12 August 2012

An Open Letter to My NRA Supporter Friends about Assault Weapons

Dear NRA friend, 

Please remind me again exactly why it should be legal to manufacture and sale assault weapons in the US? 


I'm not trying to pick a fight. But for the life of me, I just can't figure this one out. I'd like to understand your rationale.

In the interest of full disclosure I will admit that I don't like guns. I don't own one and likely never will. I have no interest in shooting anyone or anything. I don't even know how. I do, however, respect the 2nd Amendment and your right to own a gun to protect your family from me if I choose to break into your house or to go hunting turkeys in Tennessee or moose in Montana if that floats your boat. 

But do you really need an AR-15 assault rifle that can hold 100 rounds (the kind James Holmes legally bought and used to open fire in a crowded Colorado theater recently) or an AK-47 (the kind that’s being legally bought at gun shows along the border and smuggled to Mexico to arm drug warlords)?

Weapons that were intended for the military to kill as many people as quickly as possible? Weapons of mass destruction?

Yes, you have the right to bear arms. But civilizations evolve. The need for arms is very different in the suburbs in 2012 than it was on the frontier in the 1700's. I bet our founding fathers are rolling around in their graves at how you guys interpret the 2nd Amendment to justify your obsession with weapons.

Should Kroger have an Atomic Bomb aisle or your corner Handy Pantry sell hand grenades? Of course not. Reasonable restrictions on the sale of weapons isn't a radical, socialist position.  Or a threat to your rights as an American citizen.  Banning assault weapons seems like a reasonable restriction to me. 

Do I think it is a panacea? No. I agree with you that the bad guys will always come up with tools with which to carry out their bad deeds. But I do think we should at least make it a little harder for them. I think an inadequate and woefully underfunded mental health system in the US is equally to blame for the kind of violent acts we've been seeing lately (but that's a topic for another day). 

To be honest, it doesn't really make me feel so safe to think that good guys like you have an arsenal in your attic.  I think there are a lot of vigilante wannabes out there itching to dust off the oozie, which is kinda scary to me. Everybody has the potential to snap one day, ya know. 

But let’s be honest. The gun lobby in DC is untouchable. You’ll win this one.

Still, I want to understand your perspective. Tell me something good that comes from this type of ammo being in the marketplace? What's the benefit? I'm honestly having a hard time coming up with one. 

Fire away.


Stephen Raburn (baffled pacifist)


DJ in Quebec said...


I'll try to help you with the rationale. I'm not a member of your NRA. I am in, as they say, "The Gun Culture".

Let's start with the term "Assault Rifle". To paraphrase your Supreme Court Justice Stewart Potter "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of [guns] I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know [one] when I see it."

A definition long on emotion, short on particulars.
Particulars like the many firearms out there that would slip past an assault weapon ban. Guns that have the same mechanical performance characteristics as the AR15, but would look to the public's eyes to be... normal. Remington and Winchester both make several 'hunting rifle' .223 semi autos. As do many other manufacturers. These guns do not look like assault rifles, but they certainly can perform like one.

You find Holmes' 100-round magazine to be unjustifiable. But your country licenses the ownership and use of fully automatic weapons. You can even bring your own to approved ranges in states like Nevada so everyone can be like Governors Schwarzenegger and blaze away at imaginary bad guys and aliens.

To counter, I might say "why do you need any CARS that goes 100 miles an hour?" Speeding cars kill far more people than high capacity magazines. But we have the right to own any car. You can even bring your own hot rod to approved tracks in many states so everybody can be Earnhart Jr and fly around the track at above street legal speeds. Because, like 'blazing away' at a target of The Predator, its fun, and its safe, when done in a responsible way.

It was in fact reported the 100-round mag jammed, as they are prone to do. That mag failure may have actually saved lives if he wasn't also carrying a Remington 870 pump action shotgun. The 870 is possibly the most popular shotgun in the USA with hunters. The ubiquitous "duck gun". When his assault rifle failed, he turned to his pump action shotgun, and continued firing, reportedly wounding and killing more victims.

Your 'Beltway Sniper' terrified the entire DC region. Firing single shots into the victims, albeit from an assault rifle. Something ANY rifle could have done. I hesitate to also mention that during that period, the overall murder rate in DC actually went DOWN.

In a city near me a man in a minivan plowed through an entire group of cyclists, running over and horribly injuring five of them. So we ban minivans? Ban cyclists on the road? Or maybe just finding out what caused this man's road rage, before it manifests again. I understand you want to look at "The Black Guns" as the cause, and that getting rid of them would be the cure. And it would be so easy, with the swish of the robot-pen on a fresh Executive Order.

But sadly, it doesn't seem that simple. The root is deeper, more insidious, and defies simple cures. People are killing people and we can't seem to stop it, and its the natural human response to want to do *something*, *anything*, to make this sickness go away.

But I tell you I know banning guns is not the answer.

And I will also tell you I don't know what is.

Stephen Raburn said...

Thank you for the thoughtful comments, DJ. You make excellent points. I don't know what the answer is, either. I appreciate the honesty. By the way, I think it's stupid and irresponsible for cars to be able to go 100 mph(I'd probably ban that too). :) -Stephen