What The Heck Is An “Assault Weapon?”

by Rick Olson

“Hoplophobia is a mental disturbance characterized by irrational aversion to weapons, as opposed to justified apprehension about those who may wield them.”—Col. Jeff Cooper.

Colonel Jeff Cooper: USMC, Firearms Instructor, Writer

Gun Grabbers are seeking an, “Assault weapons” ban in knee jerk response to the heinous and dreadful Newtown Massacre. There is little discussion about Adam Lanza or the victims from whom he lawlessly and barbarically snatched life.

Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly likes to refer to these black scary guns as, “Heavy weapons” (and still we have no clear and articulate definition on what heavy weapons are) So exactly what is the anatomy of a black scary gun these gun banners seek to vanquish from our hands?

The term, “Assault Weapon” is a redundancy created to assist an anti-gun pathos.  The definition of Assault in its simplest form is, “a physical attack.” A weapon defined in simple terms is, “any device used to injure, defeat, or destroy.”

Absent the pathos where common sense prevails, an assault weapon can now be effectively defined as a knife, a club, a bat, a tire iron, a whip or an atlatl, in addition to any firearm, not just scary black guns.

The AR-15 is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, shoulder-fired firearm. It is a semi-automatic rifle, meaning, it fires a chambered round, while simultaneously extracting the spent casing and loading a new round dispensed from a spring-loaded magazine with each independent press of a trigger. The AR-15 is not a machine gun.

The AR-15 fires a .223 Remington cartridge (or 5.56×45 mm NATO) round which has a typical average velocity of 3,200 feet per second.  .223 is the caliber or, “size” of the bullet. they range in weight from 55 grains to 62 grains or a smidgen more than a quarter of an ounce.  We are talking about a projectile that is under a quarter of an inch, weighing a quarter of an ounce….fired from a scary black gun.

The Ruger 10/22 and the .22 caliber rimfire bear some limited similarities to scary black guns.  Ruger 10/22 is semi-automatic. So is the AR-15. The Ruger 10/22 can take a higher capacity magazine. So can the AR-15. The AR-15 and Ruger 10/22 have comparable sized projectiles that exit the muzzle. While the power between the two vastly varies, we can now see the intellectual flaws in terminology like, “Heavy weapons” and “Assault Weapons.” Then there is one final glaring fact: Both firearms when used criminally and illegally, kill people equally dead.

An average .22 caliber rimfire cartridge has a muzzle velocity of roughly 1,065( +/) feet per second. Like the .223 Remington, the .22 caliber rim fire projectile is roughly the same size, separated only by 1/1,000th of an inch in size. These projectiles weigh anywhere from 19 to 40 grains: an infinitesimal weight difference between the two.

On January 29, 1979, 16-year-old Brenda Ann Spenser used a Ruger 10/22  to “plink” at kids and teachers at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego California.  She is now doing 25-to life in Prison as she killed two and wounded eight others.  The Ruger 10/22 is one of the most popular selling rifles since hitting the market in 1964 and is Not an assault weapon…

“We have to ban these powerful weapons…” go the hues and cries of the anti-gun liberals. But as usual, they are never clear about what they speak, letting ignorance and confusion stand.

How about a Marlin 1895 CB lever action rifle, chambered in 45-70 Government? What makes that firearm so powerful? Is it its’ low velocity round and muzzle energy, effective to take down most North American Big game animals? Or is it whether or not the shooter can tolerate the recoil that rattles ones fillings at the press of the trigger?

What about the even bigger rifles like the Armalite AR-50, MacMillan TAC 50, and the Barrett M82A1, all of which employ the massive 50 caliber bullet, commonly known as the 50BMG? (.510 diameter) 650-800 grains in weight.  Now, these might conceivably be considered, “Heavy weapons.”  Perhaps the Bolt Action Rifle, .505 Gibbs? 375 H&H? 404 Jeffrey? 416 Rigby? .577 Nitro? All of them have MASSIVE, MASSIVE power. I have fired them all and they left me bruised and sore.

The aforementioned are all designed as, “long range shooting rifles.” Or in the case of the big game rounds, meant for hunting Dangerous game. (Lions, Tigers, and Bears, Oh My!) They all have very long barrels, are very heavy and most often (except for the Barrett) are bolt action (big game rifles tend to be double rifles and break action) rifles.  But this fact that lacks relevance in the gun ban debate where killing sprees happen at very close ranges with small caliber arms. Despite that, California has banned them because they are simply scary. To date, there are no gun crimes recorded using any of these extra-large caliber firearms.

Facts are inconvenient things.

Asia has the United States beat, “hands down”  on the Spree Killings with  122.  Since 1863, there have been sixty-three such spree killings in the U.S. The decade with the highest number was 1980 to 1990 counting at 15, and handguns are the most used firearms in spree killings.

Might the reader find this information bordering on mundane? Probably. But certainly it cannot be argued that I am not reasonably informed about that which I write.

All the calls to ban these scary black guns FAILS to deal with the other inconvenient hard cold facts. Fact 1: We have these gun safe school zones…no guns present anywhere. If a spree killer enters into a school with a .22 rim fire rifle, be it a bolt action, lever action or semi-automatic, with the express intent to kill many…he (or she) will likely kill many. Fact 2: The fallen dead will be as equally dead as if they were shot with a pistol, a Bushmaster Rifle, a musket or a big bore hunting rifle….and no less dead.

History tells us that spree killers have been around since the civil war and long before the advent of the so-called assault weapon. Spree killers have frequently used items other than firearms in mass murder, such as the dynamite and timer used in Bath Michigan in 1927 by Andrew Kehoe: 45 Killed, 58 injured…38 were children.

Efforts to ban firearms possessed by law-abiding citizens is not only misplaced but gives further evidence to a progressive-statist utopian worldview that citizens do not need guns, that they may be subjects to an oppressive government and not citizens. Some of the most poignant statements advocating for the confiscation of guns comes from the likes of Stalin, Pol Pot, Hitler, Mussolini, Kim Jong Il and Fidel Castro. Most recently, Hugo Chavez has banned the possession of all firearms by citizens and will require surrender of all privately owned firearms.

Col. Jeff Cooper put it like this:

“The conclusions seem inescapable that in certain circles a tendency has arisen to fear people who fear government. Government, as the Father of Our Country put it so well, is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. People who understand history, especially the history of government, do well to fear it. For a people to express openly their fear of those of us who are afraid of tyranny is alarming. Fear of the state is in no sense subversive. It is, to the contrary, the healthiest political philosophy for a free people.” – Jeff Cooper’s Commentaries, vol. 4, no. 16, December, 1996

Assault weapon is a term of redundancy. A misnomer…a liberal pathos. Next time a liberal asks why a person needs a black scary gun, tell them to trade in their Lexus’, their Volvo’s and their Land Rovers for Yugo’s, Why not? Nobody needs any of those vehicles. Transportation from point A to point B is all that is “needed”. Comfort and style are the bane of the opulent.  So, buy  that Yugo today!

This isn’t about scary black guns. This public debate is about keeping the populace in check and disarming those who the progressives perceive as a threat.

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