Jun 14

A Quick Note on the Orlando Tragedy

I honestly regret having to type the following words, and indeed I hoped that the recent events would not cause me to do so. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of ignorance and misrepresentation that I’ve seen from those against the 2nd Amendment compels me to write a counterpoint in the hope of enlightening at least a few on the issues we face in modern society. So, let’s get this over with.

As posted on Facebook, what happened in Orlando was a tragedy. There is no excuse for the actions of this murderer, nor any others who have committed such atrocities in the past, or will go on to do the same in the future. Taking the lives of innocent people, even if you vehemently disagree with them, is an abominable act. I feel as though many are quick to blame 2nd Amendment activists as callous when they rush to defend our heritage and rights. But why do they do this? Because we know that every tragedy will be used to push an agenda. Orlando is sadly no different in this respect. We have already heard from prominent politicians, and even our own president, that our “inability to act” (on gun control) has caused this issue, or that if we could only adopt a more European/Australian style of firearm legislation, we would have prevented such a disaster. Popular magazines have suggested a repeal of the 2nd Amendment, or mocked the concept that we care more about firearms (such as the AR-15) than we do about human life.

All of this is poppycock. Yes. Poppycock.

Do you see how quickly things turn from the tragedy and the murder, into a crusade that conveniently fits political agendas? That’s not even getting into the blame being placed on conservatives and Christians as a whole, which I will not be getting into in this article. That’s a whole other can of nightcrawler-sized worms. We’re just going to focus on the firearms today.

I am certain that I haven’t heard every single claim or statement that has been made in the last few days, but I would like to offer an explanation and/or rebuttal of what I have heard, in no particular order.

  1. AR-15’s are weapons of war! They don’t belong on our streets! Civilians don’t need them!

    I honestly hear this one a lot, even before the last few days. The AR-15 is the poster child of the anti-gun movement, and for no other reason than that it’s black and looks scary. No military on earth has EVER used the AR-15. Why? Because it is NOT designed for military use. It is NOT “high-powered”. It does NOT stand for “Assault Rifle”. It is NOT fully automatic. It can NOT be easily converted to fully automatic. The AR-15 (Armalite Rifle) is a civilian version of the M-16. Civilian. As in, not for military use. It does not have a select-fire capability and is therefore not an “assault rifle”. What that means is that you pull the trigger once, and one bullet comes out. To shoot bullet #2, you must press the trigger a second time. I have seen several comments from politicians and anti-gun fanatics talking about how the AR is able to fire 700 rounds per minute, or kill hundreds of people in seconds.Absolute. Bunk.

    IMG_20150209_115954136Here are a couple of real weapons of war. And I collect them!

    If your trigger finger can fire that quickly (and the gun doesn’t melt – remember that guns get hot when fired several times), then you’re about to set some new world records. Do you want to push to ban all semi-automatics? I’ve seen this, too. You would effectively ban nearly every single handgun in the United States. All of them (save for a very, very tiny percentage) are semi-automatic. Even revolvers can fit into that definition if you’re not being technical, which we know that the anti-firearm followers and politicians would most certainly not be. Remember “the shoulder thing that goes up”? I find it to be both sad and entertaining. (hint: barrel shrouds have been standard since the 19th century: they protect the shooter’s hands from a hot barrel) But I digress.

    The AR-15 is a low-powered rifle. Granted, rifles are always more powerful than pistols. They have a longer barrel with which to build velocity (more power), and most of them fire bigger bullets. However, the .223 caliber which is used by the AR-15 is very, very small. I wouldn’t want to get shot by any rifle, but if I had to choose…well, I’d choose the smallest one available. Short of a .22, that’d be the AR-15. They are not powerful firearms when compared to nearly every other rifle on the market.

    The AR-15 is America’s most beloved rifle, which is why it’s most frequently targeted any time the push for a ban rears its ugly head. I don’t personally own an AR-15 (never cared for their looks or caliber), but after this…I likely will.

  2. It is far too easy to buy a gun in this country!

    Again, this one gets tossed around quite a bit even when there’s not a national crisis. Every gun purchase you make from a gun store requires a background check to be done on you. Every. Single. Time. No exceptions. If you don’t pass the background check, you don’t get the gun. Also, the federal agencies are aware that you failed the check, since they perform the check and decide if you pass and/or fail.

    But, what about buying guns online? There’s no background check there!

