Hey there, and welcome back to my little corner of cyberspace. It's been a while I must admit. October was a rather hectic month for me, what with 3 gun and knife shows, my daughter's birthday, and changes at my "day job"; but at the same time I've noticed a continuation of some things that concern me rather deeply. Specifically I'm talking about the choice of rhetoric being used by those who are supposedly on our side in the gun control debate.
Okay, I know, I've been guilty of it myself from time to time; especially when I do such things as refer to Mom's For Gun Sense as Mom's With No Sense. I also realize that I may be alienating some of my customer base with what I'm about to say. None the less, I honestly believe it's something that could come backhand bite us in the ass, if you'll excuse my French. Why? Well let's consider a survey I recently received from a group that claims to be fighting to protect the Second Amendment.
This survey started off innocently enough, but in the second paragraph they started referring to "Freedom hating Liberals", "Gun Grabbers", and "Communistic Socialistic haters of America"; just to name a few of the terms used. They also stated that all liberals hate guns and would never even think of owning one, yet later on in the same survey implied that Liberals were starting to stock pile guns for the express purpose of shooting all gun owners as well as starting a violent revolution against the Federal government! Excuse me? They wouldn't own a gun even you paid them but they're buying up all the guns they can get their hands on at the same time? Dude, the logic behind that completely escapes me. You cannot have it both ways!
Still, that little bit of convoluted logic is not what bothered me about the whole thing. Look. America is getting so polarized right now that some families are even going through divorces simply because of political differences, and language like that used in this particular survey is NOT helping matters. It certainly doesn't help convince people who may be on the fence about gun control to see things our way!
Imagine for a minute that you heard a gun control advocacy group referring to us as "Neo-Fascist", "Anarchy Lovers", or even "Anti-Law". Most people would assume that they're as radical as it gets! Yet if you stop and really think about it, those terms are not any different than what some gun rights advocacy groups are using; and many people would are on the fence about gun control have come to the conclusion that we are as radical as it gets as a result. The fact is that the effective gun control groups are currently sounding much more rational than we are right now, and it's going to come back and bite us in the ass if we're not careful!
Let's take my father as an example. Dad was not a hunter, or any type of outdoorsman. He was a good shot, and he owned one rifle he bought to get rid of "varmints". If he was still alive today, he would have concluded that no rational human being would ever believe the "crap" that gun right activists are spouting. He would then have listened to the various gun control groups who avoid such language (at least in public any way), and he would have found himself believing that they really didn't want to get rid of all guns, just the dangerous ones. What would never have occurred to him until someone like myself had pointed it out was that since his bolt action rifle was once a military rifle back around the time of WWI, it was one of those "dangerous rifles" that needed to be taken off the street. But if the person who told him that used "radical" language like that used in the survey that sparked this little ramble, then dad would have been convinced that they were exaggerating things. In fact he'd have remained convinced of that right up to the point that they came for his rifle!
Yes, it's true that gun control advocates have not given up the fight. And yes, we must remain vigilant to keep our Second Amendment rights. But we need to be careful in the language we use.. The fact is that there are a lot of people out there who are like my father was. There are also a lot of people like my sister, who considers herself a Liberal but still owns a few guns; and these are the very people we need to convince to side with us. We need to reach out to them and show them why supporting the Second Amendment is so important. But if we keep using arguments that refer to "Freedom Hating Liberals" and other emotionally charged terms, we will be written off as irrational and radicals by the very people we need on our side.
What's worse is that the words we use do affect the way we think. If we continue to use such terms, we run the very real risk of becoming as polarized, and as radical, as we sound! I mentioned people getting divorced over politics? Well one couple I know is doing exactly that! They got married during Reagon's terms in office, and lasted through Bush Sr., Clinton, Bush Jr., and Obama. But cracks began to form during Obama's second term, and thing are so bad now in their conflicting views on Trump that they have filed for a divorce! My parents generation would never have allowed difference in politics to ruin their marriage, nor would my grandparents generation; but now it's actually becoming all too common!
The simple fact is that we need people like my father and my sister to be on our side. But if we allow ourselves to think of them a "Freedom Hating", it won't be long until we start seeing them as threats instead of potential allies! Once that happens, we've lost. Let's be honest with ourselves. It may be true that more guns are owned here in America than at any time in the past, but it used to be that most gun owners only owned one or two guns. Avid hunters would own a rifle and maybe a shotgun. People like my father would own one rifle to get rid of varmints. Some people might own a hand gun, but most would only have one or two. Today however most gun owners are more like myself. We own 2 or 3 different rifles for different purposes (a 30-06 or 308 for hunting and maybe a Ruger 10/22 just for fun) and 2 or 3 different handguns. One for concealed carry if we have a permit, one for home defense possibly, and another just for fun. As a result, while more guns are owned by Americans than ever before, a smaller percentage of the population own those guns. So if we start alienating those who don't own guns, or those who own a gun or two but think themselves as moderates or liberals, it's just a matter of time before the gun control advocates will win.
