With the recent emphasis on criminal shootings and the debate between people who want stricter gun control and those who recognize the usefulness of guns for self defense and community safety, the assault rifle has recently come under fire as to its necessity in modern society.
Gun owners already understand a civilian version of a military weapon is no more dangerous in the hands of a responsible gun owner than a hunting rifle. People who aren’t familiar with or have never been around these types of weapons often mistakenly believe they are only for military use and criminals. There is a group in between who aren’t familiar with the weapons but who have an open mind and want to hear an honest explanation about them without bias. This piece is for such a group.
Assault Weapons Defined
The first thing to understand, in technical terms, is that there is no such thing as an assault rifle. There is a Battle Rifle, which is fully automatic weapon — or perhaps shoots two to three round bursts. Examples include the M16, the AK-47, or the FN FAL. There are semi-automatic civilian versions, which are simply rifles that look kind of scary.
In civilian use of the term, however, there is a common understanding that an assault weapon fits more than one of several criteria. Most common are the high capacity magazine, a removable magazine for fast reloading, a pistol grip, and a folding stock. Most people who don’t own guns don’t know what this is, but would include the Picatinny rail system as part of their description.
Practical Aspects of Rifle Design
The fact is, each of those criteria have a practical aspect for the casual shooter beyond military use. The pistol grip allows for better control of the gun when shooting than a tradition straight stock. The folding stock allows for ease of transport, or the similar retractable stock also allows the weapon to be fit shooters of different sizes. This can be especially important if a husband and wife share a gun, but also let a friend at the shooting range try different models and accessories.
The Picatinny rail allows for those accessories, whether advanced optical sights, a laser pointer to line up a shot, or a flashlight since home defense is likely going to be conducted after dark. The high capacity magazine is important for practice shooting whether being coached or simply trying stance variations, and is also important for defense situations against multiple armed attackers.
Second Amendment Rights
The 2nd Amendment provides a right to own weapons in the U.S., however, courts have determined some items such as explosives are simply too dangerous for polite society. The same argument is used to infringe upon the rights to own guns as well.
People who own homes tend to know their neighbors, and once someone is known their responsible gun ownership isn’t questioned as much as in cities where apartment dwellers don’t know everyone personally who lives in the building. The debate really needs to be refocused to such a topic so with education people can come to understand high capacity weapons are not unsafe, even when the owner isn’t a personal friend.
~ Firearm Daily