Must we oppose any restrictions on the firepower of semiautomatic rifles, cont.

Below is a continuation of the big thread on gun control. After I had indicated on Friday evening that I thought it was time for the thread to wind down, more comments came in, totaling 8,000 words. I have cleaned them up as far as spelling, embedding hyperlinks, etc., are concerned, but, contrary to my usual practice, I have not read or edited them. So the below is something unheard-of at VFR: a totally unmoderated, unedited comments thread.

JC in Houston writes:

I’ve noticed rhetorical question being asked as to why we do not permit citizens to own real assault weapons or machine guns. Actually it is legally possible for a private citizen to own a machine gun. The National Firearms Act of 1934 allows citizens to own certain weapons like short barreled shotguns, mortars, grenade launchers (although obtaining the grenades themselves is almost next to impossible) and machine guns. One finds a weapon that is already registered in the National Firearms Act registry and submits an application for transfer with a set of the buyer’s fingerprints, a $200 transfer tax payment and a certification by a chief law enforcement officer of the area in which the buyer resides to the effect that he has no information that the transferee will use the weapon unlawfully. That is then submitted to the BATF and if all is in order the transfer to the buyer will be approved. As for machine guns one is limited to those that were legally registered with the NFA registry prior to May 20, 1986. That cutoff date was the result of some liberal legislative chicanery. In 1986 NRA had proposed the Firearm Owners Protection Act to eliminate certain BATF abuses. Machine guns had nowhere been mentioned in the original bill since at that time there was no record of any of the 100,000 legal civilian machine guns ever being used in a crime. On the evening of the last day of debate in the House, liberal Democrat William Hughes of New Jersey proposed an amendment banning the possession of new machine guns by civilians after the effective date of the act. This was intended as “poisoned pill” to kill the whole bill, which had bipartisan support. In literally the closing seconds before debate on the bill ceased, the presiding officer, none other than Charles Rangel, called for a voice vote on Hughes’ amendment. Observers in the House chamber remarked that the Hughes Amendment seemed to fail, but Rangel declared “the ayes have it” and then went on to ignore members who had risen to demand a recorded vote and gaveled the Hughes Amendment as passed. NRA did not contest it when it went to conference in the Senate because of the time and effort they had devoted to passing the original bill. Interestingly enough, in the time period between the House vote and the effective date of the Act, manufacturers working day and night managed to make and register another 100,000 legal machine guns. The laws of supply and demand being what they are, a legal M-16 rifle that sold new for $600 in 1985 will now cost in the neighborhood of $15,000.

Paul T. writes:

I appreciate that you want to wind down this thread, but I don’t think anyone has made the following points yet. 1. Wars are won not only on the basis of firepower, but through the intelligent (and lucky) use of a broad range of assets including communications, transportation, radar, etc. In any contest between the U.S. government and individual gun owners, however well armed, the government will prevail. 2. This is particularly so given the rugged individualism of many gun enthusiasts. There’s no evidence that they will ever form an effective militia; rather they will wait in their homes like the fellow at Ruby Ridge whose name escapes me, until the government shows up and steamrolls them. 3. The outcomes in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan do not prove otherwise. The insurgents in Vietnam depended on logistical support from the North Vietnamese state, while those in Iraq and Afghanistan faced enemies who, in the final analysis, had the option of packing up and going home. The people who make up the U.S. government are already home, and will not abandon the battle. 4. Just try to imagine Stalin surrendering to any popular uprising. By the time Americans are ready to rise up, the liberal state may have become a nascent Stalinist entity—though it will probably be much more sophisticated than Stalinist Russia ever was, and for that reason may be able to depend less on overt displays of force to maintain its control.

I only want to add how deeply impressed I am by the extremely high level of the discourse on this thread. You have certainly succeeded in forming an “intellectual militia” of matchless quality and high seriousness. It’s a magnificent achievement.

M. Jose writes:

Very few people answered this part of your question:

I also would like them to explain why they oppose mandatory background checks in private, one-on-one firearms sales.

I think the major concern is that making every gun subject to a background check provides the government a way to track every gun, which would make confiscation much easier. In many countries, registration was the first step to confiscation.

Mark P. writes:

I have much to say on this subject but I would like to address the point you made. To quote:

If the justification for private ownership of assault rifles is the need of the people to defend themselves and their liberties from the armed force of a tyrannical state, shouldn’t there also be private ownership of machine guns, tanks, jet planes, and nuclear bombs? After all, can assault rifles in the hands of individuals prevail against an all-out armed government tyranny?

This type of thinking seriously misunderstands the nature of tyranny so the reductio ad absurdam is rendered largely ineffective.

