Monday, March 22, 2004

Why is it that everytime I think I can leave the NRA alone for a while they go & say something "ig'nent"?

Chuck Mikel is an attorney & member of the California Rifle & Pistol Association. The CRPA is the state affiliate for the NRA. In a story about the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors considering a ban on the sale of .50 rifles we find this gem from Mr. Michel:

"The message that legitimate hunters and target shooters get from this is that 'you don't count and that we don't care about your sport,' he said"

First of all, what exactly constitutes a "legitimate" hunter? Is it simply someone who is not a poacher? Is it someone who hunts for meat instead of a trophy? I assume he intends to insult millions of children here & abroad by insinuating that Robin of Locksley was not a "legitimate" hunter. (if you've forgotten, re-read almost any Robin Hood story & you'll see he became an outlaw for poaching the King's deer.)

But the bigger picture is that Michel only attempts to justify "sporting" use of firearms. Self defense isn't something anyone could legitimately call "sporting" & resisting a tyrannical government through force of arms is definitely not "sporting". (although it's better to have a "sporting" chance than an unsporting one.)

& if you look closely, most gun control laws claim to protect arms for "sporting" use. The other side of that is that any arms which don't have a "sporting" use are fair targets for licensing, registration or outright prohibitons. Does anyone wish to look through the records & count how many times someone said that "assault weapons" have no "sporting use" back in the early 1990's? Legitimizing a "sporting use" ideaology is just throwing the door open a little wider for gun control laws.

Now hopefully this next part will scare the hell out of you: go through your house & list every firearm you own that does not have a specific sporting use. Most of your shotguns & .22 rifles will be okay, as will any single shot, lever action, double barreled or pump action rifles. Some bolt action rifles & possible a semi-automatic rifle like the Remington 7400 or Browning BAR (definitely not to be confused with the 1918A1 or A2 BAR) will be okay. (note: is it just me or does the autoloaders that are likely to have a "sporting use" look more like air rifles than real firearms?) Certain revolvers will probably make the grade as well as long as they have a barrel that's over 5" &/or have special features such as a thumb rest for use in pistol matches (think bullseye competition).

But any military surplus rifles (even bolt actions), most semi-automatic rifles (except the Remington & Browing mentioned above), all pistol caliber carbines (with the sole exception of Ruger's carbine in .44 magnum), all semi-automatic pistols & any concealable revolvers not chambered for .44 magnum or some other appropriate hunting cartridge will not have any legitimate sporting purpose. & don't come whining to me about High Power Rifle or IDPA matches - they won't care. If you cannot hunt with it or shoot in a recognized target compeititon (& remember the ones who write the laws don't even realize that High Power matches have used military arms since their inception 100 years ago or that handguns can be used for hunting) then it won't be protected under the "sporting use" doctrine & will be subject ot bans at the whim of the legislature. Self defense &/or defense against a tyrannical government won't be considered "sporting use".

When The NRA & its state affiliates start arguing that "sporting" is a secondary defense of the Right to Arms while the main one is simply defense then I'll consider joining them.

a big deal has been made about another quote from Mr. Michel in the same article:

"A .50-caliber rifle is a pea shooter for a terrorist," he said. "The real problem is not the gun, it's the ammunition. If you use explosive ammunition, it doesn't matter what the caliber is."

The next paragraph includes the following:

"Such explosive, armor-piercing ammunition is already illegal, he noted."

So taken altogether I don't see this as being incorrect. However while technically he may be correct this has got to be one of the worst examples of a quote in defense of gun ownership.

First of all he admits there is a problem. He then attempts to shift the focus from the firearm to the ammunition. Then he attempts reassurance by pointing out that explosive ammo is already illegal.

He takes the defensive & gets tangled up in doing so. If I were a gun control advocate I could teach any 7th grader how to pick apart his statement. It's a shame when both sides are able to use your own statements against you isn't it?