I hope I've given you reason to think about this, and I really hope you understand my fears. But in the meantime I've once again ran way over what I meant to write, so I suppose it's time to putty soap box away for now. I look forward to seeing you back here again soon, and, as always, remember. If you're going to do something, no matter how minor, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing with attitude!
As we approach the end of another week since the dreadful shooting in Orlando, I hear more and more talk about gun control and the evils or necessities there of; and I also hear an awful lot of information that's just plain wrong, especially about the AR15 rifle that the main stream media is still claiming was used in that attack. The question on my mind though, is how to get the truth out there without boring my regular readers to tears yet at the same time not insulting those sitting on the fence on the gun control issue.
First off, let me say that I'm not going to get into my personal views on gun control. For those who really want to know, I've talked about enough both here and in other places that you can ferret it out if you absolutely must; but this ramble is aimed simply on educating those who wish to know a little about so called assault weapons, including where the name AR15 came from and just what a MSR is. So let's start with a little history, shall we?
As those who have been following me for awhile now know, much of my love of guns has come from my love of history; and so it shouldn't surprise anyone that that's what I choose to start with. Back in 1948, the Army started looking at ground warfare in the new nuclear era and established a group to research the subject called the Operations Research Office, or ORO for short. One of ORO's first projects was a study of how effective body armor was which lead directly to studying how soldiers in WWII and eventually Korea came to be injured or killed. They decided after looking at all the data they could find that a light weight rifle firing a smaller caliber bullet was needed to replace the M14, so they decided to ask Winchester and a small, almost unheard of company called Armalite to submit designs based around a .22 caliber bullet that would weigh in at around 6 pounds and be capable of penetrating a standard issue army helmet at 500 yards. Winchester came up with a rifle very similar to the M14 that fired a .224 round while Armalite developed a rifle based loosely on a series of rifles they had been making that used a large amount of plastics and aluminum to keep the weight down, one of which interestingly enough was the AR-7 that they had produced as a "survival" rifle for the Air Force where the barrel and action could be unscrewed and stowed away inside of the plastic stock. Another was the AR-10 which was built to handle the same 7.62 NATO round that the M-14 and the M-1 before it used. Also interestingly enough, Springfield, who had been the main supplier of rifles for our military since before WWI, was banned from competing by a group who utterly opposed the idea of going to a smaller caliber round. Using research that had lead to the development of the AR10, a rifle designed to shoot the same 7.62mm round used by NATO, Armalite developed a rifle they called the AR15; which stood for Armalite Rifle model number 15. By combining the use of plastics, aluminum, and an inventive buffer system, the AR15 was lighter than the Winchester entry, and at least according to some records, more accurate and easier to shoot as well. However Armalite found itself in something of a bind. They were too small and too underfunded to weather the political infighting over the new rifle system and attempts to sell a civilian legal version of the rifle proved unprofitable, possibly because the AR-15 was too unknown and too odd looking for the time. As a result they ended up selling their design to Colt in 1959, and in the mid 1960's the M-16 was officially adopted as the standard issue battle rifle despite heavy opposition. Colt also tried to sell the AR15 as a civilian model of the M-16 and the M-16A1, but problems with the rifle during action in Vietnam gave it a possibly undeserved reputation for being unreliable. I say possibly undeserved because through out most of the Vietnam conflict the troops were being issued rifles without cleaning kits, and the early models tended to be rather prone to fouling if not properly cleaned. They also had issues with poor ammunition which definitely didn't help matters any. Improvements such as chrome lined barrels and bolt carriers help tremendously however and by the time the M-16A2 and the M-16A3 had seen solid use in the late 1970's and early 1980's the rifle's reputation had made an amazing turn around.
