Guns and roses, Part I

OK, there is no Axl Rose in this commentary but there is a lot about guns.

As most of you probably know; I love a good debate. Even in losing, I learn something in the exchange - that is if my debate opponent is informed and honest! What I find depressing in the current dissonant squabble is that it is producing more heat than light! An honest debate starts with facts, proceeds to the problem, and ultimately to a solution. The facts are that innocent people, young and old, are being massacred. The killers are using available weapons such as handguns, rifles, clubs, hammers, knives, shotguns, fists, feet and sundry other things. All of the above are lawfully bought and possessed under the Constitution. States and the federal governments have placed restrictions on automatic weapons and such things as mortars, hand grenades, flame throwers, and explosives. The gun control lobby is not prepared for this debate. They confuse automatic weapons with semi-automatics. Semi-automatics fire one round with each trigger pull. Automatic weapons continue to fire rounds as long as you depress the trigger, until you run out of ammunition or the barrel melts. These weapons are strictly monitored by the ATF and you must go through a lengthy process to own one.

How about the so-called assault weapons? Let's start with the AR-15/M-16 ignorance. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic shoulder-fired rifle that chambers a .223 caliber bullet. This is a smaller caliber than 90 percent of hunting rifles used. It has been widely denigrated as an "assault weapon" because it resembles a military rifle. However a genuine assault rifle, by definition, is a hand-held, selective-fire weapon. This means it can be fired as an automatic or a semi-automatic by moving a selector switch.

The other assault weapon character flaws seem to be: a folding or telescoping stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet mount, a flash suppressor or even the threads to attach one, a detachable magazine and lastly a grenade launcher! None of these cosmetic doodads make it more dangerous! The keen perception and profound intelligence of our lawmakers is impressive!

The total number of these assault weapons, as defined in the Crime Control Act of 1994, amounts to roughly 1.7 percent of all guns in the USA. The ban never affected crime or murder, and sunsetted in 2004. Here are some more facts to help assess the problem.

67 percent of all homicides in 2010 were firearm related.

Less than 4 percent were committed with the so-called assault rifles.

4 percent used shotguns.

68 percent were killed with a handgun.

It is obvious assault rifles were not the weapon of choice. More people were killed with knives, clubs, or beaten to death with bare hands than killed with assault rifles. They are used in about 0.2 percent of all violent crimes and about 1.0 percent in gun crimes. The deadliest mass murders have been by arson or bombs.

Those are the facts; here are some of the problems. The biggest one being the Constitution's Second Amendment: "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

During the Revolution the militia was called the Minutemen.

"... the militia, is a citizen army in which the obligation of the soldier is to defend his city or country." "The moral basis of the militia lay traditionally in the defense of home and hearth, an idea embodied in Anglo-American history by such organizations such as the Home Guard and the National Guard." (Encyclopedia Britannica.)

"In the United States, the militia is defined as all able-bodied men between 18 and 45 years old considered eligible for military service." (Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language)

The stated intent of the amendment was to have an armed citizenry to repel any foreign invaders and to defend themselves and their community from a government that would try to take away their liberty. One argument the gun-grabbers use is that only police and the military should have "assault weapons." It is obvious that they are not informed. All automatic weapons can only be purchased after excruciating background checks and special licensing by the ATF. If that were true, the militia in 1776 would have only been allowed to possess rakes and clubs since the army had muskets.

I'll talk about solutions in Part 2.

Larry Tradlener lives down McElmo Canyon.

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