Thursday, March 28, 2013

The modern rifle and its foes

The gun works the bolt for you, which is really all that "semi-automatic" means. 

The modern sporting rifle is self-loading and feeds from detachable magazines, which may be of any convenient size. These weapons are mischaracterized by anti-gunners as battlefield weapons of mass death, which no mere private citizen should have, but that's nonsense. These are not machine guns. You aim, press the trigger, a bullet comes out, and then you must aim again and press again if you wish to fire another shot. So then each trigger press releases a single shot, and each shot must be aimed if you want to hit anything. Some of these guns share the basic action designs of military full-auto rifles, but that is because the military actions have proven reliable. It makes sense to base a sporting or general purpose rifle on a proven mechanism. That is why the sporting rifle looks like the military rifle, a matter which frightens and confuses the ignorant. But after all it is only a matter of outward appearance.

That outward similarity has been cynically exploited by anti-gun crusaders, as here:
"...The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons."
 --Josh Sugarmann, Assault Weapons and Accessories in America, 1988
Mr. Sugarmann is director of the Violence Policy Center, and no friend of your gun rights, but he does know enough to recognize the fundamental difference between a modern rifle based on a military action and an actual assault rifle.

For reasons of law, custom and practicality, the full auto feature is deleted in sporting rifles. Among the practical reasons is that the full auto gun can't be tuned up to have a good trigger pull, of the kind hunters and target marksmen like. Another is that few people, unless Uncle Sam is buying their ammo, can afford to shoot a machine gun often enough to become any good with it. A rifleman buys his cartridges by the box, perhaps by the case. A machine gunner needs his by the pallet or truckload. Furthermore, full auto fire from a lightweight rifle is seldom useful, even in self defense use--bullets go everywhere. For such reasons as these, few people choose to take on the expense and bother of registering and owning an actual automatic weapon.

The previous generation of sporting rifles, the hunting guns everyone these days finds prosaic, ordinary and not particularly threatening, were based on successful military rifles. The bolt action fighting rifles from Mauser, and their competitors, became the basis for the last generation of sporting rifles. They were also the most efficient military rifles of their day. The bolt action military rifle showed that a certain action mechanism worked better than those tried previously. Civilians began using the same pattern for target shooting, hunting and self defense. That is just what is happening today, with the AR. A better idea has come along and people are adopting it, just as they did previously with the bolt action, and before that, the lever action, the breechloader, the percussion cap and the flintlock--all of them advances in their times.

The clever modular design of the modern AR rifle is such that you can change its caliber, its length, its sights, its trigger; it is a great deer rifle if chambered in 6.8 SPC or 7.62 x 39 Russian, excellent for farm pests if chambered for .223 Remington or .204 Ruger. For inexpensive target shooting, many shooters convert their AR's to the ever popular .22 Long Rifle,  an accurate cartridge that is economical and pleasant to shoot.

Essentially, our panicked sisters over at the Democratic Party, and at the other gun control advocacy groups, want to turn back the hands of time, ignore a century of gun progress and pretend that rifle shooters are not inveterate tinkerers and experimenters, who are always looking for better, more efficient ways of doing things. Legislative Luddites, they want us all stuck back in 1898 with the Mauser.

An advantage the AR holds for sportsmen is that a humane finishing shot, if required, comes a bit sooner from a semi-automatic, because you do not have to lift, withdraw and push home the bolt. The gun works the bolt for you, which is really all that "semi-automatic" means. While the ideal is to kill game cleanly with the first shot, sometimes that does not happen and the hunter's goal then is to minimize suffering with a second shot and do it immediately.

As a home defense rifle, the AR has, as I have pointed out previously, several advantages. Contrary to what Joe Biden pretends to know about it, the AR-15 is a very easy rifle to shoot. Its ergonomic controls, straight line stock and light recoil make it much easier to manage than Biden's double barrel bunny blaster, particularly if you need more than two shots.

To everyone's initial surprise, years ago, the AR ended up ruling the roost in the Service Rifle National Matches, but by now everyone knows the AR platform can be the basis for an outstanding target rifle.

So then, looking to the present political situation, we have a program of ongoing intentional misrepresentations from leftist politicians, trying to scare people over imaginary machine guns, with the net effect if they succeed of messing with progress, with no demonstrable hope of improving anyone's safety. Perhaps they feel they "must do something," even if it is the wrong something. It is not the right course to shut down progress in developing and refining gun technology, based upon a lie.

Civilian experimenters have been responsible for a great deal of progress in rifle accuracy and ammunition improvements over the years, progress that has helped our nation's military efficiency in some instances, and it is progress that will come to a halt if we no longer have the latest guns to tinker with.

We will, incidentally, become quite ill prepared to deal with tyrants, as per the purpose of the Second Amendment, but I do not suppose our Democrat friends are thinking about that, in particular. They appear to think that concern is irrelevant in our times. Thus they do not think I should be concerned about it, either. I find this reasoning unconvincing. No one foretells the future with certainty, but there are some alarming lessons to be learned from the past. On that basis, the Second Amendment is not obsolete unless tyranny is impossible. The right to keep and bear arms means efficient arms, and there have been a few advances in efficiency since Paul Mauser built his bolt action masterpiece back in 1898. That is how we need to look at the question of the modern sporting rifle; the civilian AR is a logical and timely development based on the technology of our era, and the civilian's link to understanding and being proficient with present arms technology.

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