As Illinois Senate President John Cullerton and California Senator Dianne Feinstein ready their assault weapons ban bills, columnist Robert Treadway at kyforward.com tries to explain why AR-15s deserve civilian oblivion. “The AR-15 and its variants are fundamentally different from any other rifle on the market: It is light, effective, fast and easy to use to the point that it is in a different category of rifle than those coming before. The AR-15, far more than any other weapon, is easy for an inexperienced shooter to learn to use, because of its light recoil and pistol grip, and the fact that its light recoil makes firing multiple rounds without breaking sight far easier than firing a .30 calibre rifle. It is easy for an inexperienced marksman to fire many rounds from an AR-15 without fatigue from the recoil; even the experienced shoulder gets sore after just a few shots from a .30 calibre rifle.” You know where this is going . . .
Very few heavy calibre rifles have been used in shooting situations such as the one in Newtown, and it is unlikely that they ever will be. Most school shooters are young and inexperienced marksmen. Most inexperienced shooters are not capable of accurately firing large-calibre weapons outside a rifle range, and the noise, recall and muzzle flash of a .30 calibre cartridge are often as frightening to the shooter as to the target.
However, the AR-15 and its variants were specifically designed to be used by an inexperienced shooter, and to be more pleasant to fire than the older battle rifles they replaced. And the design succeeded very well. Now the question is what to do with that success.
Buy it? Use it to defend oneself against all threats foreign and domestic? Own it as an expression of your Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms? Or . . . ban it? Confiscate it? Remove it from the civilian population?
You can feel that Treadway, a Harvard Law School grad and senior policy analyst at Kentucky First Strategies (a “full-service political consulting, lobbying and governmental relations firm”), wants to go there. But he wimps out.
Whatever Congress does concerning assault rifles will be criticized, and one of the primary criticisms will be that assault weapons are being unfairly treated differently than normal sporting weapons. I hope I’ve shown that, while that may be true theoretically, it is not true in the real world, which is the place these shooting occur. Whether Congress regulates, bans or merely criticizes these weapons, we need to understand that they are fundamentally different than any weapons that have come before.
Treadway is wrong. Fundamentally. But clever. Which is scarier than any scary black rifle I’ve ever seen. Just sayin’ . . .