Gun Control Series
First of all, happy holidays to you all. I hope you have a safe and sane holiday weekend.
This keeps coming up, so I thought it would be important to dispel some of the myths that gun control advocates spew as fact in an effort to further control or limit access of arms to people in the United States.
Myth #1 Residents of California can go into another state and purchase a firearm and bring it back into the state:
1.) It is illegal (i.e. against Federal Law,) for a resident of one state to go into another and buy a firearm under the Gun Control act of 1968 which was signed into law by president Lyndon B. Jonson. It was signed into law after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by a man who had a rifle which was purchased via mail order, and as a result, interstate shipping of firearms must be sent from one FFL holder to another in order to transfer them for the purchaser essentially banning mail order sales of rifles and shotguns and prohibiting most felons, drug users and people found mentally incompetent from buying guns. It's focus is on interstate commerce and should an individual wish to purchase a firearm out of state, a dealer will send the firearm to a dealer in California to enact the transfer and run the background check, etc.
In addition to this, the gun control act also helps to serve as to establish interstate nexus when gun crimes are committed. this is why dealers must keep bound books as well. what interstate nexus does, is tell the ATF where the gun's point of origin was, who it was sold to as a dealer, and from then who the customer who bought it was, so if a gun was made in Florida, for example, and was found to be used in a crime in Massachusetts, interstate nexus tells them how it ended up there.
2.) Further, in California, it is against state law to purchase a firearm from any other individual without going through a licensed state dealer.
Myth #2 People can go out and buy/ have easy access to 'machine guns' relatively easily:
1.) While people can go out and buy firearms such as an AR-15 (or any of the similar AR variants out there,) or an AK clone, these firearms are not machine guns. Thanks to Hollywood and misrepresentation by the media, these guns are not the same as the rifles our military and foreign militaries use. They are Semi-Automatic rifles, meaning one pull of the trigger for one shot of the rifle. They work on the same principle as a semi-automatic pistol, shotgun, or rimfire rifle. Further, In the AR-15, the auto-sear and axle hole are no longer present, and the disconnector, the trigger, the selector switch, and the bolt carrier were modified, all of which had to be done before the AR-15 could be released to the civilian market. Anyone who says that the AR-15 and the M-16 are the same gun are mistaken.
2.) There are 5 definitions of a machine gun according to federal law. a machine gun is:
1) any firearm that fires more than one shot by a single function of the trigger.
2) the receiver of any machine gun
3) any device with the sole function of converting a semi-auto into a machine gun
4) any combination of parts from which a machine gun can be assembled.
A machine gun for the purpose of our discussion is a firearm that is capable of sustained fire by depressing the trigger and holding it in place, allowing "automatic fire." the parts contained in the military rifle known as the M-16, again, differ from those in the AR-15 both in their design, and in their function. an AR-15 is not capable of the same sustained fire as an M-16. Jerry Miculek, who is one of the fastest trigger-men in the competitive shooting sports world, famously demonstrated that the wild claims certain a California Senator stated, were completely unfounded.
Machine guns, Short barreled shotguns, Silencers, and Any Other Weapons are regulated by the National Firearms Act, which was enacted in 1934. Weapons which are controlled by the NFA are extremely difficult to get. Please note: Machine guns are the only NFA item that cannot be legitimately manufactured except for sales to government agencies, which has been the case since 5/19/86.
What this means is that gun manufacturers cannot manufacture and sell the same rifle that was issued to the military to civilian customers.
Myth #3 an AR-15 is extremely lethal, is a military rifle, and thus should not be owned by the public.
1.) First and foremost: all firearms are lethal, period. There is no such thing as a firearm that is not lethal. AR-15s are not extremely lethal, nor can they fire more bullets than commercially available rifles such as the ruger mini-30, or mini-14, springfield M1 Garants, M1 Carbines, SKSs or any other variant of semi automatic rifle available to the public. They are not "military grade" weapons, nor are they used by the military, again, they had to be modified to a large extent from the M16 before it could be sold to civilians. These firearms certainly are not even more lethal than a bolt gun or a lever action rifle of a larger caliber. I want to reiterate, these guns have been modified and do not contain the same parts that the military uses, regardless of their similar look, so it is a misnomer to call them "military grade."
2.) The AR-15 is usually chambered in a .223" or 5.56mm rifle round. This round, while lethal, is not any more lethal than a .308, 7.62x39, 45acp, 44 magnum, 300 savage, .270, 7mm Mauser, or any other round. in fact, in comparison to some of the rifle and pistol rounds I mentioned, the .223" rifle round's wound ballistics and is usually suited for small game. the military used this round in Vietnam under the principle of "wound one, kill two," meaning the round was not enough usually, to kill the target, but enough to incapacitate the target. In fact, many times in Vietnam, our soldiers would take the arms off of the Vietcong (usually AK47s,) because their 30 caliber round could actually penetrate the dense jungle vegetation, while the .223" / 5.56 could not. It's range is ineffective in such a setting to the point where our soldiers would send home for their 30 caliber bolt guns, as they were more effective.