The purpose of any tyranny is to subjugate and humiliate a hated enemy. An efficiently-run tyranny is one that subjugates and humiliates an enemy while extracting the maximum amount of resources possible. To do this requires boots-on-the-ground. Heavily armed men are surgical in their ability to subjugate. They can kick down doors, separate family members, kill one person, while yelling at another, rape women and engage in all kinds of mayhem that is largely confined to the intended target. Machine guns, tanks, nuclear weapons, jet planes, drones, etc., are not surgical weapons. They simply destroy or not. They can kill, and threaten to kill, but they induce collateral damage not confined to an intended target. Collateral resources that can be taken away from an enemy end up being destroyed by these weapons.

Consider this scenario. DHS FEMA soldiers go door to door making sure the residents are defenseless. Behind them is a 2,000-strong flash mob led by Jamie Foxx, Quentin Tarantino, Harvey Weinstein and Harry Belafonte. They go into the first house, kill a father, rape a mother, send the two sons to labor in different FEMA camps, one the West coast and the other on the East. Behind them is a George Soros knockoff, meticulously cataloging the assets of the family to be collected and distributed to loyal apparatchiks. Maybe the house goes to Rahm Emmanuel’s son, along with the daughter. The process is repeated.

Try doing any of this with a tank. Or a drone. Or a nuclear missile. It is not possible. Armed men on the ground are needed to do tyranny correctly. Remove the ability of armed men to function, and you’ve greatly increased the cost of imposing tyranny on society, no matter what other fancy toys a government has.

This is why being able to equip civilians with small arms that go toe-to-toe with military weapons is the sweet-spot equalizer. It so raises the cost of tyranny that the attempt is rarely tried.

This is why the AR15 is so popular and why it is a necessary component of the second amendment. Whatever standardized small arms available to the military when equally available to the civilian, negates the military’s ability to do harm to the civilian populace. The Democrats, who fully intend on doing bad things to you, want to make this weapon unavailable so that you can’t go through the body armor of the FEMA agents they want to invade your homes.

Ed M. writes:

Hope I’m not being too technical, but terminology is critical, and much of it is used incorrectly, creating very wrong impressions.

Assault rifles have not been legal to manufacture for the civilian market since May of 1986.

You can see page images from a U.S. Army publication containing the official definition of the term “assault rifle” here.

It states, “Assault rifles are short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.”

“Selective-fire” means that it can be switched between semi-automatic fire and fully automatic fire or a three-round burst.

So an AR-15, being just a semi-automatic civilian rifle, is not an “assault rifle,” nor is it “high-powered” since its typical 5.56x45mm chambering is a medium-powered cartridge.

The standard size of the magazine (often incorrectly referred to as a “clip”) is 20 rounds, but one is free to obtain fuller capacity magazines.

The main advantage of higher-capacity magazines for those who use them for sporting purposes is simple convenience.

Loading less often saves wear and tear on equipment and thumbs and allows more time to enjoy one’s shooting sport. Just another part of our right to keep and bear arms.

“Assault weapon” is essentially a spurious term created or at least codified by the expired Federal “Assault Weapon” ban of 1994.

Plus I think it’s bogus and harmful to our rights to include any mention of limits, “need” or “purpose” in relation to our right to keep and bear arms.

It is simply one of the pre-existing natural rights specifically mentioned in the Constitution so that it would be “not be infringed.”

The Second Amendment’s mention of the militia (defined by Federal law 10 U.S.C. S 311 as all able-bodied males aged 17-45) is there for emphasis, not qualification.

Whether by design or by accident, incorrect terminology creates misinformation and unhelpful emotions which do not contribute to sound judgment or decision-making related to the issues.

Mark P. writes:

This is an answer to Kathleen M’s question:

I have a sincere question related to the long thread about guns: When the United States had the 1994-2004 assault weapons ban, were gun owners harmed by that law? The ban didn’t lead to a larger ban on guns or ammunition, so that would seem to negate the slippery slope argument if the ban were renewed. Other than whether the law was effective at curbing crime or not, could someone please explain how the ban harmed gun owners? Gun owners still had access to guns and ammunition. (Not trying to pick any fights here, just sincerely wondering about this.)

Kathleen needs to understand how this ban works. The ban does not make all of these assault weapons illegal. Previous sales of these guns are still legal, as are the large capacity magazines. It is also still legal to buy and sell these weapons, as they existed before the ban. In effect, they are grandfathered.

This harms gun owners by a) the price of these legal guns skyrockets; b) the owners don’t get to use them as much for fear of encounters with police. How can you enjoy your legal product when you have to carry documentation to prove that you legally own it? What prevents a hostile jurisdiction from losing your docs and jailing you until the matter is sorted out? Lawyers can cost thousands and you can lose your job.

Imagine if the state of California made it illegal to buy a car. Current owners can have one, but are subject to harassment. New owners have to pay staggering prices for used cars. The same thing happens with guns.

