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Why Does Anybody Need a

Semi-Automatic “Assault” Weapon




By: David Deschesne


Fort Fairfield Journal May 9, 2018



   There is a lot of disinformation abounding in the mainstream news media and also spouted by fear-mongering, control freak, authoritarian politicians about guns, so I’m going to make an attempt to bring some reason to the discussion of so-called “assault” weapons.


What is a semi-automatic weapon?

    The term “semi-auto” and “assault weapon” have been inextricably linked in the minds and psyches of the American public.  The two have come to mean the same thing.  Though the term, “assault weapon” seems to refer to the firearms that are all black and scary looking to your average liberal gun hater.

  A recent CNN report showed retired Lt. General Mark Hertling demonstrating an AR-15 “assault” rifle in what he called, “full semi-automatic” mode.  Some call this a mistake or misstatement since the AR-15 operates in semi-automatic mode only.  But, I don’t believe that to be the case since CNN is at the forefront of psychological warfare operations in the quest to rid all Americans of their ability to defend themselves.  I think they were trying to subliminally link “full” automatic with “semi” automatic in order to further demonize the semi-auto rifles.

   A semi-automatic firearm is simply one that redirects some of the explosive gases from the gunpowder in the barrel back down a secondary tube alongside the barrel in order to eject the spent bullet casing and reload another.  A semi-auto is not a “machine gun.”  In semi-automatic mode, you only get one bullet out for every squeeze of the trigger. 

   Contrasted with semi-auto is the “full auto” function, which means holding the trigger down will continually fire bullets until it is released or the magazine is empty.  These are the “machine guns” most people are familiar with.

   Full auto makes for good action movie images, but continuous firing is not very effective from an accuracy standpoint and firing for too long a period of time will cause the barrel to overheat and either warp or jam—thus rendering the weapon unusable.  When I was in U.S. Army Basic Training we were taught to only fire three round bursts in full auto and give the barrel a few seconds to cool down.  As for accuracy, we were taught to focus our aim in semi-auto mode, aim for center mass and try to make one shot/one kill.  As an aside, I qualified in Expert Class in rifle marksmanship in the Army, hitting 39 out of 40 targets.


The NRA is the Bad Guy and Wants all the Crazies to Have guns

   This point was made to me recently, but it’s not true. This is what most people walk away from a mainstream television newscast thinking at the end of the day.

   No, the NRA doesn't resist background checks for the "crazies."  If you were to attend any of their hunter safety or handgun safety courses, you would find the instructors (who are local people that have qualified as instructors) are very diligent about responsibility and safety and take firearms very seriously.  I've spoken to some who have said they will fail a student if they didn't think they're ready to be certified.  The courses are pretty intensive. 

  While listening to network television “news,” be careful of falling prey to the stereotype portrayed by the mainstream media which is against guns in general and the NRA in particular because they are simply an easy focal point.

   While the NRA does advocate for responsible gun ownership, they are indefatigable in their quest to teach safety to those responsible gun owners.  As for those who would use a firearm (or knife, or chemicals, or whatever) to do harm, well, they're going to do harm anyway no matter how much safety and responsibility training is at their disposal.  

   Firearms safety training is not just for NRA membership.  Handgun and hunter safety classes are for the general populace, one need not be an NRA member to attend.  Many who take the classes aren't members.  I've had access to firearms for years and I've never been a member of the NRA.  While I’ve had access to firearms for most of my adult life, I have also never threatened anyone with a gun, or killed anyone.  I'm a lover, not a fighter.  But, I want the option to defend myself and my family if I have to.


Everyone has the right to bear arms?

   Yes.  Everybody has the right (and duty, for the defense of the state and nation) to bear arms—not just for hunting.  The second amendment to the U.S. Constitution addresses the right to keep and bear arms to the militia.  While “militia” has been made a dirty word and connected with terror, the reality and historical use of the word is simply the entire citizenry assembled for the defense of the State.  In Maine, our own law allows for a militia and it’s still in effect today, listing everyone between the ages of 18-45 years of age (who are not already members of the National Guard) as its members.  In Maine we call  the militia the Maine State Guard, which is the state-owned version of the federal government’s “National Guard” (see Maine Revised Statutes Title 37-B sec. 222-225).  Most other States have their own State Guard units but like Maine’s they only exist on paper at this point due to lack of funding.


But the Police Will Protect Us!

   Most people don’t know the police are not legally required to provide protection.  This is evidenced by a U.S. supreme court ruling where the court ruled police cannot be sued for failing to provide protection to a person (ref Castle Rock v Gonzales; 545 U.S. 748 (2005).  The D.C. Court of Appeals also had a similar ruling stating police are not legally required to protect people (ref Warren v. District of Columbia 441 A.2d. 1, D.C. Ct of App 1981).


“Common Sense Gun Control”

   There are plenty of government controls already in place.  For example, it's illegal to murder people (with anything).  Yet, people still do it.  It's illegal to threaten someone else with a firearm or any other lethal weapon.  Yet, people still do it.  It's illegal to speed a vehicle through a crowd of people - yet people have done it recently.  There are plenty of government controls already in place but some people simply don't follow the rules.

   Ergo, due to the fact that the police aren't and can't be legally obligated to provide you personal protection, and there are rule breakers in society, it is then prudent that you should at least have the option available and not restricted to provide your own protection.   If one is going to arm himself, he should be familiar with the weapon, properly trained, know the legalities of operating that weapon (just as you would a car, plane, forklift or any other tool that could potentially cause damage to others).  For example, in Maine you can only use deadly force if you honestly believe your life is in danger (you cannot shoot someone for stealing your TV, or anything else for that matter).  And most importantly, you should have access to as good a quality of weapon as a bad guy (both in and outside of government) is going to be potentially coming at  you with.  For example, don't bring a knife to a gun fight.  And if semi-auto is what he's using, you should be able to have access to a comparable level of weaponry, too, in order to keep the playing field even.