Most famously , Carlos Hathcock, who was one of the best snipers in the Vietnam war, famously used his Winchester model 70 to greater effect. Currently, in 2017, the Military is even looking for a new main battle rifle and looking for something in the 30 caliber range similar to the M14 rifles from the 50s as our troops are consitantly facing an enemy that uses a larger and more powerful cartridge that they cannot engage effectively at the 500 yard limit of the .223" rifle round. While the premise of the M-16 was that it is lighter in weight than an M-14 and thus you could carry more ammunition, modern warfare is requiring something that allows our troops to engage at a further distance, which mitigates injury to said troops, because the .223 doesn't cut the mustard (and hasn't since the 1960s.)
3.) California, and other state governments would have you believe that the inclusion of detachable magazines, a pistol grip, a flash suppressor, a bayonet lug, and adjustable stock all make the AR-15 more lethal. The simple fact is that they don't.
A pistol grip does not allow you greater accuracy and it does not allow you to "spray fire," any more easily as a rifle with a conventional stock. Hollywood and the media have conjured up pictures of gangsters using Tommy guns or Rambo yelling and shooting machine guns, yelling and "spraying a room full of lead." this is a hysterical waste of ammunition for starters, and any shooter who does this is actually reducing their chances of hitting a target by firing this way. it's great for the movies, but it isn't a great way of hitting what you intend to hit.
An adjustable stock simply allows the rifle to be used by a variety of shooters with different arm lengths. it doesn't increase the concealability, and definitely doesn't make it more lethal.
A flash suppressor does not hide the flash and make it so you cant see somebody shooting at you. ask any LEO or military member who has shot in the dark, and more importantly shot a firearm with a flash suppressor, and they will tell you that there is still a big fireball that comes out of the rifle, it is just directed in such a way to suppress the muzzle flash from your line of sight, but it does not remove the flash itself from being seen.
A bayonet lug simply allows one to affix a bayonet to the rifle. The absurdity of this being one of the "evil features" is such that it is actually the source of mockery within the forensic firearms world because nobody has ever had to investigate a drive by bayoneting. the bayonet is simply a tool of last resort in combat when you're out of ammunition and you've got no other way of fighting. this lug alone doesn't make the rifle more lethal, and you won't ever see gang members bayoneting a rifle.
A detachable magazine does not make the rifle more lethal. in fact, in conjunction with all these other parts, it is not any more lethal than a rifle with a conventional wooden stock with these features. You have to ask yourself one question "why is it okay for a firearm with a wooden stock to have a removable magazine, but not for one with a pistol grip?" Gun control advocates can't answer this question because the defining features of an "assault rifle," to them, are purely cosmetic in nature and are not based in reality. A bolt action can have a pistol grip, and a detachable magazine, in the right hands, is certainly more accurate in its lethality from a technical stand point... and yet a semi-automatic rifle cannot have these features. Why is that? again, it's because the definition is arbitrary and completely made up. Any argument to the contrary is nothing but non-factual baloney.
Myth #4 The AR-15 is an "assault weapon"
in California we have politicians who have specifically defined our AR-15 sporting rifles as assault rifles, based off of looks alone, as I stated above. The following excerpt is from "gunshot wounds: practical aspects of firearms, ballistics, and forensic techniques by Vincent J.M. Di Maio, (a leading authority on gunshot wounds, in which he states regarding assault weapons:
" The term “assault rifle” refers to a rifle that is: (1) auto-loading, (2) has a large-capacity (20 rounds or more) detachable magazine, (3) is capable of full-automatic fire, and (4) fires an intermediate rifle cartridge. This term has been corrupted by the media and some politicians to include most self-loading weapons.
"One of the common fallacies about assault rifles is that the wounds they produce are more severe than those due to ordinary centerfire rifles. In fact,the wounds are less severe than those produced by virtually all hunting rifle seven the Winchester M-94 (introduced in 1894) and its cartridge the .30–30(introduced in 1895). As we shall see in Chapters 3 and 7, in dealing with rifles, the severity of the wound is determined by the amount of kinetic energy lost by a bullet in the body. The intermediate cartridges used in assault rifles possess significantly less kinetic energy than a regular centerfire rifle cartridge. In addition, since most ammunition used in these weapons is loaded with a full-metal jacketed bullet, the wound is even less severe than one might expect. " (pgs 32-33)
In closing, I want to leave you with these final thoughts: You can't cherry pick which laws and rights you wish to have. if you want to go after guns, great, fine, have at it, but fully expect that in doing so, you will also allow for the systematic stripping of rights such as freedom of speech, freedom of press, and the right to a fair and speedy trial. we now live in a time where we have the potential to see exactly why we have the bill of rights, the rights enumerated within it, and why exactly our founding fathers fought, died, and gave us those rights. You cannot hope to have a grasp on a situation when you're not willing to look at things which really make no sense from a sheer technical standpoint.
As always, stay safe and happy shooting.
(The preceeding views and opinions are strictly those of Ken Kraushaar and are in no way those of the NRA or the IFSA.) They do not constitute legal counsel.
Ken Kraushaar is a gunsmith, member of the shooting sports community in northern California, and has been shooting for over 30 years. He is a student with the International Firearms Specialist Academy and lives in Sonoma County, CA