Mark P. continues:

Simply put, the AR15 is a much better home defense weapon than a shotgun. I took a course on concealed carry/home defense. The instructor pointed out that a shotgun is extremely messy. At any distance within a bedroom, a shotgun will take the head and half the torso off. After the forensics team is done, a hazmat team needs to be brought in to clean the crime scene, of blood, plasma, feces, organic matter bone, and anything else that gets embedded in the walls.

People tout the “intimidation” factor, racking the slide and such, but the home defense course stated flatly that you should never chase down a home invader in your own house. The proper procedure is to barricade yourself inside a bedroom, with your gun, while calling the police on speakerphone and making sure everything that happens is recorded on the 911 systems. This means that any assailant is shot through the door, right before a warning is given out loud that you are armed and willing to fire.

The AR15 fires a light round at high velocity. It will penetrate body armor (a shotgun won’t). Because it is so light, the bullet will begin to tumble as it passes through objects. It loses the spin created by the rifling and starts to hit objects sideways. This bleeds energy very quickly and prevents overpenetration.

Paul Henri writes:

The LA riot quip is funny. And your continued equanimity (and most of your posters) is exactly the kind the discourse a civilized people must engage in, although I can see you are biased in favor of restrictions.

We need to use common sense. It would be nice to engage in an erudite discussion of the Constitution’s language and the relatively few Supreme Court decisions about the rights of gun ownership that one poster has brought to light, that is, the clause about a “militia.” But the Court members have never had more sense than the rest of us.

In addition, there might be many studies about the use of semi-automatic rifles. Flawed studies are how the left responds to common sense. Most studies are undoubtedly flawed because academia is controlled by liberals. And most so-called conservative studiers do not have their heart in it; we can see that the hearts of most conservatives are not ready for a brawl. (Sidebar: Boehner capitulated in the fiscal cliff battle two years ago, and conservatives want to fight it right now with two less senators, an extremely liberal commander in chief that will be around for four more years, not just two, and a large majority opposed to the cliff. Moreover, conservatives are not ready for the potential devastation of the automatic tax increases and budget cuts. The very rich will be very rich with or without a win by conservatives. Conservatives can roll things back later.)

Clearly the weapons are not the cause but the means. Most conservatives probably know this already based on common sense, but let us see the proof. We did not have a fully-automatic weapons ban until 1934, which was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1968. The ban was twenty-six years after the Browning automatic rifle, which was invented many years after the Gatling gun was invented. There were no massacres of schoolchildren with similar weapons or their progeny until relatively recently.

The cause is cultural. Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. The killing is an acute symptom of a condition we cannot quite put our fingers on, yet. Is it movies, the Media, computer games, books, abandonment of Christianity, or all of them? (It surely ain’t got nothin’ to do with American football.)

A reasonable temporary solution is part of what the NRA proposes: put armed guards in schools. Then let us see if the cultural condition expresses its symptoms elsewhere. Will it be the workplace, baseball stadiums, churches, or conservative lectures?

It has been my observation based on prosecuting many commitments that these deranged people hate authority. With liberals advocating the tearing apart of all authority that does not support liberalism, these deranged people could be picking up on the liberal attitude and transforming it, because the deranged are incapable of thinking like most people, into permission to tear up anything their deranged minds fix on. The Newtown killer killed his ultimate authority figure first: his mother.

N. writes:

Multiple persons in this thread have discussed the 2nd Amendment in terms of rights that it “confers” or “grants” to the people. This is a common error.

Read the Constitution, and the Bill of rights. The documents confer powers upon government, and acknowledge pre-existing rights of the people. Those rights do not depend upon any earthly power for their origin.

To liberals and the left, government grants rights—or more accurately, extends privileges, in reality—to individuals. But the Constitution was not written by such men. To them, God granted certain rights to individuals, and the document they crafted recognized those pre-existing rights.

The Bill of rights enumerates certain rights. It does not grant, or confer them. The difference is subtle, but very significant.

Robert S. writes:

I believe you are incorrect is asserting that the purpose of firearms is self-defense. Like hunting, self-defense is not the point of the Second Amendment. That Amendment was intended to give citizens the weapons needed to overthrow a despotic government. It was written by men who had just done that themselves and who were suspicious of any central government, hence all the now-dead restrictions they placed on it.

This interpretation changes the discussion about firearms restrictions substantially. The mention of militias in the Amendment might indicate that any weapon that might be found in a militia company should be available to citizens. This would include automatic rifles, grenades, land mines, rocket-propelled grenades, crew-served machine guns and mortars.

Whether or not one thinks this is a good idea in modern America is another matter. However, the long-term historical trend in the USA is towards despotism. Today, the President is authorized to arrest and imprison anyone whom he believes is a terrorist. Lincoln, Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Obama have all done so. He can also kill them, and Obama does so regularly. He killed an American citizen and his son in Yemen. Americans living in America are not exempt from these powers.

