By Ginger Costen
In case you hadn’t noticed over the years that when writing a column, I try to put everything there is to say into that one editorial. This certainly was the case last week when I wrote my piece on gun control. However, having received comments – both pro and con – in person, on the phone and via email, I feel the need to follow up with a response or two.
First, let’s define the word “assault.” According to Wikipedia (my go-to Internet source for those of us who are often confused by having way too many words with the same meaning) the specific meaning of assault varies between countries, but can refer to an act that causes another to apprehend immediate and personal violence or in the more limited sense, a threat of violence caused by an immediate show of force.
Next, let’s see what they say about the meaning of “rifle.”As a noun the word rifle is describing a gun, especially one fired from shoulder level, having a long spirally grooved barrel intended to make a bullet spin and thereby have greater accuracy over a long distance.
Now let’s put the two words together. An assault rifle is a military rifle with a detachable magazine that utilizes anintermediate-power cartridge, and that generally is capable offull-automatic fire, where multiple rounds are fired continuously when the trigger is pulled one time (such as a machine gun)or burst capable, where a burst of several rounds is fired when the trigger is pulled one time.
When did we first start using the assault rifle?
Again, according to Wikipedia, the assault rifle became the standard military rifle in the post-World War II era. The Soviet Union was the first nation in the post-war era to adopt an assault rifle, the AK-47, and other nations followed later.
Experience during the World Wars had shown that most infantry combat took place at a distance of 220–330 feet and that the winner of any given conflict would most likely be the one with the highest rate of fire. Assault rifles are the standard service rifles in most modern armies and should be distinguished from the United States legal term “assault weapons.”
Hmmm, I thought they were one and the same.
In more casual usage, the term "assault weapon" is sometimesconfused with the term "assault rifle." The use of the term "assault weapon" is highly controversial, as critics assert that the term is a media inventionor a term that is intended to cause confusion among the public by intentionally misleading the public to believe that assault weapons (as defined in legislation) are fully-automatic firearms when they are not.
So how does this fit into the concept that the American people have an individual right to own and carry weapons? Well, I’m glad you asked. Please, Wikipedia give us the information.
In the United States of America the term “right to own and carry weapons” refers to the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution contained in the Bill of Rights which protects the right of the people to keep and bear arms. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, along with the rest of the Bill of Rights.
Furthermore, in 2008 the Supreme Court of the United States first ruled that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess and carry firearms unconnected to service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense within the home.
Okay, let’s review. An “assault weapon and/or rifle is a military weapon that can be continuously fired and is meant to cause immediate and personal violence. Furthermore, anyone can have an assault rifle/weapon because in 1791 our founding fathers said that we could.
In 1791 we had just spent the previous 100 plus years fighting with the Spanish, French and English to hold onto the land which we’d taken away from the Native American Indians. We needed weapons to protect ourselves from just about everyone and anything
But it’s now 2013 and the “Wild West” has been settled along with the rest of the country. We no longer “need” guns to put food on the table. Need proof? How about Price Chopper, Shaw’s. Market Basket, or Park “n Shop? We can literally jump in the car and go buy a roast, chicken, lobster or whatever our heart’s desire and be home cooking it before the Pilgrims had plucked all the tail feathers off old Tom turkey. Still in a hurry and don’t have time to fix the food, there are great restaurants like Talk of the Town, Golden Greek, Titi’s or Michaels (to name a few).
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, of the 30,470 firearm-related deaths in the United States in 2010, 19,392 (63.6%) were suicide deaths, and 11,078 (36.4%) homicide deaths.
Hand guns figured in the Virginia Tech shootings, the Binghamton massacre, the Fort Hood massacre, the Oikos University shooting, and the 2011 Tucson shooting. Assailants with multiple weapons (including assault) were used in committing the Aurora Theater shooting, and both the Columbine High School and Sandy Hook Elementary massacres.
Policies at the federal, state, and local levels have attempted to address gun violence through a variety of methods, including restricting firearms purchases by youths and other "at-risk" populations, setting waiting periods for firearm purchases, establishing gun "buy-back" programs, law enforcement and policing strategies, stiff sentencing of gun law violators, education programs for parents and children, and community-outreach programs.
The Congressional Research Service in 2009 estimated there were 310 million firearms in the United States, not including weapons owned by the military. 114 million of these were handguns, 110 million were rifles, and 86 million were shotguns. In that same year, the Census bureau stated the population of people in America at 305,529,237.
As a final note, the verb form of the word “rifle” means to search through something in a hurried way in order to find or steal something. We “need” to rifle through a serious and productive form of gun control before we find that all of our youth and innocent people have had their lives stolen.
The next time you walk into a movie theater or mall ask yourself if the founding fathers meant for everyone to own an assault weapon. The next time you take your child or grandchildren to school ask yourself if our country needs a stronger policy on gun control? And if you still can’t see why we do… close your eyes and remember the faces from Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Only our military and law enforcement personnel need assault rifles and/or weapons.