Thursday, January 31, 2013

Gun terminology and why it matters...

I have been following the great debate in the US regarding ‘gun control’. In my mind, gun control means hitting your target. What is lacking in the US is not so much ‘gun control’, but ‘people control’. There are already plenty of gun laws currently on the books in the US, to be able to keep Americans safe.

To quote an old truth: “If you outlaw all guns, then only outlaws will have guns”. I can fully understand the stance of the NRA, mind you. They actually get and understand the meaning and intent of the Second Amendment, as written into the American Constitution. Hell, I’m a Canadian and I can understand what the American founding fathers had in mind when they drafted that. It had absolutely nothing to do with hunting or target practice. It has everything to do with the American people themselves having a way of defending their country, their homes, their ideals, their liberty… from governments and enemies both foreign AND domestic. And that is up to and including their OWN government. Remember where the first Americans hailed from. They were all too familiar with livng under oppressive governments, which is why they fled to the Americas. So resolute were they that they would never again bear the weight and injustice of such an oppression, that they drafted the Second Amendment into the Constitution.

Yes, I know… many folks will say: “Come on… That was way back then. We're not back in the days of the Wild West. This is now!!” The ‘logic’ behind such a statement truly baffles me. In truth, there was actually 'law and order' in the Old West and the will to enforce such laws.

Have you taken a look around at the World such as it is recently? Read the news from any outlet in the world and you will soon realize that we live in times far more perilous than any that our long-lost ancestors experienced. There are dictatorships and autocratic (to say nothing of theocratic) regimes in many parts of the world. For as much as we might like to believe that democracy is spreading and we are stemming the tide of barbarism, nothing could be further from the truth. Indeed, many of the people who share these same anti-democratic, anti-freedom belief systems, are now housed in our very own North-American countries. Yes, we used to be able to say: “That’s okay… it’s only happening over in that country. Let them kill themselves, so long as it doesn’t affect us here at home”. A somewhat cold viewpoint perhaps, but a practical one. Gone however are those days. They are now here amongst us in their tens of thousands, if not millions. Western civilization is under attack along a broad front and our enemies do not wear uniforms to distinguish them from those who actually wish to adopt our more tranquil mode of life. This is what brought us to racial profiling. Some call it prejudice, but no. It is simply factual and practical.

In the wake of several high-profile mass shootings in the States, it is only right that Americans pause and ask themselves critical and well-informed questions as to the ‘why’ of all this. It is only right, but it is also not happening. Americans have fixated on the ‘how’ of all this instead. Rather than blame it on a social condition (which it is), they try to blame the implements used by the perpetrators. A favorite word bandied around of late has been the generic term “assault weapon”. In most instances, it has been applied to a wide range of weapons which are NOT in fact an assault weapon. This is a sticking point with the NRA and should be with any gun owner in any country. So what actually IS an assault weapon?

By definition, an assault weapon is a compact, select-fire military weapon (single fire, semi-automatic AND full auto), with a shortened barrel, of medium caliber, with a collapsible stock and with a large magazine capacity. If a weapon fulfills all these criteria, it can be considered to be a bona fide assault weapon.

It has nothing to do with pistol grips, threaded barrels or even barrel shrouds. ‘Look-alike’ weapons are NOT “military-grade weapons in the hands of civilians”. They are simply semi-automatic weapons. Semi-automatic weapons are NOT fucking assault weapons. Clear…??? To follow the misguided description offered by the non-informed, a Beretta 92 would qualify as an ‘assault weapon’, when in fact it is simply a semi-automatic pistol.

Now with that set aside, I can of course understand the angst, the hysteria and the national breast-beating which occurs when such a dreadful, senseless act takes place. It is after all, only a natural human response. Yet as in many situations where we attempt to close the barn door after the horses get loose, the solution is not building a better barn door, or getting rid of the barn. It is singling out and holding responsible the farm hand that neglected to lock the barn door in the first place. For anyone out there who might think I am referring to the gun manufacturers, shake your head. They have absolutely no part in any of this. Just as tobacco companies have nothing to do with a person’s choice to smoke or the ensuing health risks. Or a bar owner is not responsible for one of his patrons getting drunk and then killing someone with his car on the way home.

Many people have commented that Canada’s gun control laws seem to work for us. You are missing the point completely. There are a great many gun owners here in Canada. One reason why our great National Firearms Registry idea simply imploded. So why does Canada have so little gun crime in comparison? Canada’s population is about 34,482,779. The USA has 313,914,040 residents. And no, I don’t think this includes all the undocumented illegal residents. So right off the mark, Canada has one tenth the population of the United States. That’s in itself is going to guarantee a much lower incidence. Yet even on a per capita basis, Canada’s gun crime stats are far removed from our Southern neighbors. Again, why is that???

Some firearm related statistics:

In the USA in 2010, there were 30,470 deaths caused by firearms.Of these, 19,392 (63.6%) were suicides. 11,078 (36.4%) were homicides. Of these homicides, 358 involved rifles, 6,009 involved pistols and 1,939 cases of homicide did not have the type of weapon reported. No mention by the way, of assault rifles... And as we should all know by now, pistols are not assault weapons, right?

In the same year in Canada, there were a staggering 554 homicides. Of these, 170 involved the use of a firearm. I'm not even going to get into the break down of these stats, as you can plainly see that they are absolutely inconsequential in comparison. Gun violence in Canada had at that point been in decline for the last 44 years. When queried why this might be, it was stated that in modern Western societies, people had found a preference for settling differences in a civilized manner. Well clearly some of us have...

