Learn to hate the assault rifle

Nearly a century ago, the machine gun conquered the battlefield by plowing through waves of helpless infantry. The assault rifle is the mechanical descendant of this weapon. But this gun never remained in the sphere of warfare. It found its way to our neighborhoods, and a new kind of fear was born. Well, it’s time to conquer our fears.

Firearms are an important part of our national heritage. But guns have also amplified the level of violence in our country. I support our right to keep and bear arms, but not in the context of assault weapons. Those are heinous war machines. No matter how complex the subject, they must be identified for their destructive capability and banned in all forms. . . but the task is harder than it seems.

For soldiers, not citizens

Following the Colorado shooting, President Obama declared that assault rifles need to be in the hands of soldiers, not citizens. His point is a valid one. Some dogs are great for hunting water fowl, and others need to stay on a chain. The assault rifle is definitely the latter beast. By design, it can reinforce the firepower of an infantry unit and keep the enemy at bay. Look at some of its features:  a blindingly fast muzzle velocity, generous magazine capacity, bayonet mount, flash suppressor, threaded barrel, and folding stock. In the hands of a properly trained soldier, the assault rifle can keep an army on the winning side.

This was all very lovely to the military. But criminals are equally aroused.

The good and bad with bans

Federal and state governments started pushing weapon bans to keep the nastiest weapons off the streets. Subtitle A of the Crime Control Act of 1994, a law that expired in 2004, prohibited the manufacture, distribution and ownership of particular semiautomatic weapons with large-capacity magazines. Kicking big magazines and large purchases of ammunition can also affect the trend in certain guns and crimes with those models. But despite these initiatives, the assault weapon gets a lucky break:

Rate of fire

The assault rifle doesn’t appear in violent crimes as often as handguns and knives. But with an increase rate of fire, their results are far worse. Look at a recent report from the New York Daily News about James Holmes, whose AR-15 was built to fire 50-60 rounds per minute:

The Batman-obsessed suspect could have stood in the front of the cinema and raked the rows of seated filmgoers had the gun not jammed.

A wave of rapid-fire violence also happened in January 1989 when Patrick Purdy attacked his childhood school with an offshoot of the AK-47:

Purdy, a drifter, squeezed off more than 100 rounds in 1 minute before turning the weapon on himself.

Because enough is enough

My amateur critique fails to do justice for the scores of victims who fall to this monstrous weapon. It was forged for war, not the streets. Those who employ it for violent acts commit to wholesale death and injury. The public should commit to erasing the assault rifle from our world. The victims have already stated the obvious:  enough is enough.

Primary source:  U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice report, Impacts of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban: 1994–96, dated March 1999

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