I don't know how many times this must be repeated, but there is no "problem" with .50 caliber rifles. Hell, there's no problem with any firearm. I have yet to see one isntance where a .50 caliber rifle has been used by a criminal or a terrorist (government agents excluded) against a civilian target in the U.S. Now potentially it could happen, but potentially covers a lot of ground. The potential is there for a person to hijack a bus (another mobile civilian disarmament zone I might point out) & run it into some sensitive structure such as "...(t)elecommunications towers, industrial plants such as oil refineries, and railroad cars..." to name a few examples that were listed by proponents of the .50 caliber ban. But we don't go around banning buses do we? Hell, we haven't banned airplanes & they were the instrument used in a terrorist act that resulted in the murder of 3,000+ people in NYC! So banning something that has the potential for use by terrorists makes no sense especially considering that we don't ban things that have actually been used by terrorists.

But Mr. Michel took the low ground & consented that there is a "problem" to be dealt with. He shifts the blame to the ammunition that could be used in a terrorist attack. Now would you like to know the biggest "problem" we have with ammunition in this country? Mil-Surp .30-06: sure, it's $0.20 someodd a round now but the supply is drying up. That's what I consider a "problem". Again I have seen no examples of "...explosive, armor-piercing ammunition..." being used by a criminal or terrorist in this country (government agents excluded). I haven't even seen any meaningful examples of armor piercing ammunition being used by a criminal or terroist (government agents excluded). Any armor piercing ammo that has been used in any way did not affect the outcome any differently than non-armor piercing ammunition would have. I don't want to repeat myself so I'll refer you to this previous post. Scroll down a bit & you'll see where armor piercing ammo is discussed. The gist of it is that almost any rifle, including those chambered for cartridges that are over 100 years old, can pierce armor with ordinary hunting ammo. In the post I'm mainly discussing bullet proof vests, but any light armor can be pierced by a common hunting rifle using common hunting ammo at certain ranges. It's simple physics that a projectile with a certain amount of momentum has a certain amount of energy & if sufficient it will cause the projectile to penetrate a certain material such as steel. Now of course there is ammo made specifically to penetrate armored targets. But no civilian target in the U.S. has ever been attacked succesfully with armor piercing ammo when regular hunting ammo would have failed.

So there is no ammunition "problem" unless you feel that all ammunition should be banned. (well of course there is that faction of gun owners who think that ammo prices should be lower than they are, but that's another topic altogether).

But the final mistake he made was in stating that explosive, armor piercing ammo was already illegal. In doing so he knowingly or unknowlignly gives credence to the idea that prohibitons work. He simply cannot argue that prior restraint based gun control is ineffective after saying that.

Not to mention he's incorrect unless he's simply referring to California. It doesn't include an "in California" qualifier to his statement about the laws concerning ammo so if one assumes he meant a Federal law then he'd be incorrect. API, or Armor Piercing Incendiary ammo is still available through legal channels in most states. There's not much of it left but API rounds are available except in states which have banned it. Now before you get all upset let me reiterate that there has never been an instance of API ammo being used in any violent criminal action by a criminal or terrorist (government agents excluded). I do believe that California bans any ammo that can start a fire & if so that would include incendiary ammo. If there is a California law banning explosive &/or incedniary ammo (like I seem to recall) then Mr. Michel would be correct in his statement, although it'd have been helpful if the reporter made it clear he was referring to a California context & not a national one.

But Mr. Michel did not help as much as he thinks he might have. His statements could easily be used against him & gun owners in general. In a single article he's legitimized the "sporting use" mindset of moderate gun control laws; he's admitted there's a problem concerning ammunition (when there isn't one) & he's claimed that gun control has solved that problem (the explosive ammo ban).

I admit I'm pretty hard on the NRA. I don't approve of their actions concerning gun control & their actions lead me to believe that through ignorance or malice they are more of a hinderance than an asset to the Right to Arms. I really wish this wasn't the case. I wish the NRA would turn themselves around & start fighting the good fight. But with statements like those of Mr. Michel my belief is reinforced that the NRA management (both state & national) is out of touch with the gun owners they claim to represent.

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