To ban or not to ban, assault weapons? Is that really the question?
Okay, so I digressed a little bit into a pun on Hamlet, but seriously, should we really be even considering a ban on assault weapons? Most people couldn’t care less. They don’t own, nor do they care to own, an assault weapon. Most people who do own guns have rifles and shotguns for hunting, a handgun for home protection, collect antique weaponry or are sports shooters who enjoy shooting skeet or competitive shooting. Assault rifles are of no consequence to these people, but should they be?
Yesterday I came into an office in the midst of someone’s heated conversation with others on this subject. Amazingly enough, the person railing against assault rifles was a retired Army Colonel! Her premise was “What would they need it for? The only use of this gun is to kill people. Someone with an automatic assault rifle has a 20 to 1 kill ratio advantage over anyone else without one.” I couldn’t help but interject myself into this conversation. After all, nobody else in the office had the guts to stand up to her and speak their mind.
“That is not the point at all,” I said, “and 20 to 1 kill ratio sounds fair to me.”
“Well, then, what are they good for?” she said, her voice beginning to take on that shrill, squeaky quality of a cornered liberal.
“The point isn’t what they are used for, or what they are good for, or why anyone would want or need one,” I countered. “The point is that either you are able to own a firearm or you are not. If you are able, and trained, and trustworthy enough, and responsible enough, not a criminal, not a lunatic and can own a firearm, then it shouldn’t matter what sort of weapon it is or how much ammunition it can hold, or how many rounds it can fire at a time.”
I went on explain that the purpose of the original founding fathers was not, when writing the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, to provide for people to be able to have guns with which to hunt for food, nor was it simply to have a weapon with which to protect their families within the confines of their own home. (About this time, she was interrupting me saying that there was a vast difference between the single shot muskets of those days and an automatic assault rifle with a 20:1 kill ratio.) I continued to point out that the real purpose of the Fourth Amendment was the founding fathers’ recognition that a fully and well armed population gave the government much to fear. On the other hand, if you disarm the populace and only the government has all the weaponry, it begets tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson said, “When the government fears the people you have liberty. When the people fear the government, you have tyranny.”
While I doubt I will ever need to have an automatic assault rifle, I am glad that someone out there does have them and knows how to use them. I only hope it is the right person and for the right reason.
For more information about this, see my other blog article on the 2nd Amendment and the problem with the mentally ill in our society having access to firearms.