Words Have Meaning In The War On Guns

I am not a writer. I am not a lobbyist, or looking for a political career, or trying to raise money, or pushing any agenda of any sort. I am not here to tell you what you need to do or how you need to act. I can’t even tell you the best way to prevent violence. I am simply a young American who works his butt off day in and day out trying to live a happy life. I work a very blue collar job. I live in a small town in rural America. I’m a fan of God, guns, my country, tattoos and horses. I am not a perfect person. I cuss, I fight, and I get lazy. I have even made a few mistakes where I have found myself in legal trouble as a result (Thank God nothing that would impede my gun rights). I have seen firsthand what guns in the wrong hands can do. I have also seen where if a gun would have been in the right hand it could have saved a lot of suffering.

I spend a fair amount of time online reading opinions of other people. I have tried to look at both the pro-gun and anti-gun side. I see the common stereotypes associated with people on both sides. While I have just scratched the surface, I have begun reading into a history of firearms and their worldly influence. Because none of the current issues involve hunting arms and they seem to concentrate on what the media and politicians refer to as “assault weapons.” This is where I will focus my attentions this time around.

First off, what is an assault weapon? If you have had your head under a rock in perfect and blessed ignorance of current events for the last several decades the logical answer would be that an assault weapon is a weapon used to assault someone. There have been many weapons created with the main intention of hurting fellow humans all throughout history. Besides assaulting another man what was the purpose of a sword? I can’t say I’ve ever heard of people hunting with long swords. So if that’s the case, nearly anything can be an “assault weapon”.

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Ever sense some Chinese alchemist stumbled upon black powder somewhere around 1,200 years ago it has been used in weaponry.

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“The earliest known formula for gunpowder can be found in a Chinese work dating probably from the 800s. The Chinese wasted little time in applying it to warfare, and they produced a variety of gunpowder weapons, including flamethrowers, rockets, bombs, and land mines, before inventing firearms.” (Chase, Kenneth (2003), Firearms: A Global History to 1700, Cambridge University Press).

Then, of course, people have sought to advance technology to make killing of things more efficient. When the first automatic gun was invented by Hiram Maxim in the late 1800’s it received both great reviews and heavy criticism. Fifty men with a few Maxim guns could defend against an attack from thousands of men. It could also be used to invade a country and take out the entire standing army in a day. This advanced into more and more power, both in bigger and smaller packages. Then come the assault rifles.

The term assault rifle is a translation of the German word Sturmgewehr (literally “storm rifle”, “storm” as in “military attack”). The name was coined by Adolf Hitler as a new name for the Maschinenpistole 43, also known as the Sturmgewehr 44. Using a strict definition, in order for a firearm to be considered an assault rifle it has to have several key features. Which are: It must be an individual weapon with ability to fire from the shoulder, must be capable of select fire (full automatic/burst fire option along with the semi-auto option), must fire an intermediate power cartridge, its ammo must be fed from a detachable magazine, and is has to have a range of 300 meters or more. With these requirements we narrow down what can be considered an assault rifle to a rather small group. No true assault rifle is easy for an American civilian to get his hands on. Have you ever tried? If you get past all the red tape and bureaucracy then feel free to pony up the 15-20 grand it will cost for the gun, considering they’re now collectors’ items because the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act that banned a civilian from ownership or transfer rights of any fully automatic weapon which was not registered as of May 19, 1986. Any such weapon manufactured and registered before the May 19 cutoff date could still be legally owned and transferred by civilians. That means anything produced after 1986 is considered illegal for civilians.

What about “tactical rifles” or “combat rifles” or “sniper rifles?” Are those further weapons of death and destruction able to strike fear in any man’s soul? Or are they labels intended to bolster sales and create fear so that they may be demonized? Because if so, that’s really counterproductive for both sides. Look at the zombie craze. It made a huge splash and many people went out, bought guns, and learned how to use them all in order to better protect themselves from the “undead.” I consider this a good thing. It helped the economy, it made guns cool again. No longer is it just the “right wing wack job” that wants to own AR-15’s and AK style rifles because he is afraid of the communist party taking over America. Now it’s your big brother who has the AR-15 because he’s going to be able to effectively save your butt when z-day comes. All this and the video game Call of Duty perpetuated mislabeling that now the anti-gun crowd is using to fuel their flames. First, understand the term “Sniper rifle.” As told to be by a former USMC scout sniper, “There is no such thing as a sniper rifle. There is just a sniper and his rifle.” So if you can’t call any of these .50BMG or Tactical Remington 700’s sniper rifles, then what are they? The correct term would be a long range precision rifle. Well, that’s not very scary.

Now, the term used is “combat rifle.” In my eyes a combat rifle would be any rifle you chose to go into combat with. To go into combat is to engage in a fight. If you look at it that way then yes, your AR or your AK style rifle could be a combat rifle when used in a fight for self-defense, but so could your little .38 revolver, or your great grandpa’s 12ga shotgun. If you use it in a fight, whether defense or assault then the weapon you use is your combat/self-defense weapon.

Why do politicians and anti-gunners use these terms if they’re incorrect? I believe it is part ignorance and part fear mongering. Trying to create an emotional reaction strong enough to demonize an inanimate object. How effective would it be to say “We need to ban semi-automatic small caliber sporting rifles with plastic accessories?” Some have started calling them “military style” rifles. Yes, that’s true. The design for my sporting/self-defense rifle was based off a design that is or was used by a military force. The Brown Bess musket is an outdated military style firearm. It is probably responsible for more deaths than the M-16. Yyet it’s legal for anyone, felons included, to own. Where is the outcry on this?

History has shown that an unarmed man is at the mercy of an armed man. Why people are willing to reduce their ability to protect themselves is beyond me. Maybe it’s just complacency. Nothing bad has ever happened to them so the only use they see for firearms is what video games, movies, and the rare mass shooting portray: Death, destruction and evil. Maybe they have never fired a semi-auto sporting rifle and saw how much fun it can be. They can’t understand its usefulness as a tool to protect your land, your family, and yourself. Maybe they lack an understanding of history and tie that back into the complacency because they believe that their happy little world will never end. Maybe they are just the peace loving type and have an unrealistic expectation of a crime free world.

Whatever it may be, disarming citizens is bad. Falsely labeling these items is a way to make them seem evil. This needs to end and my little voice can’t do it alone. Help educate the masses. Let them know what they are supporting. Please use correct terminology. Pro-gun people using the wrong names only reinforces their standing and breeds more ill-contempt for these firearms. We need the public to know that these guns are not evil. An AR-15 does not encourage more deaths.

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