jr. The Bias Against Guns: Why Almost Everything You’ve Heard About Gun Control Is Wrong. Washington DC: Regnery, 2003. Print.
Jacobs, James B. “The Value of Firearms.” Can Gun Control Work? Oxford: Oxford U, 2002. 14-16. Print.