The terms of the discussion need to change. Basically, should people be able to resist despotism?

Terry Morris writes:

The new thread on gun control is great. Excellent comments by all. I’m very glad now that I took the time to ask the initial question.

I come down on this issue from something of a different perspective. While I recognize that the Constitution is something of a dead letter nowadays, I still insist that the second amendment, as with the rest of the Bill of rights, was never intended to be applied to the State and local governments. To me this is still a very important distinction to make, in spite of the illegitimate Incorporation Doctrine. Therefore my contention, unlike that of anyone else who has contributed to this discussion, is that the constitution permits gun control laws at the State and local levels, while it does not permit such laws at the federal level. We also know that at the time the founders were discussing the issue of attaching a bill of rights to the constitution, there was a big debate surrounding the fear that such a declaration of rights might (and eventually probably would) become themselves dangerous instruments of government tyranny. Relevant passages may be found in Federalist no. 84.

Thanks so much for entertaining my question.

JM writes:

1. When anybody on the right makes concessions to the left on anything, the left makes further and more hysterical demands. If we let them tell us we can only own ten-round magazines, they’ll just be energized to ban something else. I trust you not to be so energized, but you’re not running their operation. Pelosi and Obama are. They interpret good will as weakness, and they attack.

2. With practice, anybody can change magazines very rapidly. Further, hundreds of millions of standard-capacity magazines are already out there in private hands. A ban on standard-capacity magazines wouldn’t do much but raise their market value.

3. Finally, you’ve said that “it’s their country now.” You’re right, and they’re running it into the ground. In twenty or forty years, the remnant of American civilization may need modern, effective firearms very badly. I hope not, but we can’t know. That’s the end game I’m concerned about. I hope to preserve for the future everything I can that may be to our advantage.

Richard K. writes:

I just wanted to thank you for publishing this thoughtful discussion. I have nothing to add, just wanted you to know it’s appreciated.

Jonathan S. writes:

Here in Israel, all schools have gated entrances staffed by at least one armed guard.

Allen W. writes:

I find it striking that the discussion of gun controls begins with the Second Amendment. Let us note that the Declaration of Independence addresses our inalienable rights, which precede government. So we would have the right to self-defense even if there were no government. Moreover the Constitution, which restricts government to its delegated powers, in no way provides it the power to deny a citizen the right to bear arms. Yet people discuss gun control as though people had no right to bear arms prior to the Constitution, or as though the Constitution deprived them of that right. Rather they debate whether the Second Amendment, which only addresses not abridging the right to bear arms, is at issue. (It may also be noted that some of our Founders opposed having the Bill of rights (the first Ten Amendments) for the very reason that it could be interpreted as though the Constitution did not accept those rights to begin with.)

Now I do not deny the value of the Second Amendment, which pertains to the need for a militia, and to limitations on Federal power, but that does not get to the fundamentals. Individuals have the right to self-defense, while the Constitution (with or without its Amendments) aims at subordinating the government to the protection of our inalienable rights. This does not mean that I would place no limits on citizen empowerment, such as by permitting hand grenades, Sarin gas, or nuclear bombs. There is a tradeoff between having the power to resist government tyranny, and the threat to the public by their citizenry. I submit that a public armed with handguns can resist government tyranny even though government is far better armed.

I do concede a gray area where the Korean shopkeepers successfully constrained the L.A. rioters with their powerful weapons, because the government would not act. As noted on this site, the government frequently violates its role to protect its citizenry. So there is an issue on how much power should be taken from individuals. However, this does not deny the principle that the public, in its need to protect itself from government, must also be protected from an unbridled citizenry.

George W. writes:

I grew up in New York City and believed what you probably believe. I now live in America’s “gun capital,” Texas. I see guns everywhere. So? I can shoot. I own guns. So? Remember what Chairman Mao said, “political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.”

I lived in Los Angeles in 1992 and saw Korean shop owners protect their stores with guns, The rough, tough LAPD was nowhere to be seen. But the LAPD carried “double-column nines,” i.e., nine millimeter handguns which typically have 15 rounds in the magazine. LAPD officers usually carried two spare magazines and a “back-up” weapon. Frequently a small 38 special revolver. Let’s see: that’s 3 x 15 = 45 rounds plus another six in the “back-up” or 51 in total for each LAPD. Apparently that was not enough for them to feel safe in 1992. Why should a civilian carry less?

Also, you might be interested in 1997s shootout in North Hollywood to see what can go wrong. Supposely the LAPD and robbers expended 2,000 rounds of ammunition before the conflict ended.

James N. writes:

Nothing works on Morlocks like high capacity magazines.

