This is in response to the recent letter by Jeff Bishop. There are three points I want to make.
First, it is not the case that those who question the wisdom of allowing military style weapons to be largely available are confused by terminology. Few people think of the AR-15 as an assault rifle just because of the letters AR. This is irrelevant. Whether it is an AR or an AK, the point is the same.
Bishop goes on to assert that the only difference between the AR and other weapons is looks. Not true, and I’m sure he knows it. A bolt action rifle that holds three rounds cannot take out fifty people in a matter of seconds. But an AR or AK or similar weapon with a thirty round detachable magazine that can quickly be changed is capable of doing just that. This is an important distinction
Guns were invented to kill people or animals. Automobiles , etc. were not invented or intended for the express purpose of killing.
Bishop says that many people use ARs for varmint hunting. So what? What is that compared to the lives of children? Is his desire to shoot rats or prairie dogs for pleasure more important than the lives of kids in school?
And I wonder – if Bishop has kids or grand kids in school, would he rather have an attacker show up with a blunt object or an AR?
As for the second amendment, Bishop exhibits a complete lack of understanding. The second amendment was about national security. The founders were worried that a professional standing army would be a threat to liberty. Thus, “a well-regulated militia” was seen as “necessary to the security of a free people.” The British were still a threat, as were other potential adversaries. Further, Shay’s Rebellion was fresh in mind, and a militia was needed to put down possible future insurrections, including possible slave revolts. The second amendment was never about citizens fighting against the government. That is a myth.
Also, the Supreme Court never recognized an individual right to own firearms until the 2006 D.C. v. Heller decision. But even in the majority opinion, Justice Scalia, hardly an opponent of gun ownership, stated that certain regulations on firearms were legitimate.
Lastly, Bishop asserts that if assault weapons are banned, it is just an incremental move toward banning all guns. This has no basis in fact. We had an assault weapon ban for 10 years, after all. And there is no political will in either major political party to do anything remotely close to banning all guns.