Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Gunday: The Folly of Gun Restriction

Why I get upset by gun restriction, simplified edition:

Let's say a law is passed -- oh, let's call it the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, just for giggles -- preventing civilians (meaning: non-military personnel) from owning military-style weapons. I would expect most people to think that law only affects "army stuff":  assault rifles, machine guns, etc.

But here's the problem I have with that law, aside from its dubious constitutionality: poor definitions that lend themselves to slippery-slope enforcement.

You see, officers and members of the military police are regularly issued carry pistols. The regulation pistol of the US Armed Forces is the Beretta M9, a 9mm semi-auto magazine that uses a 15 round detachable magazine. It is also immensely popular in its civilian version, the Beretta 92 (probably because veterans, having returned their issued sidearm and wanting to own one for private use, decide to purchase a pistol identical to what they have trained with). 

So when legislation says that "military style weapons" are forbidden for civilian ownership, it suddenly becomes a non-trivial point of legislation if this pistol is restricted because it is, in fact, issued and used by the US Armed Forces.

Is this pistol restricted because it's military issue? If not, you need a better definition than "military-style weapon".* Perhaps something like above a certain caliber, or fully automatic as opposed to semi-automatic, or any number of other things --  at which point I refer you to the 1934 National Firearms Act. **

If it is restricted, why? Is it just because it's used by the military? If that is your argument then please say yes, that I may laugh at you as I point out the large variety of pistol types used by militaries around the world. You might as well just outlaw every pistol above 9mm and .40 caliber.

Or are you going to try to stretch your definition to mean "any magazine-fed semi-auto weapon", i.e. the evil features argument? Because if you go down that road you're basically saying that civilians should only ever own revolvers, pump shotguns, and bolt-action rifles -- in which case just come right out and say THAT. I would at least appreciate your honesty in the matter.  You'd still be wrong, of course, because my five-round, bolt-action Mosin-Nagant rifle was -- guess what? -- the primary infantry rifle of Russia/USSR from 1891 until 1936 or so, and still sees action to this day:
Even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mosin–Nagants are still commonly found on modern battlefields around the world. They are being used by insurgent forces in the Iraq War and the current war in Afghanistan. Separatists have also used the rifles alongside more modern Russian firearms in the Second war in Chechnya.  

How about shotguns? They're okay, right? You'd be wrong, because the pump-action 12-gauge Mossberg 590A1 is used by the US Army.

In conclusion: The term "military-style weapon" is an arbitrary definition that means absolutely nothing. The bolt-action hunting rifles of today were (in design, if not in actuality) the infantry rifles of a century ago; pistol calibers as small as .32 have been military issue; and even manual shotguns are military-issue.

So when people say that they want to "keep military-style weapons out of the hands of civilians," please note how that definition can be stretched to encompass basically everything that doesn't fall into the very narrow category between .17 HMR and .25 ACP for pistols and rifles, and possibly single-shot shotguns in the .410 to 20-gauge range. 

In other words, they want us effectively disarmed; they just don't have the courage to say so, and instead of doing it by force (which will backfire) they will attempt to do it through creeping legislation that outlaws firearms by slices as they constantly define what is "military".

* This phrase should be read in such tone of voice as to imply an unspoken "you idiot" after the main clause.
** See above.


  1. It gets even worse the further down the rabbit hole you go.   I know many avid hunters who hunt with honest-to-god Military rifles.  M1 Garands, M1903 Springfields,  K98 Mausers, and a smattering of Mosin Nagants.   Not because they're military guns, but when the military upgraded to new guns they sold them on the private market for dirt cheap, and these people bought them, and often "Sporterized" them to make them better hunting guns.

    The k98 and the M1903 are near identical guns (The US Gov paid Mauser for production rights when the 1903 got its start), because the Mauser action is considered one of the best and strongest bolt actions on the market...because of this most civilian sporting guns are based on the Mauser military rifle.