Today the AR-15 line of civilian legal rifles provide so many advantages that the disadvantage that still exist are almost over looked, and the ammunition available today is absolutely amazing compared to what was given to those early troops slogging through the rice fields of Vietnam. While still having the outward appearance of the M-16's and M-4's in use by todays military, the internal parts are much different and trying to use the parts made for a M-4 in an AR-15 is out of the question unless you're a good enough gunsmith to basically re-machine the gun from the ground up; but it's still an extremely modular design so anyone with a bit of co-ordination and the proper knowledge can customize an AR-15 just about any way they'd like. Want a carbine with a 16 inch barrel that can be used for home defense? Done. Need a 18 inch for improved accuracy while hunting without getting the rifle too long for quick shots? Reach for the proper barrel wrench to loosen the castle nut and you're good to go in minutes. Want an even longer 21 inch barrel for long range competition? It's no harder to arrange. Unhappy with the trigger that came with your rifle? Palmetto State Armory carries no less than 24 different triggers for the AR-15 platform and Cabelas has at least 19. Then there's scopes, lights, forward hand guards, recoil pads, basically everything except a coffee maker. This explains why the AR-15 is one of the best selling rifles on the American market, and explains why it's referred to as a Modern Sporting Rifle. I don't care what sport you need a rifle for, the AR-15 can be configured to meet any of your needs with ease.
"Okay" I hear you saying, "so it's versatile. That's why the military loves it, but there's no place in civilian life for a militarized rifle like most assault weapons. Every one knows that!" Well let's just take a look at that for a minute, shall we?
First, there's no legal or technical definition for an "assault weapon" even though pundits from CNN to MSNBC and Rolling Stone use the term frequently. There is a definition for an "Assault Rifle"; but of the 4 requirements for a gun to be considered an Assault Rifle, even if you do argue that it meets the other 3 (and I know plenty in the trade who will only allow that it meets 2), the AR-15 still fails the fourth and final requirement. To be classified as an assault rifle, the rifle in question must be capable of select fire; meaning that you must be able to switch between safe, single shot mode, and some form of burst mode, whether that be 3 rounds fired with each pull of the trigger or full auto where the rifle keeps firing as long as the trigger is pulled and there's ammo in the magazine. And I'm sorry my friend, but no AR-15 ever made for the civilian market has ever met that requirement. Thus, not an assault rifle.
Then there's the bit about the military loving the AR-15. Ummm, sorry my friend, but the military wouldn't have the AR-15 if you gave it to them as a gift. Why? Because it is not select fire. Pure and simple, with no ifs, ands, or buts. To perform it's missions in today's world, our military absolutely requires a true assault rifle that can fire either single rounds for carefully aimed fire, or full auto for when the proverbial fecal matter has truly hit the rotary impeller. True, there are times when they need something special; and those are the times when the shotguns, machine guns, and grenade launchers come out. But for everyday use, they need something that can do the work of two rifles, and since the average infantry man is too loaded down to actually carry two different rifles then the one he or she is carrying had better be able to fit both bills; and the AR-15, unlike the M-4, can't.
Finally there's the part about it having no place in the civilian world. Excuse me, but didn't I just get through explaining why some many civilians love their AR-15s? When I was a teenager way back in the dark ages, it was the norm for the average hunter to have three or four different guns for different game. Today, while most hunters will still have a couple of choices, if you are really strapped for cash then the AR-15 can replace them all. Maybe not well mind you, which is why most hunters still have at least a couple of rifles, but it will do the job in a pinch. Whether you're hunting varmet, small game, deer, elk, bear, or wild boar, there's a configuration of the AR-15 which will do the job. And since it's modular, you can change out the one you own and reconfigure it for whatever you might need. Or maybe you want it solely for home defense. With all the options available you can take an off the shelf AR-15 and have it set up to fit you perfectly. Hell, you can even reconfigure it as a pistol if you wish; though at a minimum of just under two feet it's way too big to conceal and you'll have to file papers with the BATF to tell them that you've done so. I could go on for days listing all the ways it fits into civilian life in one way or another, but this ramble is already getting way too long.
The one item I can't argue away is that what the news media loves to call an assault weapon is the most commonly used gun in most mass shooting in this country. But why is that? The question is the one very few reports answer, and the answer is rather simple. The AR-15, and similar guns, have an image of being bad ass thanks to the way they are portrayed in movies, TV shows, and other popular entertainment media; and the one thing most mass murders want is to be seen as being a bad ass. The fact that they could rack up just as large a body count with other guns doesn't even enter into it in the end. The image is all, and the ones who do their sick thing in the open with no thought of whether they might die in the act think that an "assault weapon" will give them that image. So now the question we must ask is, is making it harder for them to bolster that image worth denying the Modern Sport Rifle to all the people who love it for what it really is? I promised at the beginning of this ramble I wouldn't bring my feeling into this, so I won't tell you how I feel. But I do want you to think very carefully about my question.
But in the meantime, I'm a day late and a dollar short with this ramble; and that's at least in part because I tried so hard to keep my opinions out of it. Did I succeed? Probably not as well as I would have liked, but I think I did better than many. So until next time dear reader. My the wind be always at your back, and remember as always; if it's worth doing, it's worth doing with attitude!