When Is An Assault Rifle Not An Assault Rifle?

              The gun industry better come up with a basic narrative to staunch what could be some serious financial problems, assuming that the AWB virus (read: assault weapons ban) begins to spread throughout the globe. Because it just doesn’t work to refer to a gun as a ‘modern sporting rifle’ when the so-called ‘sport’ results in 50 people getting killed. It also doesn’t work to refer to an AR-15 as a ‘tactical’ gun when you can hardly consider a high school, a synagogue  or a mosque to be a war zone.

              This search for a new excuse to continue making profits from the sale of .America’s most popular’ rifle’ was on full display yesterday with a really stupid op-ed in The Washington Examiner. The writerlikened allowing families of Sandy Hook victims who want to sue the gun maker to be just as ‘ridiculous’ as allowing someone to sue a company which manufactures kitchen knives after some ‘crazy person’ takes a knife out of the cupboard and sticks it in someone else’s head.

              Last week I bought a knife from an online seller whose advertisement claimed that for $69.95 I was getting my hands on the best, most versatile and most effective ‘tactical’ knife ever made.  The advertisement made a point of promising that with this knife in my pocket, I could defend myself from any and all threats. There was no mention of whether I could also use this knife to slice a loaf of bread.

Of course I could stick this knife in the same kitchen drawer where I keep the utensils which I use to prepare and eat food. But I can also go down to Wal Mart and buy an entire set of forks, knives and spoons, or a complete set of steak knives (in a nice, wooden knife-holder) for less than $69.95. And I would be the last person to argue that if my loony cousin Arthur escaped from the loony bin, showed up at my house, grabbed one of those steak knives and pushed it into my head, that my wife should be able to sue Wal Mart because they sold me a product that was designed to trim the side of my Porterhouse filet.

This is exactly why the argument against banning assault rifles falls apart. Because an assault rifle is designed to do one thing: deliver massive, military-grade firepower into a public space containing multiple human beings who are targeted by the guy who has the gun. And the fact that nearly everyone who owns such a weapon wouldn’t think of using it to hurt or injure someone else, doesn’t make this type of gun any less dangerous or any safer for civilian sale.

One of the most popular semi-automatic rifles ever manufactured is a gun made by Ruger known as the Mini-14. It fires the same type of ammunition as the AR-15 (.223 or 5.56) and bears a slight resemblance to the old M-1 carbine, which was the 30-caliber version of the storied M-1 Garand. It was designed by Bill Ruger specifically to be a lightweight, sporting gun that could be used to hunt varmints or just have some shooting fun.

When Ruger started shipping this rifle it came and still comes with a 5-shot mag. So here was a gun that looks like a military gun, feels like a military gun and shoots like a military gun except that Bill Ruger didn’t want anyone thinking they were buying a military gun. In fact, Bill Ruger first characterized his company as ‘Arms Makers for Responsible Citizens,’ but the factory now ships what they call a ‘tactical’ Mini-14, complete with hi-cap mags.

Could Ruger refit its Mini-14 with a non-detachable mag that only holds 5 rounds? Of course they could, but the gun wouldn’t sell. And this is the reason why the gun industry has become, to paraphrase Hamlet, hoisted with its own petard. Because they can’t have it both ways. Either we shoot for sport or we shoot to kill. It’s as simple as that.

8 thoughts on “When Is An Assault Rifle Not An Assault Rifle?

  1. I suppose they could also retrofit (or build a new version of) the Mini-14 and Mini-30 with those internal “en bloc clips” that go into the M-1 Garand. You load 8 rds into the clip which then inserts from the top of the rifle into an internal magazine well rather than opening from the bottom. With the Garand, you can put in 8 rounds, period, of 30/06 cartridges.

    I’ve shot both the Mini-14 and M-1 Garand. The bottom feeding magazine is easier to load and eject but the Garand version is not that difficult. The fun part is when the internal clip is empty it pops out of the rifle like a jack in the box.

    I have to thank one of our club members, an older gentleman, for letting me shoot his M-1 Garand at the club rifle range one day. As he said, looking at me in astonishment, “what do you mean you have never shot an M-1 Garand. Everyone needs to shoot an M-1 Garand.”

    • Since a top loading mini 14 , ie by clip, would be about 95 percent as competent as a underneath mag for slaughtering defenseless unarmed people in small rooms, there is no good reason they would not soon be also banned. Not to mention a Glock… which would be more efficient.
      Most people today take their guns seriously so they can fight with them. Sport is just rehearsal, in their minds .
      So I guess most people today
      with guns should understand gvp as intended to remove the possibility of lawful armed self defense.

      • I disagree. The GVP is not out to disarm law-abiding citizens. I know firsthand because I’ve been in the movement for 15 years. And I’ve been a gun owner, hunter & muzzle loading gunmaker for much longer.
        It’s selfish & irresponsible for gun folks to buck common sense gun laws. GROW UP & BE REAL MAN.

      • Sure, hman, if someone knows what they are doing, I think the en bloc clip can be loaded quite rapidly and perhaps a slippery slope is not a fallacy in this case. And, of course, Norwegian mass shooter Anders Breivek turned the Mini-14 into a mass carnage instrument. Charles Whitman did most of his damage at the top of the UT Tower with a Remington 700. But he had time and marksmanship training.

        I don’t know where to draw the line. My personal view is the gun owning public takes these black rifles too much for granted. I’ve argued for graduated licensing and still do. As Mike said, you don’t need to worry about most owners. You have to worry about a tiny few but the problem is, the tiny few don’t come into a gun shop with “future mass shooter” written on their heads.

        Most gun violence in the US has nothing to do with ARs and we all know that. Most homicides are with garden variety pistols. A suicide doesn’t need a 30 rd clip. Generic gun violence and mass shooters are two different issues. I think sometimes we have the whole topic bass ackwards but we need to have the discussion and as my brother, another black rifle aficionado says, we either get it right or we yin-yang from one extreme to the other indefinitely.

  2. BTW
    I remember Bill Ruger saying all those things to pose as a maker of kinder gentler guns. I also remember that the product that his early success was based on was a dead ringer for a German Luger military pistol. Heck, even his name rhymed with it.
    If the bottom line goal of gvp in this country was to reduce gun crime … Measurably, efforts would begin and end with removing handguns from criminal sub cultures and putting extreme penalities on possession by prohibited persons. Bad guys should be made much more afraid to use guns in their crimes.
    As it is, gvp responds to trolls like the NZ shooter. And he was a troll. He wanted maximum outrage. Did anyone watch his video product? He shot the same poor folks over and over just to get better close up pics .

  3. The copycat phenomena is alive and well in reality but seldom makes it into these discussions. The Norwegian shooter is copied by others and those shooters just feed the symbiotic relationship between the shooters who want fame and the news media wanting sensational stories. People want to control the shooters by denying them tools. I wonder how we can teach the news media self-control. They usually have it when they report suicides if they report them at all.

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