In that same year (2010), the US experienced 5,419,000 motor vehicle collisions (a record low at that time, mind you), which resulted in 32,885 deaths and 2,239,000 injuries.

If the US really wanted to protect their citizens, perhaps they might also consider banning automobiles from their roadways. It would make as much sense in the long run and definitely save more lives. Although by their own estimates, Americans figure their gun deaths will manage to surpass their automobile death figures by 2015. At present, the US averages around 87 gun deaths per day.

It has often been said by the jaded and the uneducated, that Canada has no culture. I beg to differ. Even in this one very basic social comparison, the chasm which exists between our cultures is all too evident. For another, we don’t seem to be quite as besotted as our American counterparts when it comes to fame and celebrities. It has also been said, rather snidely if truth were known, that Canada has no real celebrities. Again, this is pure unadulterated horseshit, as the list of Canadian celebrities is a long and illustrious one. This line of thought by the way, also comes from the very same group of jaded and uneducated individuals. The difference is that we do not fawn all over them. We do not live to compare our lives with them or aspire to be like them. We have not embraced the idea of worshipping our celebrities or indeed of chasing after fame. We are by and large a fairly happy lot. We are generally well pleased about who we are as individuals. The thought of writing off our life (to say nothing of the lives of others) for a few mere seconds or days of fame and notoriety on the FOX Network or CNN, is fortunately not a sickness which has taken hold here. Yes, some Canadians may follow the social train wrecks of many American celebrities, out of some sense of morbid curiosity. But it is done from afar. We do not hang on their every word and action. It is generally done while feeling embarassed for those involved.

I will also state that there is not a prevalence for feeding young people a steady diet of 'thug' and 'street nigga' music, where the 'downtrodden and uneducated social misfits' can latch onto this ridiculous notion that by wrapping a do-rag around your head of a certain colour, you are entitled to claim ownership of a particular neighborhood or city. No, that shit is all yours. Yes, we do have some misguided, wannabes up here and they are at the root of most gun violence. Them and actual organized crime outfits. Not lonely, self-absorbed losers who decide one day that they are going to finally get their 15 minutes of fame by killing any number of innocent children.

The problem in the United States stems not from the guns themselves. It stems from the mindset of those who get their hands on them or more to the point, why they want to. There seems to be this cultural entitlement to kill others who disagree with you, who you feel threatened by, who were not nice to you, who maybe bullied you at some point in your life. The media glorifies their deeds by the constant exposure they provide and enshrines them in that great media church of the notorious and the nefarious. Here in Canada, there are stringent laws which govern how weapons must be stored when in a person’s home. Should that not be so in the US as well...??? It's called personal responsibility, people. You should read up on it. If nobody is acting like a semi-responsible adult down there, how the fuck do you have the audacity to stand back and ask: "Why...???" when this type of shit comes down the pike???

Gun owners here tend to be a fairly responsible lot, whether their guns are registered or not. Everyone requires a license and a training course before you can think of buying one. In the case of the Sandy Hook shooter, the weapons were not even his. They were purportedly registered to his mother, who by all accounts left them lying about unattended. And you’re going to blame who here? The vast majotiry of any gun crimes here in Canada are perpetrated not by the weapon’s legal owner, nor are they committed with weapons that were legally obtained. It is like Wayne LaPierre stated: Criminals don’t care about gun laws. They don’t care about background checks, or waiting periods, or licenses. They don’t care because none of this applies to them. They DO NOT ABIDE BY THESE LAWS.

The only people impacted by gun laws, are law abiding citizens. Not those who you have every reason to fear. Do I believe in background checks? Yes. For the prospective gun owner AND for those sharing that residence. Do I believe in a mandatory ‘cooling off period’? Again, yes. Do I believe in keeping actual assault weapons from the hands of civilians with no prior military training? Hell, yes. Do I believe in actively enforcing the laws which are already on the books? Hell yes.

Do I believe in disarming the free citizens of a country which has had the foresight of equipping these same citizens with the rights and the wherewithall to defend themselves and their liberty? Absolutely not. And certainly not in these times, where the threats to their very existence have never been more real.

Once more in closing, it's not the guns that you need to fear. It is yourselves. It is not a magazine's capacity that is killing you, it your lack of capacity to treat one another as fellow human beings.

But then again this is, as usual, only one man's opinion.


* As a footnote, I don't see what all the rage is about the AR-15 variant models. This is probably similar to those folks who believe that a Harley-Davidson is the ONLY type of motorcycle to own, if you want to be seen as a 'biker'.

The AK-103 is a far superior weapon in just about every aspect and it fires a 'real round' of 7.62x39mm / .308", whereas the AR-15 and all other variants such as the M-16A1 and M4A2 fire a simpering 5.56x45mm / .223" one.

An standard M43 AK-47/103 round is basically a .308, 123 grain boat-tail bullet. It will stop not only a human target, but it will also stop a car. Typical muzzle velocity for this round is around 2,396 fps.

A standard AR, M16 or M4 round (depending on the type of load-out, either M193 or M855), will vary from 55 grains to 64 grains. Muzzle velocity may vary anywhere from 2,500 - 3,100 fps. The terminal velocity of this round however, is dictated by the length of the weapon's barrel. Shorter barrels allow for a less complete burn of the charge and therefore considerably lower muzzle velocities. For a round that depends almost entirely on the muzzle velocity for inflicting maximum damage on a target, this is not particularly desirable.

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