Full-auto firearms are back in the news again. Thankfully it’s not because of a mass murderer using one (that hasn’t happened since, like, Wounded Knee) but because of the now infamous comment made by RECOIL Magazine’s editor, Jerry Tsai . . .
Once more, with feeling:
Like we mentioned before, the MP7A1 is unavailable to civilians and for good reason. We all know that’s technology no civvies should ever get to lay their hands on. This is a purpose-built weapon with no sporting applications to speak of. It is made to put down scumbags, and that’s it.
In personal correspondence with Alan Gura after the oral arguments in Heller, I berated Mr. Gura for throwing machine guns under the bus (see here for excerpts). His reply to me was something along the lines of, “look, if I had argued the Second Amendment covered machine guns, the Senate would have confirmed three more Justices just so the court could rule against us 12-0.” So what is it about full-auto weapons that inspires so much fear and loathing?
I believe primary culpability can be laid at the feet of the entertainment industry. It’s because of Hollywood that everyone knows that with an AK you can kill 50 bad-guys with a 30-round mag. But in reality, you can’t.
Because of Hollywood, everyone knows that anyone standing in a 60° arc in front of someone firing a full M-4 will be sliced in half. But as Hickok45 demonstrates, deliberately aimed fire is much more deadly than ‘spray’n’pray’. As in 3 hits out of 30 rounds in about 3 seconds on full auto compared to 4 hits in 4 shots in about 4 seconds on semi.
Because of Hollywood, everyone knows that crooks prefer full auto weapons and “civilians” have no use for them.
I did say primary culpability; I believe secondary blame goes to the FedGov in general and ATF specifically. By making machine-guns hugely expensive and hard as hell to get (assuming you live in a state that even allows you to have one) most people don’t have one and don’t know anyone who does. And, as we all know, ignorance and unfamiliarity often translate as fear.
Case in point; I have a permit to carry and often carry openly — all perfectly legal. When I first got my permit I had a number of what a friend calls moments of unusual interest involving the law enforcement community. A certain number of these were the result of a frantic 9-1-1 call. Some were due to cops not being fully up to speed on the law.
In any case . . . moments of unusual interest. I would say that I had at least a dozen interactions with LEOs regarding open carry in the first eighteen months after I got my permit. Since that time (8 years now) I have only had 3 as people have become more accustomed to the idea that not everyone with a gun is a crook.
An additional FedGov/ATF cause is the Nazi concept of “sporting purpose” which was enshrined in the Gun Control Act of 1968. “What’s that” you ask? “Nazi concept?” Indeed, Nazi concept. Briefly, in 1968 Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT) received the translation of the Nazi’s Law on Weapons from the Law Librarian at the Library of Congress. The translation was made from a copy of the original German text which he had supplied to them. It was that 1938 Nazi law which had established that civilian firearms needed to be suitable for hunting and it was the Gun Control Act of 1968 which introduced the “sporting purpose” test to American law.
Unfortunately the idea that firearms must have a “sporting purpose” has now become so engrained in some that even a gun magazine editor and columnist like Jerry Tsai sees it as a litmus test, probably not even recognizing the complete artificiality of such a designation.
In fact, this process has become so arbitrary that back in January of 2011, when the ATF was looking at updating its “sporting purpose” guidelines for shotguns, they actually stated in their report:
In coming to a determination, the working group recognized that a shotgun cannot be classified as sporting merely because it may be used for a sporting purpose.
I can only hope that once the Second Amendment starts getting treated like what it actually is — the highest law of the land — people will recognize that these arbitrary and capricious limits on our rights are unacceptable.
 Yes I know the Gatling gun is not really a machine gun; it was a rhetorical point, deal with it.