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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Constant Myths about the Assault Rifle

“Think of the press as a great keyboard on which the government can play.” — Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda

I am getting very annoyed at the constant babble in the press about assault rifles. They constantly are calling rifles assault rifles and claiming that we have to limit and ban the purchase and use of these “military” weapons. This is a boldface misrepresentation of the facts.

Before continuing allow me to clear up another myth about semi-automatic guns — one that is used by so called “experts” over and over again. These experts and masterminds refer to the device that contains the bullets for a semi-automatic rifle or hand gun as a “clip.” This is not only misleading, it is false. A “clip”, the device that holds the bullets for either a single shot bolt action rifle or a semi-automatic rifle is an open device that holds anywhere from 5 to 8 bullets and put into the rifle to provide the ammunition for the rifle. Examples of this device will be found in a 7.62x57mm German Mauser Karabiner 98k or a M1 Garand 30-06 (7.62x63mm) caliber rifle, both used extensively in WWII. TheGarand_clip Garand had an “en bloc” clip containing 8 rounds while the Mauser had a “stripper clip” containing 5 rounds. The M1 was a gas-feed semi-automatic (one trigger pull, one shot) while the Mauser was a bolt action where to eject a spent cartridge and insert a live round into the chamber the soldier have to flip the bolt up, bring it back, the round was ejected and a spring forced the new round into the firing chamber. It was then necessary to push the bolt forward and lock it in place before firing. The vast majority of German soldiers carried the 98k in WWII, while our infantry was totally equipped with the M1 after 1942.

The M1 was built at a cost of $85 dollars per unit during WWII and from 1936 to 1957 approximately 6.25 million were manufactured under license to the Springfield Armory. The U.S. Navy used an M1 that fired a 0.308 (7.62x51mm cartridge) to increase performance. This rifle was used into the early days of the Vietnam War when it was replaced with the selective fire M-14. Until the introduction of the M1 (in 1942) the standard infantry weapon of the U.S. Army was the Springfield Model M1903. The M1903 (which designates the first year of its introduction to the Army) was similar in nature to the Mauser. It was a bolt action rifle that fired a 30-06 round contained a stripper clip of 5 rounds. This rifle when equipped with a telescopic sight was a very effective sniper rifle though the Vietnam War and beyond.

A clip is not to confused with a “magazine” the device that contains the ammunition for either a semi-automatic or full automatic weapon be it a rifle or hand gun. I wish the pundits, news media, and politicians would get their term right before trying to tell us how informed they are.

The first real “assault rifle” was introduced to the battlefield in 1944 by the German Wehrmacht. It was developed under orders by Adolph Hitler who wanted a fast firing fully automatic weapon in the hands of special units of the German Army dedicated assaulting enemy position, especially on the Eastern Front. The Sturmgewehr 44, (StG44) literally "storm (or assault) rifle (model of 1944") was an assault rifle developed in Nazi Germany during World War II that was the first of its kind to see major deployment and is considered by many historians to be the first modern assault rifle. The StG44 was known (as are all assault rifles) as “select fire.” This means the shooter has the option to fire one round for each trigger pull, or by throwing the selector switch firing a steady stream of bullets similar to a machine gun. The StG44 had a 30 round capacity magazine and fired a 7.62x33mm cartridge.

Probably the most famous assault rifle ever produced is the Russian AK-47. The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the USSR by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian slang, Kalash.

The original AK-47 was one of the first true "assault rifles" to be manufactured, after theAK-47_type_II_Part_DM-ST-89-01131 original Sturmgewehr 44. Even after six decades the model and its variants remain the most widely used and popular assault rifles in the world because of their durability, low production cost, and ease of use. It has been manufactured in many countries and has seen service with armed forces as well as irregular forces worldwide. The AK-47 was the basis for developing many other types of individual and crew-served firearms. More AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined. Approximately 7.5 million Ak-47s were manufactured and with variants, such as the AK-74, the number climbs to over 100 million.