    Yes, there is. You buy a gun online. You pay for it. Then you must submit a valid FFL and/or have the FFL holder (a gun shop) get in touch with whomever you just bought the gun from online. Once your FFL (gun shop) sends in their paperwork, the gun gets shipped…to THE GUN SHOP. That means not you. Them. They’ll call you (usually) when the firearm shows up. You have to physically go down to the gun shop and…guess what? Fill out a 4473 (a background check)! If you fail…well, see above. 🙂

    But, what about parking lot sales? No background checks there!

    You’re right. If I want to sell you a gun from my collection, we can agree to meet up somewhere and make the deal. That being said, there are a few caveats. I cannot sell you anything if I am aware that you’re a felon or going to use the firearm for malicious intent. Even if I so much as SUSPECT you may be one of those two things, I legally cannot make the sale. Most people selling guns face-to-face will ask for a driver’s license or a concealed carry permit (which you need a background check to obtain). To top it off, the percentage of criminals who obtain their guns via private transfer is so small that it is statistically irrelevant. That was the report from either the FBI or the CDC study done a few years ago: I can’t remember which. But you’re free to go check.

    There are a couple of exceptions to this rule, however. If you possess an 03 FFL (Curio and Relics License), which requires a thorough background check and local law enforcement notification, you CAN have firearms shipped to your front door IF they are either 50 years old or greater, OR they are specifically on the ATF’s list of acceptable curios. I have never heard of someone using a C&R gun to commit a crime. I have, however, heard of people defending themselves with them.

    The last exception is antiques. Antique firearms made before 1898 are allowed to be shipped anywhere without a background check. So are black powder guns, since they’re not considered firearms by law. But, again, I’ve never heard of anyone using a Springfield Trapdoor or a Snider Rifle in criminal engagements. I did once read about a guy using an 1858 Colt Army to defend his house, though.

    I suppose it’d work in a pinch.

  3. Repeal the 2nd Amendment! We don’t need it today! The founders were talking about muskets that barely functioned!

    Let’s get one thing straight: muskets functioned just fine. That’s a common myth. In 1776 the Brown Bess musket was the “assault weapon” of the day: the deadliest implement of war ever devised. And yet, the Founders were so concerned that government would try to take away the people’s’ freedoms that they wrote the 2nd Amendment RESTRICTING the government from doing just that. Yes, that’s right – the Bill of Rights is a list of restrictions against the government. It doesn’t create the rights: it assumes they are already present. The original intent of the 2nd allowed cannon and warships, too! It was written so that we the people would be on even footing with the government regulars if it ever came to that.

    IMG_20151222_105010390This musket was once the height of arms technology. Even back then, you could own it.

    Also, if you ever do happen to repeal the 2nd Amendment, you then have to deal with the 4th Amendment (get warrants on EVERYONE and EVERY PLACE) and the 10th Amendment (all powers not given to the federal government go to the states). I think it’s 39 of the 50 states that have a 2nd Amendment-like clause in their constitutions, so you’d really only remove the 2nd Amendment in a handful of states. Guns would still be legal in most of the country.

    But the founding fathers’ never could have imagined the kinds of weapons we have today!

    Yes, they could have, and they did. Ever heard of the Puckle Gun? Or the Giradoni Air Rifle (carried by Lewis and Clark)? Both of these had high rates of fire, and not only were the founder’s aware of them, but they were fans! They were also incredibly educated individuals. They had seen technology advance and were well-versed in their history. To say they never gave any thought to how deadly firearms could grow is an asinine statement. Does this mean that the free speech only covers quill and parchment? That’s the kind of argument being presented.

    But, come on! Do you really think that you and your one little rifle could beat the U.S. military?

    Nope. Not one on one. I’m so insignificant as an individual that they’d barely notice me, if at all. However, with 315 million firearms currently in the U.S., being put to use by about a third to a half of the population? Let’s crunch some numbers.

    We have a standing military of somewhere around 1.2 million troops. A conservative estimate of firearms owners is about 100 million. Assuming this happened in a vacuum, those odds are incredibly stacked in the civilian militia’s favor.

    But wait, there’s more!

    Most military men and women would uphold their oath to the constitution and refuse to fire on their fellow Americans. So now the civilian militia has more than just regular old semi-autos. Of course, bear in mind that a decent portion of the civilian militia would be made up of veterans with little to lose.

