Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

May 13, 2013

STUMPTALK: The right to bear arms

By Phil Billington
Chronicle contributor

CROSSVILLE — The anti-gun activists are wacky as a June bug for their solutions to eliminate gun-violence. They have it backwards. Instead of going after those that perpetrate these despicable acts, they are mounting attacks on law-abiding citizens, restriction of access to firearms, limiting magazine size and universal background checks. Unwarranted background checks, a precursor to confiscation, constitute unlawful searches in violation of the 4th Amendment. Where’s the probable cause the amendment requires? Politicians who go around spouting that gun clip capacity should be capped are themselves protected by thousands of rounds 24/7 by expert marksmen. How dare they deny ordinary citizens the same protection? The usual rhetoric is, “you don’t need 30 rounds to shoot a deer.” True, but deer don’t shoot back.

Instead of targeting 55 million lawful gun owners, the activists should go after the mentally disturbed individuals that commit these heinous shooting sprees, like the Texas tower sniper, the Aurora Theater mass-killings, the Newtown school shooting and the Fort Hood killer, etc. To start, we need a watch list of those with proven potential to do harm? Consider two cases each representing potential harm to society: (1) a parent or guardian who neglects to seek treatment for a mentally disturbed child who has repeatedly shown harmful behavior; (2) a legal gun-owner who is reckless in the protection of his firearm, whereby it falls in the hands of someone who then kills or wounds an innocent person. In my opinion, both of these individuals are just as guilty as those committing the actual crime and should also be placed on the watch list.

Should some types of firearms be restricted despite the protection of the 4th amendment? Yes, but with certain stipulations. Let me be specific. It is instructive to look at military weapons which have led the development of firearms from early times. In pre-WWII days, the old WWI Springfield .30 caliber bolt-action rifle was replaced by the M1 carbine (.30 caliber semi-automatic) as the standard combat rifle. Instead of moving the bolt in the Springfield to eject the spent round and insert a new one in the chamber, this action was achieved in the M1 by the blowback of gases from the fired round. Both guns required pulling the trigger to fire each round.

Toward the end of WWII a fierce firearm development program based on the M1 was underway. Most notably were the fully-automatic .50 caliber M2 and .45 caliber M3 designed also as anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. The M3 was often called the “grease gun” by troops because it resembled the mechanic’s tool used to grease the ball-joints in a Model-A Ford. Although most inductees received an introduction to the M3, its issue even in the military was very limited, i.e., paratroopers, snipers and personnel to protect the president, etc., because of the certified skill required. The technique taught was to pull the trigger to click off two or three rounds at a time. I saw soldiers severely punished for holding the trigger to empty the entire 15 rounds. The reason this was dangerous was because the violent recoil of repeated fire would cause the barrel to rise. Hence, only the first couple of bullets would likely hit the target whereas the others would go astray. This gun is definitely not suitable for ordinary citizens. The Constitution guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear Arms, but it is reasonable that the purchase of certain firearms first require certification.

After the war, the Russians developed an M3 replacement, the fully-automatic Avtomar Kalashmkova (AK-47). The AK-47 was the first truly “assault rifle” and is the standard combat weapon used by armies around the world. Unlike the M3, the AK-47 has selectable modes, namely either a constant fire mode or a safer single shot mode. Because the constant fire mode could be accidently selected, this weapon is not suitable for home protection.

Activists, generally with little knowledge of what constitutes an “assault rifle” are also calling for the ban of the AK-47 look-alike, the sportsman semi-automatic AR-15. This weapon requires no more skill to shoot than your sportsman .22 caliber rifles. Often you hear the weak compromise, “buy a double-barrel shotgun for self protection.” This weapon is very effective for a face-to-face threat, but the problem is that the pellets spread very rapidly and at even a distant killing range you are likely to hit an innocent bystander.