Friday, December 06, 2019
Is This an 'Assault Rifle'?
Depicted above is the venerable 'saddle gun' the Winchester 1873. I'm a fan of lever-action carbines. They're handy in the field. A reasonable hunting rifle but even better if you're walking through bear or cougar or wolf country.
They don't come with 30-round mags. Some, like the Winchester, have a tube magazine under the barrel that, depending on the calibre and configuration, can carry five to eight rounds. My Browning manages one in the chamber and four rounds in the magazine.
Is it an assault rifle? It's not semi-automatic. It's more like a cross between a bolt-action rifle and a semi-automatic. Especially with the Browning's short-throw lever and trigger mechanism, you can get rounds out pretty quick, a lot faster than the usual bolt action. It can make all the difference if a cougar decides you're on the menu for dinner tonight and you need that second or third round to change its mind before it closes the distance.
Today is a solemn day on which we commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Ecole Polytechnique massacre in Montreal. That murderous lunatic carried a Ruger Mini-14.
In this configuration, the Mini-14 is called a "ranch gun." Good for taking down varmints, wild hogs, that sort of thing. However, it has a Jekyll and Hyde cousin, what Ruger calls its "tactical model."
Suddenly the ranch gun looks a lot like your typical assault rifle, "black gun." It is sporting a nylon stock, pistol grip, high-capacity magazine, picatinny rail for mounting military-style optics, even a muzzle brake. Looks way more menacing than the ranch gun above it, doesn't it? Then again, all that add-on gear is intended to replicate this, the "budget friendly" Bushmaster, an AR-15 knock off.
I don't know where we should draw the line on these things. There's obviously no need for "black rifles" or what they connote. But you still have to find that line. Where, how?
Today, like every December 6th for the past three decades, is a day on which we tend to get emotional about the highly charged problems of gun control, man on woman violence. When emotions run high we tend to simplify issues, think in absolute terms, reject complexities and look for quick fixes. Therefore I invite you to read another perspective on assault weapons from SFU professor emeritus, Gary Mauser, a criminologist who has studied firearms legislation. He argues that assault weapons aren't the problem and that popular concerns are misplaced. Read it and then make up your own mind.