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Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor - March 7, 2018

By Ron Healy

March 7, 2018

In response to the Letter to the Editor "We Have Met the Enemy", printed in the February 28, 2018 edition:

“Only Thing We Have To Fear Is Fear Itself”-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

First of all, the members of the NRA had nothing to do with initiating the horrific acts that have taken place in Las Vegas, NV; Sutherland Springs, TX; Columbine, CO; Newtown, CT; Parkland, FL; Ohio State University, OH; etc., etc. (they did however play an integral role in stopping them or reducing the carnage in some cases) And frankly I resent the fact that millions of innocent Americans would even be vindicated in such a biased and factually unsupported idea.

“Assault Weapon”, just saying it sounds menacing doesn’t it? That’s the whole idea. According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review: “Prior to 1989, the term "assault weapon" did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of "assault rifles." In layman’s terms, an assault weapon is any tool used to impart bodily harm upon another person for the purpose of prevailing in a given situation. By this definition, an assault weapon could be anything in an array of items from a 2x4 to a kitchen knife, to a derringer, to a Springfield 1903A3, to… yes even the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) often referred to as the AR-15. So in reality, California anti-gun legislators in their efforts to ban some semi-automatic rifles in that state during the 1980s created the term “Assault Weapon”. When someone refers to an AR-15 style rifle as an assault weapon or assault rifle, they likely support the banning of these particular firearms; they don’t understand their sporting use, or quite possibly both.

So why is there all of this hatred toward one specific type of firearm anyway? Here is a hint. According to a 1988 report by the Violence Policy Center, one of the largest anti-gun lobby groups: “Handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons ... are a new topic. The weapons' 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—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.” In other words it is a vital first step in disarming the public, and they’ll take it anyway they can get it.

The AR-15 may indeed look similar to a military rifle, most notably the M16/M4 family of rifles. But they differ in that they function just like any other semi-automatic civilian sporting firearm, firing only one round with each pull of the trigger. Civilian sporting rifles have evolved from their military predecessors since the 19th century and this modern sporting rifle platform simply follows that tradition. Actually we can thank the military for many advances in civilian applications such as GPS and satellite communications that led to cell phones being so prolific.

Really what all of the hatred for this modern sporting rifle really boils down to is fear. People are naturally afraid of that which they don’t know. We can be pretty certain that it’s not about facts or statistics because according to the FBI, all rifles combined (including the AR-15) are used in less than 2% of gun crimes. In fact handguns kill 22.43 times more people than rifles of all designs combined. Most people who demonize the AR-15 simply do not know. They’re often nice people, but they just don’t know. More than that, they don’t know what they don’t know. These folks then are by definition, simply ignorant of the facts. That’s unfortunate, but it is understandable. Still others however are actually willfully ignorant. They likely know that there is factual information that completely contradicts what they have chosen to believe, but they just refuse to consider it. Willful ignorance however is not just unfortunate, its harmful and wrong. Particularly when it is used as a basis for infringing upon the rights (any rights) of other people.

The National Rifle Association (NRA) is America's longest-standing civil rights organization. Together with the National Association for Gun Rights (NAGR), they provide a unified voice for more than 9.5 million members who are not bent on killing, but rather choose not to be a victim by relying solely upon civil authorities to protect them in unforeseen circumstances. These organizations did indeed lobby congress not to pass the “Assault Weapons Ban” (AWB) in the early 1990’s but were unsuccessful. 10 years (the prescribed length of the ban) later however after there was undisputed proof that the AWB had no impact on crime, these organizations simply presented the FBI crime statistics and were able to prevent the ridiculous ban from being reinstated. Just recently President Trump stated that when someone is accused of being a threat to themselves or someone else that he thinks that law enforcement should just go in and take the guns away and then determine weather the threat is credible or not. But after a meeting with the NRA who pointed out that he cannot simply circumvent the 4th Amendment based on unsupported accusations without lawful due process he has rightfully thought better and rescinded that statement. Who knows where we would have been without the NRA looking out for our Constitutional Rights.

Getting back to the AR-15/AR-10 modern sporting rifle platform, which when viewed functionally is accurate, rugged, reliable, extremely versatile, and serves target shooters and hunters exceedingly well. It functions better in adverse weather conditions and extreme environments than other more traditional platforms. Most people don’t understand the true versatility of these rifles because they are under the understanding that they are all chambered in .223 Remington or 5.56x45 (these two different chamberings of course are no doubt the most popular). This couldn’t be further from the truth however, as a simple online search will reveal that the AR-15/AR-10 platform can be chambered in over 60 different chamberings with rimfire, centerfire, and even shotgun options from which to choose. It is also relatively simple to change from one chambering to another just by swapping a few components in most cases. This gives the owner the ability of turning one gun into several within minutes. When chambered in the popular .17 or .22 caliber rimfire options they differ only in appearance from the ever-popular Ruger 10/22 and serve as an efficient plinking option. When chambered in one of many possible small caliber chamberings (including .223/5.56) they can be a much more effective and every bit as accurate an option than the traditional bolt action rifle for varmint shooting. In fact Predator Magazine claims that the AR-15 platform is hands down widely considered to be the most versatile predator-hunting platform. When chambered in any of the popular medium to large bore cartridges, the AR is a potent big game rifle capable of quick follow-up shots for a more humane kill than even the bolt-action rifle in some cases. So in the end these modern sporting rifles are not all that different than other hunting rifles of the same caliber that have been around for several years and in many cases can be a better choice.

Fear causes irrational behavior, which is no secret. The Department of Justice surmises that any fact-based analysis of an AWB would quickly reveal how ineffective it would be, having no measurable effect on crime. But people want something to change that would prevent a horrible mass murder so badly, that they are willing to believe the anti-gun rant. Realistically however no law can do that. After all, the worst school massacre in U.S. history, which took place in Bath Township, MI, didn’t even involve a firearm at all. When all is said and done, people will kill people if they really want to. It’s horrifyingly unfortunate, but there is no simple end all-cure all answer without divine intervention. But people just simply don’t want to hear that. So politicians looking for reelection would rather show that they at least did something, even something as ludicrous enacting another gun ban, in order to placate the masses. My hope is that Americans as a majority don’t let the fear of something they know very little about rule their train of thought without first checking their facts.

Let’s face it, no gun law is or ever will be effective if those in the position of authority do not act upon the credible threats, or simply fail to file the correct documentation to preclude those who should not possess a firearm from doing so.

Ron Healy

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