The New York Times and Our "Weapons of War"

We’re all aware of the New York Times‘ recent op-ed asserting private ownership of AR-15s is an “outrage and a national disgrace” (pardon us if we don’t directly link to this tripe). It turns out Mad Duo Chris wrote an essay specifically refuting that stupid assertion years ago. Chris’s essay has since been published elsewhere but we thought you might like to check it out. Mad Duo

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The New York Times and Our “Weapons of War”

Mad Duo Chris

I have a message for my pro-2nd Amendment friends: guys, we don’t have to pretend our ARs aren’t military weapons.

One topic central to the gun control debate is whether or not AR-type rifles are “weapons of war” with no purpose in civilian hands. The anti-gun side points out the obvious similarities between an AR-15 and an M-16, and insists citizens have no right or reason to own either one. Gun rights advocates stress an AR’s inability to fire on full automatic and insist that makes them wholly unsuitable for military service.

In my experience, the anti-gun side typically engages in more snarky, insulting rhetoric than the pro-gun side. Gun control advocates call gun owners stupid, say we’re all paranoid, and accuse us of being violent hicks (or even worse, say we own guns to compensate for our [gasp!] small penises). But that reverses when the question of whether or not “assault rifles” are military weapons arises. Then we gun owners become the snarky, insulting ones.

Last week I watched an interview with a gun rights advocate on Fox News. He insisted that an AR has almost nothing in common with a military rifle because it’s not fully automatic. He laughed at Megyn Kelly’s suggestion that they were almost the same, and claimed nobody he knew in the military would ever carry an AR in combat.

I call BS on that one. I carried a semiauto-only M14 in Afghanistan as my primary weapon. I’ve fired my personal AR in a military marksmanship and close quarters combat competition, against other shooters armed with issued M4 carbines. I’ve trained with my personal AR at close and medium range targets, against moving targets, and against multiple targets. The entire reason I bought an AR was because it’s a military weapon. I wanted to train with almost the same weapon I might carry in combat. If I was downrange and armed with my personal AR instead of an issued weapon, I wouldn’t feel the least bit uncomfortable with it.

When someone says, “But the AR isn’t fully automatic,” I respond, “So what?” In a rifle, full auto fire has limited tactical worth. It’s not often that we fire our weapons on burst (currently issued M16s and M4s fire 3-round burst, not full auto) because it’s inaccurate and burns a lot of ammo. We emphasize carefully aimed fire, not “spray and pray” like the Taliban. We often make fun of our enemies, and sometimes our allies, for their tendency to dump rounds on full auto every time they pull a trigger. A fully automatic rifle certainly can be a useful tool, but isn’t a drop-dead necessity in combat. And among poorly supplied fighters, it quickly depletes meager stocks of ammo.

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As far as I’m concerned, ARs are for all practical purposes military weapons. But before any of my gun-rights brothers accuse me of betraying the cause, let me follow up with this statement: there’s nothing wrong with the fact that they’re military weapons. It’s a good thing.

Despite what the Huffington Post or Mother Jones publishes, the 2nd Amendment isn’t about hunting or sport shooting. It’s about the citizens’ right to resist tyranny. About 5 seconds of Googling turns up this quote, among many others, on Wikipedia:

“Before a standing army can rule, the people must be disarmed; as they are in almost every kingdom of Europe. The supreme power in America cannot enforce unjust laws by the sword; because the whole body of the people are armed, and constitute a force superior to any bands of regular troops that can be, on any pretense, raised in the United States.” – Noah Webster (writing under the nom de plume of “A Citizen of America”), An Examination Into the Leading Principles of the Constitution (October 17, 1787)

Noah Webster and his fellow founding fathers wanted us to be armed in order to resist government tyranny should the need arise. Therefore, it follows that we have the right to possess weapons capable of resisting tyrannical government forces. An AR gives the citizen that capability.

Anti-gun people typically say at this point, “You think you can fight the government? Well then you’d have to own tanks, airplanes, machine guns and nuclear bombs. If you just had rifles, you wouldn’t have a chance.”

No we don’t need to own tanks, fighter planes and nuclear weapons, and yes we would have a chance. Insurgents who are often armed only with AKs have been giving us a pretty good fight for more than ten years. Even with our overwhelming air and indirect fire assets, we haven’t rolled over the Taliban. They operate among the population, travel light, strike quickly and melt away, just like rebels in America would. Air strikes and artillery don’t do much good if you can’t figure out where to put them.

