Which Guns Go?

This video points out some of the absurdity in proposed weapons bans in the aftermath of the Newtown massacre. The video‚Äôs creator is not in favor of weapons or magazine bans of any kind, it seems, and points out that at least one proposal, on magazine size, is functionally useless. Well then, he has made a very strong argument that soft measures are pointless, so it’s time to get draconian.

I’ve been thinking about guns a lot since the massacre. I’ve always thought that putting weapons of war in a civilian’s hands is ridiculous. No one in this country needs to own a rifle that is designed for killing people. Despite what is said in the video, a semi-automatic rifle capable of popping off thirty shots that quickly is an assault rifle. Any other definition is just hiding behind semantics. After all, by the definition in the video, the M1 Garand, an assault rifle used in World War II by millions of American troops, is not an assault rifle. What constitutes an assault rifle in the public mind and what constitutes it inside gun culture may be different, but we’re talking about public safety. I have some thoughts on just what kinds of weapons should no longer be available for sale.

Semi-automatic rifles are capable of firing quite quickly. Slowing down the rate of fire will save lives. Any legislation with teeth should start with banning the manufacture and sale of semi-automatic rifles. Bolt action only.

Magazine size and speed of loading both contribute to rate of fire. The video showed that for a practiced and prepared shooter, magazine size doesn’t make much of a difference, and even if a ban on large magazines was enacted, it’s almost impossible to enforce. Therefore, the solution is to ban the manufacture of rifles capable of being loaded with external magazines or clips. Allow only rifles that have to be loaded one bullet at a time, with a capacity of no more than five rounds.

Bolt action, individually loaded, small capacity rifles. Ideal for hunting and fighting wars in the 1800s, but not for killing lots of people in a small amount of time. Think the Springfield Model 1892-99. The U.S. military bought hundreds of thousands of those weapons, and found they were outmatched by the weapons the Spanish used in Cuba. It was an ineffective weapon at killing people because it could not be fired or reloaded quickly enough. I think we have our base model.

Anyone who would argue against this idea is advocating for the ability to kill more people. Anyone who is arguing that they need assault rifles to battle government aggression is living in a fantasy world where a gun will save them from a hostile state. If we ever do live out the nightmare scenario of having to take up arms against our government, I think we’ll find that our guns will not save us. At first it will be a slaughter, then organization will come, followed by imports of AK-47s from elsewhere in the world. Sound ridiculous? So does needing to be armed and prepared to fight against one of the most stable governments of the last 240 years.

Legislation regarding handguns can use ideas similar to those outlined above. Semi-automatic handguns have a high rate of fire, and they can be reloaded quickly. Therefore, revolvers it is. But not just any revolvers. Double-action revolvers can fire more quickly than single-action. Tough legislation regarding handguns, then, would include banning the sale and manufacture of semi-automatic handguns and double-action revolvers. Maximum capacity could be kept to six rounds, and cylinders should be kept fixed to prevent the use of quick loaders.

As for shotguns, they are the odd man out in the debate over legislation, but applying the ideas regarding rifles to shotguns seems a fair solution. This would keep pump-action and breech-loaded varieties legal, while outlawing so-called assault shotguns.

These ideas, combined with background checks, waiting periods, and a robust buyback program of all weapon and magazine types, would do nothing to prevent a massacre like Newtown, but they would do much to reduce its lethality. I think this is more than just a good place to start. The fact is, countries without an armed citizenry are markedly less deadly than ours. Short of banning guns outright, this is the minimum we should expect of any gun control legislation.