The first United States Assault rifle was the M-14. The M-14 was replaced by the M-16, a lighter, more reliable rifle. The M16 (officially Rifle, Caliber 5.56 mm, M16) is the United States military designation for the AR-15 rifle adapted for semi-automatic, three-round burst and full-automatic fire. Colt purchased the rights to the AR-15 from ArmaLite, and currently uses that designation only for semi-automatic versions of the rifle. The M-16 fires tAR15he 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. The rifle entered United States Army service and was deployed for jungle warfare operations in South Vietnam in 1963, becoming the U.S. military's standard service rifle of the Vietnam War by 1969, replacing the M-14 rifle in that role. The U.S. Army retained the M-14 in CONUS, Europe, and South Korea until 1970. Since the Vietnam War, the M-16 rifle family has been the primary service rifle of the U.S. armed forces.

Now that we have reviewed the history of the assault rifle let’s look at the difference between the definition of the assault rifle and assault weapon.

Assault weapon is a term which has been given many different meanings. One is that it is any of various automatic and semiautomatic military firearms using an intermediate cartridge. In the United States, there are a variety of statutory definitions of assault weapons in local, state, and federal laws that define them by a set of characteristics they possess, sometimes described as military-style features useful in combat. Using lists of physical features or specific firearms in defining assault weapons in the U.S. was first codified by the language of the now-expired 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. A common usage is to interchange the term with assault rifle, but unlike that term, "assault weapon" has no consistent or specific definition and so is subject to varying definitions for varying purposes, including definitions that include common non-military-style firearms.

The term was most notably used in the language of the now-expired Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act of 1994, more commonly known as the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, which expired in 2004. The federal assault weapons ban specifically prohibited 19 guns considered to be assault weapons. These were all semi-automatic firearms, meaning that they can eject spent shell casings and chamber the next round without additional human action, but (as opposed to automatic firearms) only one round is fired per pull of the trigger. In addition to the 19 weapons specifically prohibited, the federal assault weapons ban also defined as a prohibited assault weapon any semiautomatic rifle with a detachable magazine and at least two of the following five items: a folding or telescopic stock; a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor or threaded barrel (a barrel that can accommodate a flash suppressor); or a grenade launcher. The act also defined as a prohibited assault weapon semi-automatic pistols that weighed more than 50 ounces when unloaded or included a barrel shroud, and barred the manufacture of magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds.

Although the federal assault weapons ban expired in 2004, several states have their own assault weapons bans, which sometimes differ from the former federal law. For example, in California, the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapons Control Act of 1989 bars a number of specific firearm models as well as firearms that have one of a number of features.

The Attributes in assault weapon definitions are:

  • Detachable magazines.
  • Collapsible stocks allow for a rifle to be fitted to the user without requiring having the firearm customized for the individual. So a 200 lb man and his 115 lb wife can use the same firearm.
  • Folding stocks
  • Pistol grips (on rifles) reduce the angle (and thus rotational strain) of the wrist, are popular with physically-impaired shooters who cannot hold a stock with a more traditional angle.
  • Bayonet mounts are often on civilian firearms due to the same parts being used on both government and civilian rifles.
  • Flash suppressors shield the shooter's vision, as well as those beside or behind the user.
  • Threaded barrels mount flash suppressors, compensators and muzzle brakes (both used for aiding recoil management for recoil-sensitive or physically smaller shooters).
  • Barrel mounted grenade launcher mounts are concentric rings around the muzzle.
  • A barrel shroud is a tube around the barrel designed to limit transfer of heat from the barrel to the supporting hand, or to protect a shooter from being burned by accidental contact.
  • Magazines greater than 10 rounds.
  • Semi-automatic, functionality meaning that they can eject spent shell casings and chamber the next round without additional human action, but (as opposed to automatic firearms) only one round is fired per pull of the trigger.

Whether or not the term assault weapon should be used at all and, if so, how the term should be defined and whether firearms defined as assault weapons should be legally restricted more than other firearms are questions subject to considerable debate as part of the arguments of gun politics in the United States.

