Back in the early eighties, a group of us on our way to a local bar happened to pass a gun shop. There in the window display was an AR-15, with a price tag of around $500. It caught our eye, and the price attracted a lot of comment along the lines of “that much?” Later on over drinks, the discussion wound around to why anyone would want to buy that rifle. Various uses were brought up, but quickly dismissed. Not so much because it couldn’t be used for those, but because another rifle or shotgun would do the job much better and cheaper. The consensus was that it was a vanity purchase. Were we “anti-gun fanatics?” No, it was because we knew that rifle intimately. We were all in the Army.
The AR-15 is the civilian version of what was the standard rifle for us: The M16A1. We’d had to memorize its specifications, we’d fired it numerous times (it’s a requirement), we’d taken it apart and put it back together. Over and over again. That’s why we knew all about it. We were also from similar backgrounds. We were all “country boys,” who had grown up around guns, and had done our share of hunting and shooting growing up. Most of us still owned guns, and went hunting. That’s why none of us could come up with a realistic reason to own an AR-15. Every potential use amounted to the equivalent of using a screwdriver as a chisel. Yes, it can be done, but it doesn’t work as well as a chisel.
That’s still my opinion today. There’s no good reason to own one or any other weapon like it, except for vanity. Sure, it’s fun to go to a range and shoot it. Heck, I liked it too, and I really liked firing automatic weapons. But that isn’t enough to make me want to buy one. You can think you’re “tough” and play soldier, which seems to be the core behind much of the “defend freedom!” group. As Josh Marshall put it:
You could certainly make the argument that all sorts of awful things might have happened if we didn’t have hobbyists at gun shows buying military grade weapons and body armor and stuff. But that’s akin to magical thinking.
Maybe my mobile devices are keeping the government in bounds too. I might say water skiing or rock music have stemmed the tide against tyranny. But you’d probably say I was crazy.
It is a bizarre fantasy, I believe of comparatively new vintage, and one that holds pretty much the entire actual history of a free people in some combination of ignorance and contempt. It’s the crazy black helicopter nonsense from the 1990s just slightly updated.
He’s right, and it’s time to stop the bullshit. Besides the fact that the few “insurrections” in American history have met with miserable failure, the various “militia groups” – who do not fall under the legal standard of what constitutes a militia – that have managed to get themselves to the point of breaking the law have been quickly rounded up and sent to jail. Usually after a good number of them try to run away from the police. The idea that they’d stand up to the National Guard or the active military? Laughable.
There is absolutely no good reason someone needs a rifle with a large capacity magazine which can fire rounds as fast as you can pull the trigger. I had someone today try to tell me that they could be “used for hunting deer.” Besides the fact that you can’t in this state, a 30.06 or a 12 gauge shotgun with a slug or buckshot works better. Not only that, but if you can’t hit it with your first shot, you’re not going to hit it with the next 20 or 30 rounds. That’s always assuming that your state allows you to use it for hunting, and the odds are … it doesn’t. It turns out that many states have regulations stating what weapons can be used for what game, and generally the “assault rifles” don’t meet them. “Varmint hunting?” Seriously, a .22 is better at it, and cheaper. Like the “deer” example, you’re still not going to need to rapidly throw 2o or 3o rounds at what you’re shooting at. Every “example” I’ve heard falls into the “using a screwdriver as a chisel” category.
I haven’t addressed handguns, but many of the justifications fall under the same “serious bullshit” category, with healthy doses of wishful thinking and fantasy. Everyone likes to think of themselves as that hero in the westerns, or Dirty Harry. The guy who calmly, coolly assesses the situation, pulls his gun out and accurately takes out the armed bad guys, while not killing any innocent bystanders. Real life isn’t like that. People freeze, there’s an adrenaline rush, innocent bystanders tend to not get out of the way, and the bad guys aren’t always conveniently not shooting back or standing with nothing behind them. Add more “armed civilians” to the mix? Increase the likelihood of a truly impressive body count, most of whom will be the result of “friendly fire.”
The man accused of shooting a 17-year-old Wolfson High School student to death Friday night at a gas station during an argument over loud music waived his first court appearance in Jacksonville Wednesday.
But while Michael David Dunn wasn’t in court, the 45-year-old Melbourne man’s attorneys were as he was officially charged with second-degree murder in the shooting death of Jordan Russell Davis.
Dunn’s attorney, Robin Lemonidis of Melbourne, stated her client “absolutely” saw someone with a shotgun in the red sport-utility vehicle next to his car at the convenience store that night.
They didn’t have one. But he was armed, and had a permit. So he assumed he saw a gun. That’s a recent example, just last month. It follows on another aspect of carrying a gun. Having one escalates the situation, and makes you act differently. You can end up in situations you wouldn’t have been in had you not been armed:
Yes, he was licensed to carry it, but rather than waiting for the police, he made a decision to confront a young man walking the streets. In other words, he put himself into a situation where this could have ended up very badly for him. Why? Well, he had a gun, “just in case.” Would he have made that decision if he hadn’t been carrying a gun? Unlikely.
So what can we do about gun violence? Laws banning certain types of weapons are a start, but they’ve had mixed results. We need to change ourselves, the culture we live in. To stress the responsibility of gun ownership, what used to be “the norm:”
I grew up around guns. They were part of the culture. Almost every adult I knew had them, and used them. But you know what? Not a single one of them would have dreamed of bringing a gun to church, to public meetings, to schools, or to the local bars. It just wasn’t done. You didn’t bring a loaded weapon into the house, either. It was all common sense to them. Guns were tools they used, dangerous, and to be taken seriously.
That’s the cultural problem. What used to be common sense isn’t anymore. Too many people want “the right” but don’t want the responsibility. They’re not taking them seriously. It isn’t normal to need to carry a gun everywhere with you. Unless you live in a crime-ridden lawless hellhole, in which case you really should be after your politicians to do something. If you’re not in that place, then you need to get over your fear. It shouldn’t be acceptable to bring a gun into churches, public meetings, schools, bars, courthouses, or other places like that. We need to recognize that there are legitimate reasons to have guns, but we also need to recognize that there is a cultural responsibility that goes with ownership. We don’t need to have every kind of gun in the world, and we need to make sure that the ones we do have are handled responsibly. Most of all, we need to stop bullshitting ourselves about guns.