Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Afraid of Something Because of the Way it Looks?

As is typically the case in today’s society, many opinions about things are very emotional, very “knee-jerk,” and are often very much based on a lack of information. People “fear that which they do not understand,” as the saying goes. So it is true in the case of popular beliefs and (mis)understandings about firearms. Particularly, such is the case when the discussion turns to the so-called “assault” rifles.

The argument I hear from some folks is that “people have no business owning that ‘certain type’ of rifle.” Or “Those ‘types’ of rifles belong on the battle fields, not on our streets.” In fact, didn’t our President-elect say the very same thing in his quest to convince us of his “common sense” approach to guns in his upcoming administration during his campaign?

It has become common place, then, to discriminate against an inanimate object (and the people who own them) solely based on the color or appearance of that object.

Hmmmmm… Seems to me that we have spent many years convincing folks that discrimination based on color and appearance is wrong-thinking, and that we ought to be looking deeper.

Well – the same thing applies to firearms and firearm owners. A firearm is an inanimate object. It isn’t the firearm that commits a bad or irresponsible act. It is the person behind it. And the vast majority of people who legally own firearms are good and decent people who do not commit crimes or irresponsible acts. I said “legally” because it should be a given assumption on your part that criminals are not responsible people.

So now then – about those "certain types" of rifles. I am wondering - what "type" would that be? The type that "looks" a certain way? The type that is deemed "evil" because it is black and has "AR" in the model number? Does it shoot a certain caliber or composition of bullet? Is it fully automatic – capable of discharging hundreds of rounds per second, or does it discharge just one round with a single trigger pull?

Do some people fail to actually look into these questions before beginning their hysterical hand-wringing sessions? Did we as a society somehow fail them by educating them that poorly about firearms, types, and uses?

Since I think that the fearful folks have been miserably misinformed, I'll try to give my opinions and insights into this matter. Take them or leave them, but if you are going to fear and discriminate, at least do so having heard the argument from the other side of the fence.

So what exactly is the hang-up with these so-called “assault” rifles? The way they LOOK? The fact that "AR" makes up the model name? Do they make people that frightened?

Reasons for Owning Them:
Let’s look first at the reason why people own the commonly known “AR” and “AK” rifles that are in use by civilians everywhere. The popular civilian owned AR or AK, first of all, is a rifle, that just happens to have the letters “AR” or “AK” in the model name. I suppose the manufacturers did that to sell a product? Who knows? But people collect various types of rifles for various reasons. They collect them, use them for sport shooting, home defense, varmint hunting, or various other legitimate reasons. Ask a person who owns one what their reasons are. An AR makes a dandy rifle to use for competing in long range shooting competitions. Even if you hooked the law abiding and sane AR owners up to a lie detector, the reason of “using one to mow down all my neighbors” would not even surface.

The popular AR in the civilian home is not an automatic weapon (fully automatic weapons are mostly illegal) and not some horrific killing machine that can make 15 people's heads explode simultaneously. It is a rifle. It is nothing more, nothing less. That said, owning one is legal, and the reasons for owning one, quite frankly, don’t really matter. Owning rifles is protected by the Bill of Rights – 2nd Article of Amendment, to be precise. I’ll say it again: Bill of Rights. Not Bill of “needs,” not the Bill of Wants, and not the Bill of Whatever-frightened-people-want-us-to-have. It is the Bill of Rights. I don’t have to have a reason to own it (although home defense and sport shooting are pretty valid reasons in my mind).


So what about the ammo? My .243 caliber hunting rifle will do more damage to a target than my .223/5.56 caliber AR, but yet the frightened, uninformed, hand-wringing people **think** that my AR, because of the way it LOOKS, is capable of disintegrating a human being in one shot! As a matter of fact, the .223 caliber AR is referred to as a “varmint” rifle. I took both my .243 caliber hunting rifle and my .223 caliber AR to the range recently and did a little test. At 100 yards, the .223 AR put a hole in a plastic jug filled with water, and the plastic jug broke apart, but it did not explode in flames or any other drastic such things. The .243 round from my hunting rifle completely blew apart the water-filled jug. But yet if I showed both rifles to the fearful and uninformed, the AR would strike fear into their hearts, while the hunting rifle probably wouldn’t cause that much concern. Again – it’s the “looks” thing. To see an example of what I am talking about, see the videos below. One video explains the actual truth about what is and is not an “assault weapon,” and the other demonstrates the same types of tests (done on watermelons) which I just described, and using various calibers of bullets.

Are They Automatic Weapons?
The AR-15 and AK-47 rifles, which are legal to own by the way, are military “look-a-likes" but are NOT fully automatic assault rifles. A fully automatic rifle is the ONLY rifle that can be truly defined as an assault rifle. "AR" is just a model number

It All Boils Down to Appearance:
So the main thing we always seem to come back to with folks having a problem with these rifles because of the way they look. The way they LOOK? Puleeze!

Are people afraid of it then because a pistol grip or a black plastic stock makes it more likely to be used in a crime? That is part of it – it’s that “looks” thing again. But do these things add to the ability of the rifle to be used in a crime? I don’t think so. And I will go further by saying that these rifles are fairly expensive. The common criminal most often goes for the cheap handgun that is easy to conceal. These “evil black rifles” (or “EBRs” as we affectionately call them) have been found to have been used in an extremely low percentage of crimes.

Wrapping It All Up:
The only conclusion I can reasonably draw from all the hand-wringing and frightened rhetoric out there is that people are afraid of these rifles because they appear a certain way. I guess I don’t know what to tell you, other than that if you are one of these people, you need to get the facts. Try hooking up with a friend who owns one and have them take you to the range to shoot one. They are not evil, they are not scary, they do not cause people’s heads to explode on contact. They are rifles. Nothing more, nothing less.

For the still frightened folks out there: View these videos and you will see the truth about these firearms.

This is from a police officer in San Jose, Ca:


This video is from the Executive Director of the Firearms Coalition:


Cars with drunk drivers behind the wheel have killed more people than all American rifles combined.

A black rifle only "looks" evil. A black rifle is an inanimate object. It's the man or woman behind it that counts.

Don't be afraid of people just because they own a black rifle. Be afraid of those who would oppose freedom and who oppose what this country stands for.

Be afraid of ignorant, irrational people. Do not be afraid of law abiding, decent people who own firearms, know how to use them, and use them responsibly.

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