Ben S. writes:

I do not argue that felons cannot be deprived of the right to bear arms, because I recognize the distinction between deprivation of a right and infringement of a right. To deprive someone of a right is to pronounce that the right no longer applies to them, and the Constitution contemplates that this may be done with “due process of law.” To infringe a right is to take an action that is contrary to the right where it does apply. On the other hand, I do not think that the Federal government has Constitutional authority to ban persons convicted in State courts from gun ownership; that is up to the States.

I mentioned nuclear weapons to make the point that where there is a true national consensus for prohibition, there will be the support necessary to amend the Constitution accordingly. The one reason I can think of for opposition to such an amendment (besides support for private nuke ownership) is because it would recognize that the text of the Constitution has legal force independent of what moderns believe to be socially desirable. That would mean in turn that expansions of Federal power—however fashionable—require the consent of 3/4 of the States. Although that is what the Founders intended, it is anathema to liberals.

Finally, I think that Sam gave a perfect explanation of the trade-off that exists from a policy standpoint regarding what weapons to allow, but I have three things to add:

1. The provisions of the Constitution determine that the trade-off arrived at will favor weapon-ownership more than a simple majority vote would, because the Second Amendment favors weapon-ownership extremely, and any distancing from that starting point requires supermajority consent. It could be argued that this situation is due to quirks of history and technology, but nevertheless it is the legal reality, which respect for the rule of law demands be the practical reality.

2. The optimal trade-off shifts farther to the right (toward weapon-ownership) when one considers the moral hazard implied by Richard W.’s comment: that by debasing the morals of its citizens (or by encouraging immigration of less capable and law-abiding foreigners), the government can shift the trade-off to the left, thereby increasing its own power. This odious dynamic demands to be vigorously compensated against.

3. In my opinion, the trade-off should be made well to the right of the point set by our present (unconstitutional) laws. My reason is that our society could withstand far worse mass killings*, but that if citizens are unable to resist tyranny when the time comes (which seems fairly possible under the status quo), the effect will be catastrophic and likely irreversible.

*Officially there were 14,022 murders in 2011, so even if a mass killing were to happen every three months, and 300 people died each time (as they might in an airliner shootdown), the murder rate would be boosted by less than one tenth. That is from the premises of American society. When one contemplates that 23 children are slaughtered via abortion every 10 minutes, the week of media fixation on 20 murdered children in Connecticut stands revealed as an infernal joke. But what else should we expect from our nation of murderers?

JC from Houston writes:

It seems that the day after Sandy Hook a man killed his brothers and wounded his own son and a police officer with a semiautomatic AK-47 “assault rifle” yet there was no mention of it in the media. You don’t suppose that would have something to do with the fact that he is a once deported illegal alien from Mexico?

Kathlene M. writes:

I want to thank you for having some of the best comments/commenters I’ve seen on the gun debate, and for devoting your precious time/energy to this.

One argument I’ve read that poses a problem for conservatives is the “freedom” argument which cites the second amendment to support gun owners’ right (or unlimited freedom) to own any gun they want in any quantity they want. The argument notes that private arms ownership is a freedom that the government should have no right to regulate but which of course it does, by banning machine guns and surface-to-air missiles from private ownership for example. But then the same conservatives argue that liberals’ arguments for similar unlimited constitutional “freedoms,” for example for anyone to marry anyone they want, should be restricted. (Or maybe I’m wrong and these are the libertarian “conservatives” arguing for freedom for marriage too.) Yet obviously the government places restrictions on marriage which liberals are trying to eliminate. What I’m trying to say is that conservatives have accepted the popular libertarian definition of freedom in America today, and this is counter-productive to their arguments.

I am not a gun-control advocate since California has an open-ended assault weapons ban which doesn’t seem particularly effective in curtailing crime here. I’m asking these questions because I wonder how conservatives ought to be arguing the gun issue. Shouldn’t conservatives be making the case for ordered freedoms (aka liberty), which is not the same as tyranny?

Not sure if I’m writing this in a clear manner, so apologies if it doesn’t make sense.

R. from Hawaii writes:


I’m new to your site, I like it, as you are smarter and certainly write better than me.

I would love to hear about your conversion (s) of liberals/progressives by a calm and reasoned debate. Mine seem to devolve into un-pleasantries, facts being an inconvenience for some. I personally believe that we ( conservatives) are debating in an old and honored tradition, against those who view and perhaps rightly so, disagreement in world view as war. As with many generals, we are still fighting the last war.

I write in reference to:

Why do gun-rights defenders oppose any restrictions on the firepower of semi-automatic rifles?

My response would be. Why are you trying to limit the firepower and by that, I assume you mean my ability to put multiple rounds downrange? Will my ability to shoot you with only one cartridge in my rifle make you feel better than if I had 30? If not then where do we draw the line, or is your intent to erase that line? If I feel the need to kill you, will I stop because of a law? Will I stop because they have taken my guns? Knives, bare-hands, chainsaw, candlestick in the parlor? Removing my guns will only prevent me from adequately defending myself.

