The military writing style has taught me to state the “Bottom Line Upfront”. In this case, the bottom line is that assault rifles exist for one reason, they were created to kill people. From their high rate of fire and large capacity magazines to their ease to conceal or covertly carry; their design and function is as a weapon of calculated violence and war.
I grew up in the country, and have been exposed to guns for about as long as I can remember. My dad made me carry around a wooden, rubber band shotgun when I went pheasant hunting with him as a 10-year-old. He taught me early important weapons safety skills, like treating all guns as if they’re loaded and to only point a gun at something I wanted to kill. I started hunting at 12 and still do whenever possible. While still in high school, I joined the National Guard to help pay for college. I eventually took a commission as an officer, and have moved up through the ranks, now holding the rank of Major.
In my time in the military, I’ve deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, carrying an M4 rifle. Weapons like the M4, and its semi-automatic civilian version the AR15 were created for the military. That’s because they can cycle extremely fast with minimal recall, allowing soldiers to put large amounts of lead on a target; the 5.56mm ammunition works well to punch through light armor, they have high ammo capacity magazines (30 rounds) that can be quickly reloaded, and they’ll perform in extremely dirty conditions. This makes them an ideal weapon for military use for killing the enemy. Surprisingly they’re actually not very good as hunting rifles, they’re often less accurate than decent rifles created for the purpose of hunting, and the 5.56mm ammo isn’t a good hunting round. The small caliber 5.56mm ammo is too small even for deer hunting in most states. The round can be adapted to use for certain small game hunting, but there are plenty of hunting rifles designed for those purposes that can likely do it better. Assault rifles are good for their created purpose, killing a large number of people in a short amount of time.
Machine guns and fully automatic rifles have been banned in the United States since 1935, and while the NRA claims that assault rifles are a constitutional right, the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban held up to numerous challenges in court before President Bush allowed it to expire in 2004. Some states have been successful in passing assault rifle bans, but those states then must face continual challenges from the NRA and the gun lobby. In 2016, the NRA alone spent over $60 million to ensure that politicians won’t infringe upon their self-declared right to these war weapons. A recent challenge by the NRA to the State of Maryland’s assault rifle ban was denied 10-4 by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. “Put simply, we have no power to extend Second Amendment protections to weapons of war,” Judge Robert King wrote for the court.
What many second amendment advocates conveniently forget is the reason for it; to keep a well-regulated militia. The National Guard traces its origins to the militias of the 13 colonies, and as the civilian reserve, standing ready to defend the United States, can claim the be the well-regulated militia. As an National Guard officer, I’ve waited for each promotion in rank until I’ve been “Federally Recognized”, through the Army, the DoD, and finally signed off by the Secretary of Defense. Many National Guard officers often wait nearly a year to receive their promotion due to this federal recognition process. If this process isn’t a perfect example of the regulation of our militia, I don’t know what would be.
Until the average American realizes that the NRA and its supporters are more willing to accept school shootings like Sandy Hook and mass shootings like Las Vegas, than admit that assault rifles are weapons of war unsuitable for civilian ownership; our elected officials will have to face the wrath of the NRA and the powerful gun lobby. It will take a serious outcry from concerned citizens, tired of the thoughts and prayers of our politicians, that we’re ready for actual action. Assault rifles are a military tool, and as such should only be found locked away in an arms vault on a military installation. Call your local representative at the state and national level and encourage them support a ban on civilian ownership of assault rifles and high capacity magazines like those used in so many of the recent mass shootings.
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