When I started this blog, I wanted to avoid a heavy focus on guns and to avoid politics. There are plenty of blogs discussing those topics. I’m going to violate this and share some of my thoughts about gun control and the AR-15.
One year ago, gun control was completely off the charts as a political topic. But with a few tragic shootings, it has moved to the front burner. You can’t pickup a newspaper or visit a news website without seeing a piece about ideas for new gun control plans.
Some of the ideas include: universal background checks, a national gun registration database, heavy penalties for carrying guns near schools, renewal of the assault weapons ban, disallowing new magazines over ten rounds and banning “assault” style weapons.
A universal background check isn’t a bad idea. A person with a felony background shouldn’t be able to acquire guns through legitimate channels. In the case of the Newtown shooting, the lady who purchased the weapons passed one of the most stringent background checks in the country. By all accounts, she was a responsible and law abiding citizen. Her weapons were taken by her son.
Many criminals who want guns acquire stolen firearms through the black market. As long as guns can be stolen, it will be next to impossible to prevent a determined criminal from getting a gun. But a universal background check could help prevent a mentally disturbed person from purchasing a firearm.
A national registration database bothers many supporters of gun rights who don’t believe it’s the government’s business to know who owns guns. They see it as a possible first step to firearm confiscation. If the government knows exactly what weapons you own, and if a transfer to another party must be registered in the database, all of your firearms would be tracked.
While there might be some benefit to this, a national gun registration wouldn’t have prevented the Newtown shooting. The mother would have passed her background check with flying colors and have had her weapons registered in the database. That wouldn’t have done one thing to prevent the guns from being taken and misused. A database would allow law enforcement to track who acquires a lot of guns that wind up in the hands of criminals.
Heavy penalties for carrying guns near schools is a curious idea, but it too would have proved useless in preventing the Newtown shooting. The shooter was on a suicide mission. The shooter in Colorado was arrested and is facing multiple felony charges for murder. A penalty for carrying the gun on school premises wouldn’t have deterred either shooter. These people were blind to the personal consequences of their actions. One more legal penalty meant nothing to them.
Talk of reinstating the assault weapons ban and banning high capacity magazines has proved to be a powerful economic stimulus for gun shop owners who are seeing record sales of these items. Others have proposed making all semiautomatic rifles fall under Class 3 weapons which would require special permits. It would then largely be up to the individual states to determine if its citizens could own them.
Neglecting all the semiautomatic weapons already in the population, one problem with banning high-capacity weapons is that it won’t prevent malicious behavior. Even if we could use a large magnet to remove all high-capacity semiautomatic weapons from America, deranged shooters could still use a shotgun or a revolver to kill four or five people. Wouldn’t those shootings be tragedies too?
People strongly supporting gun control will argue we need to ban all revolvers and shotguns to prevent these future tragedies. If it worked for high capacity weapons wouldn’t it work for revolvers too? So once we accept gun bans as a solution to the problem of malicious shootings, there is no potential limit to just how much gun control we’d see in the future.
If gun control won’t prevent tragedies, what about the NRA’s suggestion of placing armed guards in every school? That’s not economically realistic. If we spend more for police, they can be much more effectively placed. Proposing that teachers arm themselves is a losing proposition too. Too many teachers don’t want guns in schools. Once we argue many teachers must be armed, that will only grow support for gun control nationally.
What about the infamous AR-15? Preppers who read my book know I like it. It’s popular with preppers. It’s popular with target shooters. Many long-range shooters love using AR-15s chambered in the 6.5 Grendel to hit targets at 500, 600, and even 800 yards.
There were three major shootings that have been reported in the last couple of years where a malicious person used an AR-15. I’ve seen estimates that there are about 3 million AR-15 rifles in America. Doing the math, the chances of an existing AR-15 rifle being used nefariously are about 0.001 percent. One thousandth of a percent.
The lesson is that misuse of semiautomatic rifles is rare. Do we really want to prevent three million honest law abiding Americans from owning AR-15s to prevent three shootings?
Some gun control advocates aiming at the AR-15 have singled out survivalists and preppers as “paranoid survivalists who worry about having to fend off thieves and trespassers in the event of disaster.”
They argue we don’t have a “need” for AR-15s. Putting aside the issue of rights versus needs, the thing that upsets many gun owners is being told what we “need” and what we don’t “need.” There are some who would argue you don’t “need” a revolver for defense either. Should we all give up our revolvers? Who is to decide what level of armament is appropriate?
Once we accept gun restrictions as a way to reduce rare events, we’re on a slippery slope where many more guns could be banned in the future. As I wrote in the book, preppers want to be self sufficient and this is a key reason we study self defense. We don’t want to have to depend upon law enforcement or the government to protect our families. No matter how bad things get, we want to at least have a chance to defend ourselves. It’s not about fending off “thieves and trespassers.” It’s about protecting our families from those who would be quite willing to kill us for a few supplies.