Facts will show that the amount of murders committed with semi-automatic rifles is so small in a country of 320 million as to be statistically insignificant. Unless of course you are one of them. But then of course, we are left with damn lies and statistics. The truth of the matter is that we are promised life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We are not guaranteed happiness and we are not guaranteed safety. Responsibility for health, happiness and security for oneself and ones family is yours, not the government, you. I take my responsibility seriously and if I see fit to charge my weapon with 30 rounds or 100 I will do it.

The term “assault weapon” was coined by the Feinstein wing of anti-gunners. The term was used to identify weapons with “scary” features like, flash suppressors, bayonet lugs and a black color. “Cop killer bullets, automatic assault weapons” and more are the invention of the media and anti-gun crusaders. As such they are designed with the express desire to misinform the low information voter/citizen. With the desired end result of the complete confiscation of all firearms from citizens. Mealy mouth expressions and questions framed in a manner to elicit the desired response. Feelings now instead of logic. So how about some facts. almost 17,000 murders and almost 11000 from guns of which just over 600 were from long guns of all types. Oh, and the numbers are dropping even as concealed carry grows.

More children are killed by their parents than guns. More children are killed in swimming pools than by guns. 18 times more people are killed by medical errors than by guns. 40 times more people are killed by smoking than guns. So why are they always harping on “Assault Weapons”? Because it’s the “reasonable” first step. Why do you need all those bullets? You can’t fight the army. Why do you cling to your guns and bible? Yes, a reasonable, thoughtful discussion based on facts and not emotion, no hyperbole. A calm discussion between adults.

Clips are not magazines. Some clips (stripper) are used to charge a magazine with fresh rounds.

Stripper clips were also used to feed between 5 and 10 rounds into the internal magazine of battle rifles like the German Mauser, 5 rounds, or the British Enfield, 10 rounds. The U.S. M1 Garand was charged with 8. These weapons were described as Main Battle Rifles.

Machine guns are legal to own. They are referred to as “Class III” weapons. They are limited to pre-1986 manufacture. That being the case they can be and are usually quite expensive. A Thompson sub-machine gun can cost over $40,000 and the least expensive class 3 weapon I’ve seen runs about 5k.Suppressors (not silencers) and short barreled rifles and shotguns are also legal class 3 weapons. I don’t know if they are class 3 or not but tanks, jet fighters are legal to own. Pretty expensive to buy and maintain but legal. If I owned a nuclear weapon….once I had it, who’s to tell me I can’t? You can own belt fed, .30 caliber Maxims’ as well as a Browning Automatic Rifle, just like Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde) preferred. Up to and including a Bofors gun (if I had the money and space, I’d have one!).

As an aside. There has been one murder in the U.S. in the last 60 years using a machine gun, the perp was a cop.

Hawaii, where I live, restricts pistol magazines to hold no more than ten rounds. I can be sent to jail for possessing a magazine that holds over 10 rounds, even if I do not own the gun it will fit. Though police and military can hold 15 or more, I wonder why they need so many? Zombies? Look up Todd Jarrett, Rob Leatham, IPSC and IDPA on youtube and see pistoleros who can run and gun and reload with amazing speed and accuracy. “El Presidente” Draw, fire two shots at each of 3 targets, reload and do it again in under four seconds

I think we should have a “national discussion” on the antiquated and oft abused 1st Amendment. Do we really need freedom of speech, when so many abuse the privilege with, if not outright lies, then lies by omission. I believe you can go to prison for that, if you do it in a court of law. Let’s not even mention the filth easily found on the internet. It’s time we did something, anything, before another child finds their way to …

I mentioned to my wife that what passes as commercials today was porn when I was a kid. Someone in Washington should do something, anything. That darn Constitution should be done away with, hell it’s real old and those old dead white guys couldn’t foresee how things would be today. Heck I’m glad they can listen to and intercept all my calls, e-mails and text messages. I don’t have anything to hide. Being harassed at the airport and arriving hours before my flight, seems a small price to pay for my safety.

So … if all your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?

M. Reagan writes:

Perhaps Obama was on to something with his remark about “bitter people clinging to their guns and religion.” The conservative triptych of God, Guns and GOP were squarely in his sights, and despite the snark factor , maybe Obama was not too far off the mark after all.

As Chairman Mao told us, power begins at the end of a gun; so is it any wonder that today’s young males are drawn to violent video games like children are to candy?

But forget Call of Duty for a moment, everything any self-respecting juvenile delinquent loner needs to know about life, he learns day one in the steelyard. It’s there that he learns the hard and cruel lessons about his nonstatus—and he can either learn to lump it and like it, perhaps with an oily mix of servility and sarcasm, or he can come back in the morning wearing camo and both barrels blazing.

