Read part one here.
By PA Deacon
“But they’re weapons of war!”
Many conversations on civilian firearms seem to begin or end with an emphatic yet uninformed statement for more gun-control. How do you respond to these claims by the poorly informed or malicious?
Don’t get emotional. Logic, constitutional law, modern history, and data can debunk these sorts of claims. Radical anti-gun groups base their claims on wrong information and mislead the uninformed with emotional triggers. For instance: the AR-15 is a weapon of war and, thus, should be banned for civilians.
Instead, respond with demands for clarity. What is an AR-15? Why do you think its only purpose is war? What makes it different from other firearms? The Anti-Defense League should be forced to define their terms before we are asked to apologize for our rights.
Defend All the Rights
My views on the Second Amendment were anchored in my support for constitutionally protected rights that preexisted our government. I wasn’t an avid shooter, hunter, or owner of an impressive firearms collection. So why did I care?
There are plenty of things I defend, but don’t practice day-to-day. I am not a journalist or public figure, but the First Amendment is crucial to our republic. I’ve never been arrested, but the Sixth Amendment right to a fair public trial by jury is vital to prevent unwarranted and biased prosecutions by government. The Second Amendment is no different. I didn’t yet own a firearm, but I defended the Second Amendment.
This brings us back to the claim that the purchase of ‘weapons of war’ should be prohibited by the average American civilian. Dismantling the Anti-Defense League requires an understanding of the laws governing firearms and a general knowledge of the mechanics of firearms to educate the misinformed – or at least quiet the fanatics.
What I should have known years ago is that most Americans can’t even afford a full-auto rifle. But I didn’t. I should have known about the Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA) which banned the civilian ownership of new machine guns. But I didn’t. I should have known all the steps that an American needs to go through in order to purchase a firearm. Again, I didn’t. I should have known there is no gun show loophole. An FFL needs to run a background regardless of where the purchase is made. As you can guess, I didn’t.
There are many questions that I need to be able to answer:
• What does “high capacity” magazine mean?
• Can felons own guns?
• Should an abusive spouse be able to purchase a firearm?
• What about the mentally ill?
• What are the basic calibers and what are they used for?
• Does AR stand for Automatic Rifle?
Few conversations on firearms ever get beyond these basic questions. Being able to answer them will prepare you tremendously as an advocate or owner.
Without having answers to these questions, it was easy for discussions to become heated and, ultimately, go nowhere. When facts are in short supply, emotion fills the gap. The “common sense” gun control narrative wins when emotions stand in for facts and confidence.
The Uphill Climb
The real spark for me to get informed was that it seemed like anyone with a voice was arguing for more (gun) control over my life. If I was going to take this seriously, I had to educate myself.
I didn’t know where to start. Friends recommended a few sources – magazines and blogs. But I always thought that most of those outlets assumed the reader had too much knowledge. Without a basic understanding of the different calibers and types of firearms available, reading about handguns, long-guns, or calibers didn’t make much sense.
So, I stepped back and started with the mainstream press. That wouldn’t teach me about bolt-carrier groups or caliber comparisons, but it was an entry point.
It worked. I started asking important questions about firearms laws and the firearms themselves. Thanks to a friend and a link to a video about the National Firearms Act, I was about to go down a YouTube rabbit hole.