    But, maybe we still couldn’t win. And that’s okay. You don’t have to win. The British, if they had really wanted to, could have crushed the Colonists in the 1770’s. But the cost was too high. Same situation with the Soviets in Afghanistan. The U.S. in Vietnam. If you take away an opponent’s willingness to fight; make the cost too high to be worth it, they tend to pack up and go away. That’s how you win.

    But, it’s all hypothetical, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.

  4. The NRA is to blame!

    No. The National Rifle Association of America is made up of members who pay dues. They represent those members (of which I believe there’s about 5-6 million). The NRA has developed and continues to implement the Eddie Eagle program nationwide: a program that teaches kids how to be safe if they find a gun…such as not touching it, and finding an adult. The NRA has been different things at different times depending on their member base (they even fought against Jim Crow laws, and argued that former slaves should have the ability to defend themselves against the Ku Klux Klan back in the day), but they have always been first and foremost about legal firearms ownership and responsibility. If you make a habit of following the money, you’ll find that the NRA spends FAR less money than many of the anti-firearms groups. They are not the big, evil, politician-corrupting influence that they are often painted to be. But, it’s easy to hit the biggest target, I suppose.

  5. Anyone on the no-fly list and/or under FBI investigation shouldn’t be able to buy a gun!

    So, you feel that people should be stripped of their rights without due process? What a wonderful idea!

    The no-fly list is so nebulous that children have ended up on it. There is no criteria to be placed on the no-fly list, and there is no appeal process to be removed from it (unless you’ve got those kinds of connections). Your name can be entered for any reason, which you’ll never get to learn about, even if you inquire. It’s a terrible system that is absolutely unconstitutional. Would you support it if it took away your 1st Amendment rights?

  6. Gun violence is an epidemic! <insert country here> banned guns and their gun crime went down!

    That makes sense. Fewer guns, fewer gun crimes. But what about overall violent crime? Did that go up? I think you’ll typically find that it did. Compound that with differences in crime reporting, different population sizes, different cultures, different legal systems, etc. and you’ll begin to understand that comparing country A to country B isn’t nearly as simple as you can make it sound. This could be an entire article unto itself. We’ll cover the very basics.

    There are somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 firearm-related deaths each year in the U.S. Scary number, right?

    The vast majority of those are suicides (again, another topic). I believe the actual homicide number comes out to be roughly 8,000 per year. Of those, most are committed with handguns, rather than rifles. But that’s still a scary number, no?

    The vast majority of that 8,000 is gang-on-gang crime. Meaning, unlawful people using unlawful firearms (that they didn’t get from the gun shop, internet, or private sale) to do unlawful things. Cut that out of the equation, and you find that the U.S. has a very, very low crime rate among law-abiding gun owners (which 99.9% tend to be). The firearms community does a very good job of policing its own when it comes to gun safety and responsibility. It is not a joke, and firearms owners take it very seriously.

    So what about mass shootings? Well, those still happen. But they don’t happen nearly as much as you think they do, and the statistical likelihood of being in one is astronomically low. But, one word: media. Oh, and two other words: Political agenda.

  7. We need to restrict ammunition!

    If you can’t ban guns, ban ammunition, am I right? But wait…that’s infringement, isn’t it? Drat! Darn those pesky founders and their words!

    IMG_4528-001Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful.

    In all seriousness, you can restrict magazines as much as you want. It just means the next shooter will have 3 10-round magazines instead of 1 30-round (hint: magazines take about a second to swap). More than likely, they’ll still have their 30-round magazines because they didn’t obey the law that made them illegal. Because…you know…that’s what criminals do. Instead, you’ll just limit any lawfully-armed citizen and put them at a disadvantage when they attempt to engage the shooter.

    Even if you restrict the amount of ammunition people can buy in a period of time (silly), they’ll stockpile over time OR get it…surprise, surprise…ILLEGALLY! Ammunition is not in any way tracked, nor is there a workable system for tracking it. Even so, the logistics of doing so are enormous, and I’m getting tired of writing this article.

I hope that clears a few things up for you, dearest reader. I tried my best…well, mostly. What happened in Orlando was a tragedy, and regardless of how you feel about it, I think we can agree that everyone has a right to life. That’s why I’ll continue to keep and bear arms, every day, so that I can do what I can to protect mine and others’.

Stay safe.

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