Of course, in modern-day America with both MMA and Quentin Tarantino, any confrontation naturally leads to violence. But when a Newtown boy pops his mom execution-style, and then, after a good night’s sleep, shoots his way into the local elementary and starts taking out the first grade classroom by classroom, the country has to stop and ask itself who is to blame?

“We can’t make any sense of it,” said a local Sheriff. A more demonstrably untrue statement probably couldn’t be devised, and yet a vast inspirational literature machine grinds out propaganda to the contrary.

Fix the schools? Instill morality in today’s youth? Bring religion back to the classroom? Hardly. You see, a gun is a simpler and more elegant answer all around.

Already some are making the argument that the real way to deter such shootings is to arm the local teachers. Apparently these pundits have never actually been to an actual elementary school or seen an actual elementary school teacher. These stressed-out, harried educators—between the parent-teacher meetings, restroom patrol and popping anti-depressants—hardly have time let alone the mindset to be cleaning and weaponizing the classroom glock.

But somewhere, there is another fringe group arguing that the real answer would be to send our kids to school with a 9 mm in their lunchbox, to better defend themselves. The old NRA argument for putting guns in the hands of the defenseless carries a little more weight when you think what might have happened if little Johnny had come to school packing heat.

There’s nothing more infuriating than powerlessness, and nobody is more powerless than kids.

But it’s in those troubled years following pubescence, when no boy with any cojones can be expected not to resist the urge to let off a little steam now and again. The less brittle among us, manage to survive the high school years, and later move on to more socially acceptable sublimations as lap dances or cigar bars, the primordial urge to “shoot first and count the bodies later” becomes a special lifestyle choice limited to gang members and mercenaries.

Sure, the rich have their bodyguards and the reasonably well off have gated communities and restraining orders to keep the world at bay. That leaves the lower orders to fend for themselves, and children are the lowest order of all. They can’t vote, can’t carry, and no one will even sell them a bottle of Beefeater to ease their troubled souls. The well-adjusted sorts get along tolerably well, but that’s even more reason for an angry, maladjusted youngster to off the normals but good when the chance presents itself. Given this country’s infatuation with saintly black killers buying skittles, women with big butts and gluten-free , it’s not very sporting to feign amazement when the white kid nobody likes or talks to fights back.

Guns, of course, have been a longstanding icon of inalienable and irrelevant rights. After all, who knows when you might need to scramble together a make-shift militia to confront domestic enemies like Frank Rich, Puff Daddy and Rosie O’Donnell?

All of which serves to remind us that, as H. Rap Brown once said, violence is as American as apple pie. Despite the encroachments of support-group bathos on our once-virile national spirit, frontier justice still maintains its place at the center of cultural iconography albeit largely through the modern-day video game. Kicking ass, not living large, remains the best revenge. And who has internalized that lesson better than our youth?

A reader writes:

I think that it is wrong to accept the lefts premise that guns are at fault

I think that discussing magazine capacity and other small details misses the gigantic point that the left has unleashed massive evil on the world. I think discusssion should be about abandoned kids and the culture that makes them

Clark Coleman writes:

I know that technical talk about guns is not the focus of this conversation, but there is a common misconception that can get people killed, and it has been stated at least twice already by your commenters; namely, that you don’t have to aim a shotgun all that well when you are defending your home. The degree of scatter from a shotgun is very small at the distances involved in home defense. The fact that the scatter is significant when shooting at a duck or pheasant that is one hundred feet away from you is very helpful to hunters, especially given the difficulty of shooting a moving (flying) target. At ten to twenty feet, you had better aim very accurately. If anyone wants to investigate the truth of my claim, I am sure that they can do so easily with a search engine.

Posted December 23, 5:15 p.m.

Conatus writes:

This link, from the FBI, has statistics that indicate hands and feet are more lethal than rifles, which I assume include the soopah-bad assault rifles.

On another note, even the left should be aware that today’s progressive Obama type government could be tomorrow’s anti-progressive Hitler type government. This law review article,” Of Holocausts and Gun Control, 75 Wash. U.L.Q. 1237” (online) raises some interesting points such as this:

“but it is nevertheless an arresting reality that none of the principal genocides of the twentieth century, and there have been dozens, has been inflicted on a population that was armed.”

[LA replies: Richard Poe made the same point powerfully in his book The Seven Myths of Gun Control.]

What most gun control advocates want is a government-controlled monopoly on lethal violence. Then the dangerous assumption they are positing is that the government, although it changes hands every four or two or six years will always be benign. Remember, the pendulum swings and the government you like today can be the tyrant who hates you, and your kind, tomorrow. Ask the Jewish people of WWII Europe or the Armenians in Turkey or how about the Cambodians of the seventies if they thought their governing apparatus was going to turn on them lethally?

