The cacophony of the gun debate has been escalating since Sandy Hook. This hit an apex with Alex Jones appearance on the Piers Morgan show on CNN. Jones acted like a rabid animal, screaming abuse and rage. This is a man owns fifty guns, but on that day what he really needed was a straitjacket.
Why does anyone need a military style assault rifle?
It is hard to conceive that a civilian needs a military style assault rifle under any normal circumstances. There is no need to pump thirty or even a hundred rounds into a deer. So why are these weapons so popular? I can come up with only two reasons to own an assault rifle: to deal with extreme situations of civil unrest, and to wage war on the government.
Let’s start with civil unrest. In 1992 during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, there were shopkeepers on the roofs of their shops with assault rifles to protect their property from rioters and looters. This was a seemingly defensive use of these weapons during a time when the police were powerless because of the state of civil unrest.
Widespread looting, assault, arson and murder occurred during the riots, and estimates of property damage topped one billion dollars. The rioting ended after soldiers from the California Army National Guard, along with U.S. Marines from Camp Pendleton were called in to stop the rioting. In total 53 people were killed during the riots and over two thousand people were injured.
“1992 Los Angeles Riots.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 01 Sept. 2013. Web. 09 Jan. 2013.
The problem with using assault rifles to defend private property is that it could lead to an escalating arms race. Instead of defending their shops against rioters throwing rocks and bottles, the shopkeepers could have faced rioters armed with assault weapons. Do we then need rocket-propelled grenades (RPG’s) to defend against assault rifles?
There are other times of extreme civil unrest where an assault rifle would come in handy. In the event of a major disaster people may need to seek survival shelters. Such a disaster could be anything from a nuclear blast to an asteroid impact.
Anyone with a survival shelter will need weapons to defend it from encroachment. Any survival shelter will have limited supplies of food, water, energy and other necessities. An influx of outsiders would metaphorically swamp the lifeboat. This again raises the threat of an arms race. If everyone owns assault rifles, then we could expect to see roving bands of heavily armed desperadoes who would stop at nothing to find shelter and supplies.
The second use of assault weapons would seem to be the ability to wage war on the government. Scratch a gun extremist and you are likely to find an anarchist under the skin. Much of the rhetoric of the extremist gun crowd seems to be about why we need guns to keep the government at bay.
These folks would like to return to the days of the old west, where disputes were settled by six shooters. If someone wrongs you; do not take him to court; just shoot him. And, if the sheriff shows up just shoot him too.
When you listen to the rhetoric of the extremists among the gun advocates, it is clear that they want their weapons in part to prevent any tyranny by the government. So, if the government passes any law, regulation or tax that these extremists do not support, they feel that they have the right to oppose the government by means of deadly force if necessary.
While American history is full of anarchical sentiments, the Second Amendment had a much different purpose.
A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
During the Revolutionary War, General Washington did not have a standing army to command, but only a collection of local militias. It was the legal obligation of every able-bodied man to own a rifle, and to use it in the defense of the nation. The country did not want to have a standing army due to the potential for tyranny that such a standing army could represent. Militias in the Eighteenth Century were the only way to provide for the common defense of the nation.
Thus, the purpose of the Second Amendment was not to arm civilians against the government, but rather, to arm citizens for the defense of the nation.
If we believe that citizens have the right to wage war against the government then we would have no government at all. We would become a failed state such as Somalia or Columbia wherein unelected warlords usurp the functions of government and enslave and tyranize the citizenry.