Prominent gun-control groups which support restrictions on ownership of these firearms include the Brady Campaign and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. Prominent opponents of assault-weapons bans include the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America. Gun-rights and sports shooting groups consider the phrase assault weapon to be a pejorative when used to describe civilian firearms, considering it a politically driven catchphrase aimed to conflate non automatic weapons with actual assault rifles which are already (since 1934) strictly regulated and cannot be obtained by civilians without prior clearance by US federal or state authorities.

By now you may be totally confused, as are our politicians and media masterminds. In the wake of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut the usual suspects, including our president, have made noises about renewing the ban on assault weapons. This ban was a truly bad idea when it was first imposed under the equally feckless Bill Clinton in 1994 as the Orwellian named Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act.

Why was it a bad idea? Because no one knows what constitutes an assault weapon other than it is scary looking.

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, numerous Democrats have called for legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Unfortunately, such bans are empty gestures, certain to offend many law-abiding citizens but highly unlikely to reduce gun violence.

Simply put, so-called “assault weapons” are nowhere near the root of the American violence problem. According to FBI data, of the two-thirds of murders that involve firearms, about 69 percent involve handguns rather than rifles or shotguns of any kind. Most estimates place the contribution of assault weapons to gun crime at around 1 or 2 percent. These numbers should not be surprising: Rifles are difficult to conceal, and a criminal who decides to use a rifle has little reason to prefer an assault weapon over any other semiautomatic option. Contrary to popular myth, assault weapons fire only once for each pull of the trigger; they are not machine guns.

The features that define assault weapons — such as a folding stock or a pistol grip — may look militaristic, but they provide little advantage to someone intent on killing innocent civilians. Adam Lanza used a variant of the AR-15, but he could have achieved the same result with any number of guns commonly employed in hunting and self-defense. As yet there are no reports that Lanza’s Bushmaster .223 (basically a .22 caliber rifle) was outfitted in such a way as to fall under Connecticut’s assault-weapons ban (or under the national ban that expired in 2004), and .223 ammo is not unusually powerful; to the contrary, most deer hunters use larger calibers, and many of them are required to do so by state laws.

Further, statistical research has failed to turn up evidence that the federal ban that expired in 2004 did any good. Columbine occurred while the ban was in effect.

A limit on magazine capacity (which was also part of the federal ban) is by far the more plausible of the proposed measures, seeing that Gabrielle Giffords’s shooter was tackled while reloading his gun. However, other shooters (such as those at Columbine and Virginia Tech) have had no problem reloading, and still others (such as those at the Aurora movie theater and possibly the Oregon mall) have experienced jams while using high-capacity magazines. The net effect of such legislation would almost certainly be statistically indistinguishable from zero.

Both of these measures raise Second Amendment concerns as well. It is difficult to claim there is a legitimate reason to ban assault weapons, given the above-explained irrelevance of the distinction. And reviving the 1994 ban’s ten-round cap on magazine capacity would outlaw the standard versions of popular guns such as the Glock 17, which is likely a violation of the Second Amendment interpretation laid out in the Heller and McDonald cases.

The Left would like to take this tragedy as an opportunity to reform our laws in such a way as to make public shootings significantly less likely. This is might be a noble goal. Bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines will not accomplish it.

Obama with all of his phony rhetoric has punted on this issue by handing the responsibility to come up with recommendations from a committee composed of government masterminds, anti-gun advocates, and those from the gun owner’s lobbies such as the NRA headed up by Joe Biden will get nowhere. Obama is not going to risk his tax and budget plans and his immigration reforms on a debate over gun control. He made his functionary appearances and gave his tearful remarks and now he is done. This is typical Obama.

In a month or so the politicians will see no advantage of staying of the bandwagon of gun control, violent video games and movies and the mental health industry. It’s a no win issue for any of them. As I have said before the real issue is our secular progressive culture. The American citizens have a Constitutional right to firearms and they want them. They are buying them record numbers since the specter of bans and more regulations have been placed in front of them. The intensity of the violence stems not from weapons, but from the secular libertine culture we live in.

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