Gaarder: Where do we end with an assault rifle ban?


​From the many letters to the editor about the subject of assault rifles and AR-15s, I understand that gun control is an emotional subject, especially after the Florida shooting. However, I would ask everyone to step back and see if we can look at some facts and ask a few questions.

Here are a few things to consider:

• An AR-15 (AR = Armalite, not automatic rifle) or AK-47-style rifle is a semi-automatic firearm. The bump stocks used in Las Vegas can make one almost fully automatic, similar to a machine gun, and should be illegal or be placed on​to​ the list of items that must be registered​ and can only be purchased by those who possess a Class 3 Federal Firearms License​. Many people will likely be shocked to learn that any U.S. citizen who can meet the requirements for and pass the background checks involved can obtain this license, which permits them to legally own fully automatic weapons including machine guns and even cannon/artillery pieces. Semi-automatic means the gun fires once for each time you squeeze the trigger. Automatic means it fires as fast as its mechanics allow until you release the trigger or it runs out of ammunition. ​

• A 12-gauge shotgun fires a shell of 00 buckshot. That is about 9 pellets, each 33 caliber. That may not mean anything to the average person, so I will tell you that the M1 Garand of World War II and Korean War fame was 30 caliber, so these are 10 percent bigger. A pump or semi-auto shotgun has the advantage that you can insert fresh shells at any time, there is no magazine to eject like the above mentioned rifles.

• Say you do get rid of all assault-style rifles. What about the semi-automatic rifles owned by individuals? Or the surplus M1s and others which are certainly not assault-style rifles? What about my 22 semi-automatic that I have had since high school with a capacity of 15 rounds before reloading?

• Say that someone proposed to ban all rifles except for bolt-action an lever-action rifles. Are we safe then? Go back to WWI through WWII, the British army's primary rifle was the Lee-Enfield bolt action. But the British troops ​even in WWI ​could obtain and maintain such a high rate of fire that the German army felt they had badly underestimated the ratio of machine guns per unit. They were able to fire up to 18 rounds per minute. Also, this rifle is accurate out to beyond 800 meters whereas the AK & AR are 500 or less. Lever-actions? The Winchester was the gun that won the west.

So, is banning the AR-15 a solution or not? If it is, what about the other questions I have raised?

Would such a law work? Chicago has some of the strictest gun control laws in the U.S. Look at their murder rate. You and I would obey such a law, but would a criminal?

Gaarder is a member of The Forum’s Readers Board.