Back in 2016 the Massachusetts Attorney General, Maura Healey, issued an order which effectively made the Bay State assault-rifle rein. Not only did her ukase extend the state’s continued adherence to the extension of the Clinton assault-rifle ban, but it expressly prohibited the sale of assault-style guns which were jimmied around one way or another to circumvent the Clinton ban.
The problem with the Clinton approach (which was actually copied from an earlier assault-rifle ban enacted in California) was that the definition of an ‘assault rifle’ was based largely on whether the gun had certain design features (folding stock, flash-hider, hand grip, etc.) which made it look like a military gun, but didn’t really make the gun any more lethal than many other semi-automatic guns. Which made it both easy and plausible foe Gun-nut Nation to attack the ban since, according to those savants, law-abiding gun owners would be deprived of owning what was just another ‘sporting’ gun.
I happen to own a bunch of assault rifles, an AR, an AK and a couple of Mini-14s, and they are all fun to shoot. Set up some tin cans (or better yet some pumpkins) at the range, go prancing around blasting away a la Colion Noir and have a good time. But whenever I refer to these guns as ‘adult toys,’ which is what they are, I get all kinds of angry responses from my gun-nut friends who tell me in no uncertain terms that I’ve become a Judas Goat because I don’t understand that Americans need these guns to guarantee their sacred right to self-defense.
Last week I received my annual dues notice from the local gun group which asked me to make an additional donation so that they can petition the Supreme Court to “take up our challenge of AG Maura Healey’s 2016 gun ban.” And why do they want to challenge the ban? Because according to them, “self-defense is a human right.” By the way, Maura’s ban was upheld by the First Circuit and I can’t imagine that in the current climate the SCOTUS would even consider hearing the case.
The problem for Gun-nut Nation in fighting against an assault-weapon ban is that they are trying to have it both ways. On the one hand, they argue that since the AR is a semi-auto gun it is no different from any other semi-auto ‘sporting’ gun, which would make a ban on such a product clearly a violation of 2nd-Amendment ‘rights.’ On the other hand, they have also been promoting these guns as necessary for self-defense, and like the gun-nut brigade in Massachusetts claims, self-defense is a human right.
Both arguments happen to be total and complete crap. The AR is designed to do one thing and one thing only, which is to deliver massive amounts of man-killing ordnance in a brief period of time. And even with my cold, not-yet-dead hands (to paraphrase Charlton Heston), I can get off 30 rounds with my AR is 15 seconds or less. As for self-defense, the idea that I need to protect myself with 30 rounds of military-grade ammo when that ‘street thug’ breaks down my back door is, if anything, an invitation to commit more harm than good. The round from an AR is lethal out to 500 yards or more; a shotgun blast travels 40 or 50 yards. Which gun would be safer to use if my house is located across the street from someone else?
I understand why my gun-nut friends view the attempt to ban assault rifles with a mixture of fear and alarm. I don’t disagree with the idea that once you ban this kind of gun, it’s easier to ban another type of gun next time around. But sooner or later we must confront the fact that some guns are simply too lethal to be in anyone’s hands, law-abiding hands or not. And anyone who thinks that an AR-15 is no different from the 22-caliber Sears Roebuck shooter that used to go under the Christmas tree, doesn’t know anything about guns.