At approximately 8:30AM this morning, an active shooter opened fire in the Old National Bank building in downtown Louisville, Kentucky, killing five people and injuring nine others as of the time of this post.
According to the Louisville Metro Police, it’s believed that the active shooter, who is also dead, was an employee of the bank, but as of right now, a motive has not been determined and the type of firearm(s) not disclosed.
That didn’t stop the public from lighting up Facebook with the “ban all assault weapons” argument even though, it hasn’t been determined what type of firearm(s), the active shooter used.
However, thanks to the media and some of our elected officials in office, the public is being led to believe that “assault weapons” are the problem. Are they?
What Is The Definition of an Assault Weapon?
That’s the tricky question.
Some individual states have their own definition of what an “assault weapon” is while some federal jurisdictions have their own definition of what an “assault weapon” is.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.”
In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use. – U.S. Department of Justice
According to the National Firearms Act of 1934, “assault rifles (not assault weapons”) are rifles that are selective fire and capable of firing more than one round at a time per trigger pull. All assault rifles are capable of automatic fire. In layman’s terms, that means that you pull the trigger back once, hold it back and the weapon will continue to fire automatically until the magazine is empty, or the trigger is released.
This act imposed a very strict registration process as well as an expensive tax stamp for approval for a firearms with automatic firing capability which is still in use today.
The Defense Intelligence Agency defines assault rifles as “short, compact, selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between sub-machine gun and rifle cartridges.”
According to the American Association of Pediatrics, “Assault weapons are dangerous, military-style guns that are built to do the most damage and kill or maim the maximum number of people in the shortest amount of time. Assault weapons are distinguishable from other semiautomatic firearms based on the combat-style features that allow a shooter to control the weapon while quickly discharging large amounts of ammunition.”
But what exactly are those “combat-style features”? Iron sights? Night sights? A “red dot”? A flash light? All of those can easily be mounted to a semi-automatic pistol.
Today, more and more of these definitions are being re-written to specifically include semi-automatic rifles and in particular, the AR-15.
As a result, much of the public has come under the belief that the AR in AR-15 stands for “assault rifle – it does not.
History of the AR-15
The “AR” in “AR-15” comes from the name of the company that first developed it – Armalite Inc. or “Armalite Rifle Model 15”. It doesn’t stand for “assault rifle” or “automatic rifle”.
In 1956, Eugene Stoner presented his Armalite Rifle Model 10 design to the U.S. military for evaluation as a replacement for the M1 Garand. The Army was searching for a new rifle in order to meet the requirement for rifles chambered in 7.62 NATO which has been adopted two years earlier. In the end, the Army didn’t accept Stoner’s design and chose to go with the heavy, full sized Springfield M14, but other countries, including Spain, saw the genius in Stoner.
Stoner went back to the drawing board, and came up with a slimmed down version of the Model 10 which became, the AR-15.
Unfortunately, by 1959, Armalite, Inc. was experiencing financial hardship and ended up selling the AR-15 design to Colt.
The AR-15 eventually found its way into the Vietnam war, but it wasn’t a huge success. Not because of the rifle itself, but because of the company that the U.S. military contracted with to supply ammunition for the rifle.
In order to quickly meet the high demand for ammunition to fuel the war, the Olin Corporation (Winchester), changed the type of gun powder they were using from ball powder to Dupont stick powder which has less ignition and velocity and much greater fouling.
After the war ended, Colt continued manufacturing the AR-15 for the civilian market, but without the automatic firing mechanism, and in much lower quantities, since demand for the rifle just wasn’t there.
In 1977, Colt’s patent for the AR-15 expired and other companies jumped on it and began manufacturing their own versions under the AR-15 nameplate.
Ban all Assault Weapons or Ban all Firearms?
So as you can see above, there are many definitions of what “assault weapon” means, but one common denominator that I see in the definitions is “military-style”. But what defines “military style”?
Is it the look, the feel, the trigger, the accessories? No. It’s the firing mechanism.
Most of our military troops, including the elite operations units such as the Navy Seals and the Army’s Delta Force do not use rifles that only have semi-automatic firing capability. They use rifles that are equipped with automatic firing capability.
That isn’t the same as the rifles or AR-15s sold to civilians.
So when everyone starts shouting “ban all assault weapons”, what they are really saying is “ban all rifles with semi-automatic firing capability”. But there’s a problem with that.
Rifles and Pistols Basically Use The Same Firing Mechanism
Putting aside revolves for the sake of argument, semi-automatic pistols basically use the same firing mechanism as an AR-15 (which we will use here for the sake of argument and rifles in general).
Both are semi-automatic. Both require you to pull the trigger back once to fire off one round, eject the spent shell, and reload a new round into the chamber.
Each time you pull the trigger back, a single shot is fired. If you hold the trigger back on a semi-automatic pistol or AR-15, it does not continue firing. You have to release the trigger in order to fire the weapon again.
But What About Magazine Capacity?
With an AR-15, an active shooter has to use large magazines that can hold up to 30 rounds of ammunition. Those magazines tend to be significantly larger and heavier when fully loaded than standard pistol magazines holding 9mm rounds.
What’s my point?
I can easily strap on a pistol on each hip, one on my back, one near my appendix, and one on each ankle, and then mount multiple magazines on my belt, and in my pockets.
A person with the intent and motive to kill another human being, or group of human beings, can cause just as much death and destruction with a few pistols and mags strapped to their person as they can with an AR-15 and 30 round mags.
So if the firing mechanism is basically the same between an AR-15 and a semi-automatic pistol, then what good is banning “assault weapons” going to do?
Firearms don’t have a mind of their own. They don’t suddenly sprout appendages, walk up to someone and shoot them.
It’s the person behind the weapon with the motive and intent to harm or kill another human being.
There’s no such thing as “gun violence”, but there is such thing as “human violence”. And “human violence” has been on a drastic increase over the last decade.
If you’re going to ban rifles with semi-automatic firing capability, then you should ban all firearms across the board.
But that doesn’t come without its consequences either.
Stay tuned because we’ll address that issue coming up in a separate article soon.
As always, let us know your thoughts below!