Our recent guest blogger, Jerry Thompson has more to say about guns in our society:
“I would like one more attempt to (discuss) whether we should tolerate military-style assault weapons saturating our society under the guise of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Recall that the Second Amendment was written by people accustomed to the flint-lock, single shot musket (original intent), not our current military weaponry (2012 intent).
“As Justice Scalia has brought up, there is another weapon which could, under the current general argument of gun-rights advocates, be considered by the Supreme Court a legal weapon for average, law-abiding citizens to own. That weapon is the shoulder fired rocket-launcher, capable of bringing down aircraft. The conversation is now that the rocket launcher is an extreme example and should not be considered as likely to be approved for the general citizenry. The rapid-fire, high-capacity assault weapon was once considered an extreme example and was banned from the general population’s ownership for a ten-year period (1994-2004). Now, it is no longer considered extreme, although just as extreme in its risk to society. The conversation has wandered back to general gun ownership, not military-style weaponry, because it is easier for the gun advocates to argue under the generalities than the specifics, it seems. As they might argue,
Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Assault weapons don’t kill people by the dozens. People kill people by the dozens.
Rocket launchers don’t kill people by the hundreds. People kill people by the hundreds.
Where do we stop, folks?
Okay, Jerry, good question. He brings up concerns of many citizens; however, he’s operating with skewed information. First, let’s define what assault weapons are. They are functionally indistinguishable from ordinary semiautomatic hunting rifles. They don’t fire more rapidly; they don’t deliver more lethal rounds; and they don’t spray bullets. They just look like military arms. What disqualified a weapon when the assault weapons ban was in effect was looking like a military weapon—pistol grip, bayonet mount, larger magazine.
My friend Jerry’s idea that assault weapons are fully automatic—pull the trigger and bullets go flying—probably comes from TV commentators and certain politicians. Actually, it’s been illegal to buy a machine gun on the open market in this country for the last 80+ years. There are ~250,000 in private hands, all of which required a special permit. Note this—with all those guns in private ownership, there’s no record of a legally owned machine gun being used in a crime during that entire 80-year period.
Moreover, assault weapons are not usually the weapon of choice. Neither of the two worst shooting sprees in U.S. history involved assault weapons. James Huberty, who killed 20 people at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California in 1984, used a shotgun, a pistol and a hunting rifle. George Hennard, who killed 22 people at a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas in 1991, used two ordinary pistols. Still, gun opponents are obsessed about assault weapons.
I believe that Jerry has taken Justice Scalia’s reference to the hand-held rocket launcher in the wrong direction, as well. The Justice did not suggest it would be considered by SCOTUS, only that it conceivably could, since the 2nd Amendment addresses the right to bear arms—“bear” meaning hand-held.
Let me digress to explain why I think supporters of the right to bear arms are adamant about not letting the 2nd Amendment get watered down—even to prohibiting so-called assault weapons: Because they have the same attitude toward bearing arms as the pro-abortionists do about not allowing any restriction on a woman’s right to get an abortion.
How so, you ask? Because both are afraid of “the camel getting his nose under the tent” and beginning to whittle down their position until one group loses their right to bear arms and the other loses their right to unrestricted abortion.
If my supposition is correct, we are only talking about a matter of degree—a few hundred people killed by legally obtained firearms over the past hundred years versus fifty million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade.
Which, I ask you, poses the greater threat to our society?