    Same goes for a bunch of other guns.   Same goes for ammo.   .30-06, .308 Win, .223 Rem, as well as 9x19, and .45 ACP are popular cartridges because military surplus guns and ammo made them good choices for shooters.

    Really there are very few guns that don't have some tie to a weapon of war.  When you expand this to guns issued to police, it really trickles down to almost nothing.

    Hell Mossberg alone made its start not making their ubiquitous shotguns, but by making .22 training rifles for the military.

    Even the gun owner with the most contempt for the 2nd Amendment has SOMETHING that can be considered "Military" or "Police".

  2. Heck that's a big reason why 45GAP exists.

    And the sole reason why 9×21mm IMI exists.  Which is a 2mm extension of the Parabellum.  Because some countries (Italy and Mexico do exactly that and ban any "military" calibers)

     And to, if I recall correctly, to convert between calibers you just need a differently chambered barrel. Commence the bleating of "evil looooophole!"

    Not to mention the rifle variants of "military" cartridges.

  3. The problem with "military style" firearms is that the military is always a few steps behind in firearm technology. Civilians have access to firearms that the military might adopt at some point in the future- does that mean that we will then be stripped of those guns because the military is now using them? The military does not produce or create firearms. They look at what the civilian market has and buys/orders from the manufacturer based on what they decide would be good for our soldiers. 

    Also, our soldiers carry guns that are chosen after vigorous testing to make sure that they are the tools that they are supposed to be- that they perform when needed and have few issues.They are not chosen because they are "evil' or that they look intimidating- they are chosen because they will not let our armed forces down when their lives depend on them. This would be like forcing civilians to drive Geo metros because the military is using hondas. 
    Lets also not forget that our domestic "armed forces" (the police) is not always as trained as we'd like them to be. I have friends that can handle a firearm much more proficiently than any police officer I have seen. 

    Our founding fathers thought so highly of our right to bare arms that they made it the second amendment. We need it to not be infringed upon in order to keep all of our other rights. Why don't people understand this?

  4. We settled with Mauser long after WW1.  In fact we were dragging it out hoping that Mauser would go tits-up suffering under Versailles.

    They finally got us to pay up when they agreed to not charge us for the numerous patent violations that we'd racked up with the Krag-Jørgensen (and Krag-Jørgensen had already made their own settlement for).

    Another factoid is the M1903 is more a copy of the Mauser 96, which we faced in the Spanish American War.

  5. The Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land.  Laws, treaties, executive agreements, et cetera, may not overide it.

    The chief concern, as always, with gun control is how the second amendment is interpreted.

  6. Why don't people understand this?

    Because guns are scaaaary, and people would rather surrender all their freedom in order to live in world without fear.

    You want to know what else has no freedom but lives without fear?

    A pet.

  7. Additionally, there's not a single type of firearm in existence that isn't military if you go back far enough.  Especially since hunting weapons are always drafted into service when there's even a hint of a shortage of issue arms.

    Almost every scoped bolt gun is a minor variation on the venerable Mauser, and most of the rest are still descendants.

    As Weer'd said, there are also the no-shit issued at one time mil-guns too.  How many of those are out there?

  8. 'Course, if you really want to freak out a "gun control" extremist, tell them that this device was not only issued to an active-duty military once upon a time, but that it is also not a "firearm":

    That Model 96/11 was constructed in 1898, and thus is defined as an "antique firearm" by the BATFE, and can be purchased in most states without a background check or paperwork of any type.  However, it also shoots a still-commonly-available cartridge that is roughly comparable to 7.62x51 (and has a wicked-cool action).  

    They unquestionably want us disarmed, but they have absolutely no idea how to accomplish that, and are generally making asses of themselves in the process.  It would be amusing if it were not our rights and safety on the table.  

  9. 45GAP is a shortened 45 caliber round capable of fitting in 9mm/40S&W size frames, rather than needing an elongated grip.


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