So what if they are ‘weapons of war’?
The difference between ‘sniper rifles’ and ‘precision rifles’
An ESPN Outdoors article looks at efforts on the part of the firearms industry to give the AR-15 family of rifles (the dreaded so-called “assault weapons”) a less menacing face, by placing a renewed emphasis on the rifles’ suitablity for hunting.
“Modern sporting rifles are constantly being misrepresented and called terrorist weapons in the media,” NSSF [National Shooting Sports Foundation] spokesman Mark Thomas said. “Our campaign has the twofold purpose of developing an understanding among sportsmen about this type of rifle and to dispel some of the myths about these rifles among the general media.
As that quote shows, the new terminology NSSF hopes to popularize replaces “assault weapon” with “modern sporting rifle.” Getting rid of the “assault weapon” term is certainly a laudable effort. That pejorative term is an invention of the forcible citizen disarmament lobby’s–a deliberate and calculated effort to sow fear of these firearms among the media and public.
In a September 1988 report on “assault weapons” that he prepared for the Education Fund to End Handgun Violence, gun control advocate Josh Sugarmann [exectuive director of the rabidly anti-gun Violence Policy Center] candidly observed: “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 guncan only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these guns.”
The NSSF can also make a good case for the argument that these rifles can make very capable hunting arms. Remington, for example, now has it’s own line of rifles based on the AR-15 pattern, available in a range of calibers, including some that are more than adequate for deer. Accuracy, by all accounts, is quite on a par with all but the most expensive and sophisticated bolt-action rifles.
Another argument for engaging in this effort to foster broader public support for the idea that these guns are useful sporting arms is that the Heller ruling seems, unfortunately, to support more protection for the right to own weapons “in common use at the time,” than those that are not (which begs the question, “does that mean that brand new weapon designs, which of course cannot be ‘in common use at the time,’ can be banned at will?”), and finds prohibitions of “dangerous and unusual weapons” to be “presumptively lawful.” The more AR-15s show up in the woods and fields during hunting season, the more difficult it will become to call them “unusual.”
Still, I can summon little enthusiasm for the idea that we should retreat on the “sporting purposes” front. The Second Amendment–10% of the Bill of Rights–was not bestowed on us to protect our right to engage in sport. Thwarting would-be tyrants is hardly likely to be a fun or relaxing activity–just one that would be utterly necessary to keep our way of life.
By referring to militia-appropriate arms as “modern sporting rifles,” are we not, to some degree, acquiescing to the idea of civilian ownership of firerams being limited to those that have a “sporting purpose”?
It certainly seems that way to me–and I am utterly unwilling to surrender that point.
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