What does “military style” mean? The specific make and model of firearm used by the military? Or the types of actions used in military firearms? Or the gun’s rate of fire? Are we going to define “military style” narrowly or broadly?
Who’s military? Presumably ours, but if we include the military of all countries we’re going to have a very small list of weapons available to the law abiding citizen.
At what point in time do we limit the list of the weapons in use by our military now or at any point in time?
The number of military arms used in just the last 100 years are far too numerous to describe here. Let’s focus on just a few of the primary weapons used by the U.S. military now and their civilian equivalents.
The primary battle rifle of our military now is the M-16 or M-4 (basically the same gun, but the M-4 has a shorter barrel and a collapsible stock), which are both capable of fully automatic fire (pull and hold the trigger and the gun fires until you release the trigger or run out of ammo). The civilian version is the AR-15, which is semi-automatic (pull the trigger and one round goes off).
This is important: when narrowly defined civilians do not have access to “military style” weapons. Military weapons are fully automatic fire and civilian versions are semi-automatic fire.
I will grant you that civilians can possess fully automatic weapons today. Under the National Firearms Act of 1934, if you want a fully automatic firearm, you undergo a more extensive background check, you pay an extra $200, and about six months later you get approval to purchase a fully automatic weapon. These guns are already tightly controlled and tightly monitored by the federal government. Plus, they’re ridiculously expensive. You can purchase an AR-15 for under $1,000. A fully automatic M-4 will set you back in the neighborhood of $20,000.
But we’re not talking about fully automatic weapons. None of the weapons used in any of the mass shootings going back to Columbine were fully automatic.
The Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 refers to semi-automatic weapons, not fully automatic weapons.
Our military currently uses the Beretta M9 handgun, a 9mm semi-automatic pistol that holds 15 rounds. The civilian version is the Beretta 92FS. There is no material difference between the two. Some units in the military still use the Model 1911 (described below).
Except for the magazine capacity, both the M9 and the Beretta 92FS would not be classified as an “assault weapon” in the bill. Neither have any of the features described in the ban to designate them as an “assault weapon.”
But since the military currently uses it, it’s certainly “military style.” Should we ban civilians from owning the civilian version?
Previous rifles used by our military. The M1 Garand is a very large, very heavy semi-automatic rifle which fired the 30-06 Springfield round, a round much larger than the 5.56 mm used in our current military rifle. The Garand fired eight rounds from an internal magazine, the loading of which was a bit tricky. The Garand was in service from 1936 into the early days of Vietnam.
Also previously used was the M1 Carbine, which fired the 30 Carbine round from a detachable magazine. The Carbine was in service from 1942 to the end of Vietnam.
Most Garands and Carbines that I’ve seen would not fit the definition of an assault weapon, which is probably why they’re both specifically named as being exempt from the ban.
And yet these both were used in World War II, Korea and Vietnam.
Does that make sense? Let’s ban “military style” weapons, but let’s not ban the weapons which were actually used in war?
used by our military
Prior to the Beretta M9, the sidearm of the military was the Model 1911 (the Colt 45). It’s called the Model 1911 because it was adopted by the U.S. military during the year 1911. The 1911 is probably the most common handgun in the country. Every major gun manufacturer makes at least one version.
This gun shoots the 45-caliber round and usually comes with a six or eight round magazine.
Most 1911s would not fit the definition of the “assault pistol.” But since some units in the military still use them, would we restrict law abiding citizens from owning this gun as well?
Prior to the Model 1911, the official sidearm of the U.S. military was revolvers. Some were 45-caliber, some older models were 38-caliber. So should we ban all revolvers?
Bolt action rifles, shotguns
While not the most common rifles in the military, there are still many sniper rifles that are bolt action and there are many shotguns used in the military, mostly pump-action.
In the Assault Weapons Ban, both bolt action rifles and pump-action shotguns are not considered assault weapons. Yet, they’re clearly “military style” weapons.
If we’re trying to keep “military style” weapons out of the hands of the public, should we ban these, too?
At some point in time, every firearm in existence was used by some military in the world. Should we restrict them all?
Narrowly defined, i.e. using the fully automatic definition, civilians don’t currently have easy access to “military style” weapons. Fully automatic weapons are not those used by criminals anyway.
Broadly defined, every type of gun and most major gun features originated with the military. So broadly defined, banning “military style” weapons means that all firearms should be banned.
I’m not trying to be obtuse. Really.
You see, gun owners are naturally suspicious when Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-California, introduces legislation that would ban “military style” weapons in the name of “public safety,” when she’s stated her intent pretty clearly and for a very long time: ban the private ownership of all guns.
And the chief of police in San Diego is equally candid with his desire to disarm America. Chief Lansdowne said, “it may take a generation but guns will eventually be taken off the streets through new laws like Sen. Diane Feinstein’s proposed assault weapons ban legislation.” Here’s the link where that was reported by a San Diego news agency: http://www.sandiego6.com/news/local/White-House-Congress-Create-Gun-Buying-Frenzy-After-Newtown-187115371.html#.
But taken from whom? Criminals or law abiding citizens?
• CPA Bill Richardson and his wife, Annelle, have lived in Ahwatukee for more than 17 years. They have four children and one grand-child.