Doesn't the NRA want automatic weaponry legal, too?

 This question was recently posed to me.

   Pre-1986 full automatic weapons are already legal to own.  One must pass the conventional background check as with all rifles, pay a $200 transfer tax to the feds, including a duplicate set of fingerprints and photographs and provide a copy of ATF Form 4, a/k/a a registration form, to his or her local police chief (or sheriff, or State police - whichever is his community's law enforcement provider).  The only full autos not legal for so-called consumer use are any made after 1986.  Post-1986 machine guns can only be owned by law enforcement agencies, government agencies and dealers with law demo-request letters.

   Since those full autos that are legal are collector's items, they get very expensive very quickly.  Expect to pay several thousands of dollars for a good full auto.  While some pre-1986 machine guns are bought by collectors, others buy them simply because they can.


Tools in a Tool Box 

   As far as discouraging government - or any bad people for that matter—from doing bad things, guns, whether semi or full auto, are only one of the tools in the tool box.  Information is another tool, as with its co-partner, education.  Any guerilla warrior knows he can use many different things at his disposal to affect his outcome.  For example, deprivation (of food, water, electricity, etc. can be pretty effective), the same goes for psychological operations.  Threat, duress and coercion can come in many forms—as government exercises against us, daily. 

   Why should people have access to semi-auto weaponry? You might ask.  For the same reason you have more than a hammer in your tool box.  Sometimes a saw or screwdriver is a better tool for the task at hand.  Same goes for defensive weapons.  A semi-auto rifle is a good tool, but depending on the situation, the other types may work better.


“Nobody Needs an Assault Weapon; those are not hunting firearms.”

    Yes, we do need access to every kind of tool (weapon) available to us.  If not for protection against government, for protection against a breakdown of society, or an invading military force.  Venezuela is currently experiencing a breakdown in society due to an ongoing economic collapse.  Guns have been outlawed there for years.  Food trucks are routinely stopped by armed gangs and all of their food looted because of such massive shortages in stores.  It's been going on three or four years in this condition; the dogs, cats, pigeons and zoo animals have all been eaten and food has run out.  The good people have no way to protect themselves from those roving gangs and the police and military are overwhelmed since they can't be everywhere all the time and escort every single food distribution truck to a warehouse - much less protect all the warehouses from looting.  Venezuela is only the most recent lesson for why the entire populace should be armed with every conceivable means of defense.  There are many other examples throughout recent history.

   With that said, the 'right to keep and bear arms' has nothing to do with hunting.  It has everything to do with providing a common defense of family and country.


Other Countries Don’t Have As Much Gun Violence as the U.S.

   Perhaps.  But, there are two reasons for this: 1.) psychotropic drugging of society, mixed with 2.) violent first-person shooter video games desensitizing the populace to killing.   We've had semi-automatic weapons in our society for years and no mass shootings like today.  The only variables that have changed are the prescribed psychiatric drugs and the video games (I would like to add movies, and television in with the media of video games, here.)  Another variable is parenting skills, which is deteriorating with each generation.  Also, one must consider the possibility of government-induced shootings in staged scenarios in order to give the appearance of an organic event.  The CIA has been conducting similar operations in other countries for decades.  Should we be so naive as to discount the possibility of them doing those operations here?  To ignore that possibility wouldn't be prudent in a discussion of mass shootings when most appear to be for political gain.


Semi-autos are destructive

to peace and life.

   A semi-auto is no more destructive to peace and life than a single shot, bolt action deer rifle.  The problem with banning one is government never stops there. Once they start outright bans, all other types of weapons soon follow.  Then, you end up with government owning the monopoly of force.  To get an idea of what that scenario looks like, just look at the Gulags of the former Soviet Union or the Concentration camps of former NAZI, Germany.


When Have Semi-Autos Ever Been used to stop a school shooting?

   I direct your attention to the school shooting in Maryland in March of this year.  It didn't get much play in the media because a School Resource Officer (a police officer working in the school) shot the shooter dead after he got off only two shots, injuring two.  The sidearm a police officer uses is semi-auto, just as all of police officers' sidearms.  Just because they're not the length of a rifle, doesn't mean they're any less effective.  So, yes, a semi-automatic weapon was used recently to avert disaster and there would be more such positive outcomes if more schools, churches, etc. would encourage good people, who have been vetted, to be armed at their locations.


We should just ban guns!

   Banning guns will not ban evil.  Venezuela has banned guns, but there are still roving gangs with really nice weapons running around doing bad things to others and taking control of the limited food supply.   A ban of a particular type of gun is not a reasonable deterrent to evil, either.

   Getting rid of semi-automatic rifles is not going to solve the problem of evil and malevolence in society instigated by those people intent on doing harm to others.  Guns have nothing to do with that behavior.  Eliminate the guns and another means of destruction will readily be adopted since the initial problem will not have been adequately addressed.

   If we could wave a magic wand and make all guns everywhere go away in an instant, there would still be bad people doing bad people stuff and they would simply find another way to affect their ends.  Good people would then have to adjust their defense accordingly.

   There are always going to be bad people and they will always have access to firearms one way or another.  Thus, good people should have the same access too.  Restrictive gun laws are only obeyed by people who choose to obey the law anyway, so they're not the problem.  Bad guys are the problem.

   Remember, When seconds count, the police are always minutes away.


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