After so many incidents of unconscionable slaughter in schools, churches, at concerts, etc., perpetrated by deranged individuals “legally” armed with an AR 15, (according to the Guardian, there have been 1,624 mass shootings in 1,870 days), one would expect that reasonable people would agree that it is time, probably long past time, to enact common sense gun control legislation requiring such measures as background checks, a ban on “bump stocks,” a minimum age for purchasing a weapon, a 3 day waiting period, even a ban on assault type weapons. But yet, as has become apparent in the inevitable debate that ensues following each of these horrendous incidents, many “good, religious, and patriotic” individuals as President Trump describes them, seem to value their guns more than human lives. These gun apologists, led by the National Rifle Association, argue that any restriction on their ability to purchase and own what even Eugene Stoner, the inventor of the AR15 recognized as a weapon of war, is un-American and a violation of their 2nd Amendment rights. In this article I will respond to the arguments offered by those who refuse to give up their AR15s and explain why they should.
“I won't give up my AR15 because ownership is guaranteed by the 2nd amendment.”
At the time the second amendment was written, the framers were concerned with ensuring the protection of a newly formed nation without a standing army and only a militia of citizen soldiers armed with black powder and ball muskets to defend it. All would agree, I think, we have come a long way since then. Given the increased firepower and destructive capability of modern weaponry developed since the Bill of Rights was written on December 15, 1791, reasonable people have recognized that the “right” to bear arms guaranteed under the 2nd Amendment, like other rights such as “free speech,” is not unlimited.
Even the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the undisputed champion of Conservative values, writing the majority opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller agrees.
“We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms . . . that the sorts of weapons protected were those in common use at the time . . . We think that limitation is fairly supported by the historical tradition of prohibiting the carrying of “dangerous and unusual weapons.”
Prohibitions against certain weapons already exist, for example against automatic weapons, bazookas, hand grenades, etc. The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 10 to 4 ruling, has ruled that assault weapons fall into this category of “dangerous and unusual weapons” and are not protected under the 2nd Amendment. You should give up your AR15.
“I won't give up my AR15 because curtailment of the ability to purchase and own assault weapons is a violation of my rights and freedoms.”
Even if gun ownership is a right, as indicated above, rights are not absolute. Rather, they are what philosophers term “prima facie.” That is, rights apply unless and until they come into conflict with more stringent rights or interests. Even John Stuart Mill, who many identify as having influenced the Libertarian movement and a strong proponent of rights and personal freedom argued in his important work "On Liberty," that rights may be overridden and freedoms curtailed to protect the stringent interest (life, well being) of other right bearers. Again Scalia agrees. He writes, “like most rights, the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited . . . not a right to keep and carry any weapon whatsoever in any manner whatsoever and for whatever purpose.” You should give up your AR15.
“I won't give up my AR15 because I need it for protection.”
Assault rifles as noted above are weapons of war designed to deliver fatal wounds to groups of individuals within a short period of time. So unless you are expecting Armageddon or believe an attack by a battalion of enemy soldiers is imminent, self-protection can be more efficiently achieved with a home security system, a handgun, a bolt-action rifle, or shotgun. You should give up your AR15.
“I won't give up my AR15 because I need it for target shooting.”
An out-of-the-box, stock assault weapon, without expensive modifications such as swapping barrels and upper receivers, is notoriously ill fit for target shooting as it is not intended for accuracy but, as noted above, for maximum firepower and inflicting mass casualties. Though normally armed with assault weapons, when choosing a sniper rifle where accuracy is of critical importance, military and law enforcement tactical units opt for the more accurate M24 Weapon System, a bolt action, 7.62 caliber weapon or its equivalent. You should give up your AR15.
“I won't give up my AR15 because I need it for hunting.”
Hunting is allegedly a sport and someone who uses a "spray and pray" semiautomatic weapon with a 50 round magazine isn't much of a sportsman but a wannabe “warrior” who should occupy himself by playing first person shooter video games. Besides IMHO the bolt action 30.06 is the best rifle for both hunting and target shooting. You should give up your AR15.
“I won't give up my AR15 because I like the feeling of power I get when I shoot it.”
I remember the exhilarating feeling of power I experienced firing a 50 caliber machine gun when I was in the Marines. Such feelings of power, however, are role specific, reserved for members of the military in order to assist them in the accomplishment of their mission. You should give up your AR15.
“I won't give up my AR15 because I need a military weapon of war designed for maximum firepower and inflicting mass casualties in the upcoming revolution against the government.”
I will end this discussion with a final bit of advice for all the survivalist and would be revolutionaries out there, so listen up. Even should you and others of your ilk somehow gain access to more formidable weapons such as a tank or a drone in addition to your AR15s and bump stocks, FORGET IT! You’re no George Washington nor are your compatriots in the NRA the Minutemen. Against a government with a standing army of 1.4 million that spends over $700 Billion annually on sophisticated high tech weapons of war, you haven’t got a chance in hell. Want to wear camouflage and be a warrior, then join the military. Otherwise stop standing in the way of sane gun regulations that will take the weapons of mass murder out of the hands of lunatics and terrorists and save the lives of our children.
Give up your AR15.