Do you want that tyrant to have a monopoly on lethal violence?

That is the very point of military style weapons in the hands of many many civilians, there will be no Holocaust of a disarmed minority if there is no monopoly. You want at least a duopoly on the use of lethal violence and yes, it is messy but there is no Utopia, and never will be. I think Samuel Butler called it Erewhon or Nowhere.

Also R.J. Rummel wrote a book online called “Death by government” where he enumerates the 170 million deaths by government (he calls it Democide) in the 20th Century.

Whiskey writes:

I have a (very long) post up on the Gun Culture in America.

Basically, Americans historically have needed and wanted guns because the government has been corrupt, inept, or politically unwilling to provide protection from non-White attackers, often allied with hostile colonial powers; and the government periodically (more in the South and West) been corruptly allied with criminal organizations.

This is Sam Francis’s Anarcho-Tyranny in action, only not something of the managerial class but deeper. As deep and as repetitive as Bacon’s Rebellion, King Philip’s War, the Regulators, the Red Stick Wars, the Seminoles, Murel’s Gang, Joaquin Murietta, the Committee of Vigilance, and Pancho Villa, to name just a few.

Consistently, the Colonial Authorities, and later the Feds in the modern era, did not want to roil the waters by providing real protection against marauding Indians (often aided by the French and Spanish, later the British), or black riots and street crime. Governor William Berkeley might as well be Barack Obama, for the same attitudes and responses. At other times, the Colonial authorities were simply absent, inept, or too distant to be of any help even if they wanted, which mostly they didn’t. This describes the reality for much of rural America.

Forgotten now, the New England Colonies and New York were the constant targets of Indian atrocities upon the Great Warpath, coming down from Canada all along the Allegheny and Appalachian Mountains as far south as Alabama. You can read contemporary accounts of massacres then that are almost eerily similar to that of say, Sandy Hook.

The argument for possessing AR-15s and other military style, but not military in action, “assault rifles” is that sustained attacks against White settlements is the historical norm and is likely to continue, with the connivance of the elites and government. It may be urban marauding of the suburbs, as places like Detroit simply collapse. It might be armed Flash Mobs targeting more lucrative suburbs. It might be corrupt government in cahoots with brutal gangs, a regular feature of American history.

But it would be very, very odd, and ahistorical, to suppose that America’s multi-racial history will suddenly take a turn towards peace and love and understanding, rather than inter-racial violence and strife, egged on by foreign actors, and tolerated by hostile governments that regard the people as something to be repeatedly punished at best.

James N. writes:

I’m sure someone else in your inbox has made this observation, but, just in case:

There is a reason that the left is so exercised about private ownership of firearms, exercised to the point of obsession, and it’s not that they want to protect children.

They want to protect themselves. There are things that want to do that they cannot do with the degree of effectiveness, ruthlessness, or personal safety that becomes possible with a disarmed population. I was genuinely shocked at the comments of Elie Wiesel, for the simple reason that he of all people should know better.

Often when speaking about gun control, Henry Waxman or Dianne Feinstein mention that .50 caliber rifles ($12 000/each) fire a round that can penetrate armored limousines. Presumably, most of their constituents don’t ride in armored limousines.

If you are still on the fence re: “gun control” after digesting your vile sycophants’ comments, remember this exhortation from Napoleon: “Never do what your enemy wishes, for this reason alone: that he desires it.”

Terry Morris writes:

All of that said in my previous e-mail to you on the subject—essentially that the second amendment was written to protect us against federal gun control laws, not State or local gun control laws, and that its misuse by either side of the argument exacerbates the problem—if my State were to pursue the types of gun control laws you think to be reasonable, I would vehemently oppose the measure and do all in my power politically to stop it.

I have, since I was about twelve years old, always owned a semi-automatic rifle of some kind. Indeed, virtually everyone I know owns a semi-auto rifle and/or pistol. Not one of us have ever even threatened to shoot another human being with these weapons to my knowledge. A number of these individuals are, or once were, law enforcement officers who support the right of the common folk to keep and bear arms, even the semi-auto kind. My personal opinion of the Supreme Court ruling in the Chicago gun ban case is that it was an absolute encroachment on the rights of Cities to enact and enforce laws which to them “seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.” But here again, I would oppose such a law in my State or my town.

As a side note, I have a shotgun (and a pistol) for home protection. I fired it into the air late one night about two years ago when a would-be invader was trying to break into the house next door to me, which was unoccupied and being remodeled at the time. And I can assure you that simply firing it into the air got the guy’s attention, quick, fast and in a hurry. I didn’t realize mere mortals could move so fast. Run Forrest, run!

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 23, 2012 12:29 PM | Send

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