I wasn’t surprised to see that the editorial board of The Des Moines Register called for the return of the federal assault weapons ban.
We simply can’t let people mourn before politicizing a tragedy like what happened early Sunday morning in Orlando.
First… Omar Mateen did not use an AR-15. He used a Sig Sauer MCX rifle. This is journalism 101 folks, get the facts right. Both are semi-automatic weapons. Both rifles are dangerous in the hands of a homicidal maniac or jihadist, but then again so are handguns, knives, fertilizer and box cutters. They eventually corrected that information, but had it wrong when they first published.
I know we can’t let the facts get in the way of the Register’s agenda and narrative though so moving on…
Second… there are no such things as “assault weapons,” but there are assault rifles. Neither an AR-15 or a Sig Sauer MCX rifle (on the civilian market) are assault rifles. Which the Des Moines Register editorial board erroneously called them both.
What are examples of assault rifles?
- M41A Carbine
- AK 47
- StG 44
- TAR 21
These types of rifles have several things in common. They are select fire rifles. This means you can choose whether you fire semi-automatic (one round for one pull of the trigger) or fully automatic (fires continuously when you pull the trigger). In the case of the M-16A4 and some other rifles the automatic fire option was replaced with a three round burst. Assault rifles in automatic mode can fire hundreds of rounds per minute.
They also have intermediate cartridge which are less powerful that battle rifle or high-powered rifle cartridges, but more powerful than pistol cartridges. The recoil of intermediate cartridges are significantly reduced. Even though these cartridges are less powerful the effective range of most assault rifles are 270-550 yards. Most combat is fought at that distance, and the intermediate cartridge allows the rifle to be lighter, but remain powerful enough for that range. When I was in the Army when we would qualify with our M-16s the target furthest away from us on the range was 300 yards.
Assault rifles also have detachable magazines.
The key difference here is the automatic mode. An AR-15 is not an assault weapon because it is not a select fire rifle. It can only be fired in semi-automatic mode… (more on that later). The same goes for the civilian version of the Sig Sauer MCX.
AR-15s and the Sig Sauer MCX both have an intermediate cartridge. That gives them a longer range than a pistol, but considering most mass shooting events have been indoors it doesn’t give the shooter an advantage.
There is a lot of discussion over detachable magazines. Almost every rifle and handgun has a detachable magazine.
What is considered an assault weapon? The ban that was originally passed in 1994 and expired 10 years later had to define assault weapons. Assault rifles were and still are banned, but gun control advocates wanted to go after weapons that looked too much like assault rifles because they looked scary.
So the law offered the following criteria:
Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
- Folding or telescoping stock
- Pistol grip
- Bayonet mount
- Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
- Grenade launcher mount
Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
- Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
- Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
- Barrel shroud safety feature that prevents burns to the operator
- Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
- A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.
Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:
- Folding or telescoping stock
- Pistol grip
- Detachable magazine.
Not one of these characteristics makes a weapon any more lethal. They are purely cosmetic features.
The 1994 law also banned magazines that allowed more than 10 rounds. This really isn’t a deterrent someone planning a mass shooting just has to bring more magazines. If you are proficient at changing magazines out then it really isn’t going to slow a shooter down.
I know let’s just ban all semi-automatic weapons (which is pretty much every single rifle and pistol) and just allow single shot and bolt action rifles because the 2nd Amendment was just for hunting not self-defense right?
All that gun control laws do is restrict a law-abiding citizen’s freedom. They do nothing to stop a person who is intent on killing a lot of people. Gun control laws don’t change the human heart.
The Des Moines Register, like many other issues, is dead wrong on this and so out-of-touch with everyday Iowans.