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We should also consider the lengths our military goes to in order to avoid civilian casualties. Whenever someone in the anti-gun camp insists our military would respond to a single rifle shot with a brutal onslaught of weaponry, I remind them we don’t even do that overseas. I’ve been in a couple of firefights where the Taliban were shooting from houses, and we couldn’t use supporting arms to hit those houses. In Afghanistan, and here, killing civilians only strengthens resistance against us. We tried to avoid killing civilians from another culture in another country, so why does anyone think our military wouldn’t care about civilian casualties in America?

Besides that, rebels or insurgents in any conflict don’t always have to win. Sometimes they just have to delay or inhibit government forces. Sometimes they only have to make a point.

I’ve read a lot of comments and articles from the anti-gun side, and I’m fairly certain the next comment coming from many of their mouths is, “This guy is a paranoid psycho who thinks the government is coming for his guns.” No, I’m not. As a cop, I know better than most how impossible that would be. I don’t accuse the current administration of tyranny and have never referred to our President as a tyrant. A review of my blog posts will prove that. I think many on the pro-gun side are too quick to throw out words like “dictatorship”. Our government is far from becoming a dictatorship.

An unknown, very intelligent man said we can resist tyranny with the soap box, ballot box and ammo box. We’re nowhere near the ammo box, and I can’t see us reaching for it for in my lifetime. But I understand the Bill of Rights wasn’t written only for the 1700s, or only the 1800s, or 1900s, or 2013. It was written to address immutable human nature. Noah Webster and his friends knew that once humans have power, there is always a danger that they’ll abuse or illegally expand that power.

“Whereas civil rulers, not having their duty to the people duly before them, may attempt to tyrannize, and as military forces, which must be occasionally raised to defend our country, might pervert their power to the injury of their fellow citizens, the people are confirmed by the article in their right to keep and bear their private arms.” – Tench Coxe, Federal Gazette, June 18,1789, A friend of James Madison, writing in support of the Madison’s first draft of the Bill of Rights

We Americans have a right and duty to resist tyranny, should it arise. We keep military weapons in order prevent our government from becoming tyrannical, and to fight back if it does. Those who wish to remove military weapons from our hands, on the pretext that “you don’t need them for hunting or home defense”, are woefully ignorant of the basis for the 2nd Amendment. Or more likely, they think the 2nd Amendment is stupid and obsolete, and maybe even wish for total gun confiscations but know better than to admit it publicly. Either way, they’re no friend to our freedom.

If someone angrily tells one of my pro-2nd Amendment friends that an AR is a “weapon of war”, I’d ask them to proudly respond, “You’re damn right it is.” When law-abiding, sensible citizens buy and shoot ARs, they’re not presenting a threat to the public or the government. They’re exercising their rights exactly as Noah Webster and Tenche Cox hoped they would.

That’s not something we should be ashamed of.

-CH

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breachbangclear.com_site_images_Chris_Hernandez_Author_BreachBangClear4Chris Hernandez Mad Duo Chris (seen here on patrol in Afghanistan) may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LIGHT writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley and Proof of Our Resolve. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog. You can find his author page here on Tactical 16.

Chris Hernandez

Chris Hernandez may just be the crustiest member of the eeeee-LITE writin’ team here at Breach-Bang-Clear. He is a veteran of both the Marine Corps and the Army National Guard who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also a veteran police officer of two decades who spent a long (and eye-opening) deployment as part of a UN police mission in Kosovo. He is the author of White Flags & Dropped Rifles – the Real Truth About Working With the French Army and The Military Within the Military as well as the modern military fiction novels Line in the Valley, Proof of Our Resolve and Safe From the War. When he isn’t groaning about a change in the weather and snacking on Osteo Bi-Flex he writes on his own blog.


Chris Hernandez has 112 posts and counting. See all posts by Chris Hernandez

8 thoughts on “The New York Times and Our "Weapons of War"

  • December 15, 2015 at 4:28 am
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    If anyone would care to carefully read the SCOTUS decision in “Miller vs US”, they would find that the Court held (back in the FDR days)that the 2nd Amendment applied ONLY to weapons with a military application. Therefore, “weapon of war” = “covered by 2nd Amendment”

    Reply
  • December 14, 2015 at 9:34 pm
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    My thoughts on a Military vs Anti-Tyrant Rebellion; Not only would the military try to limit damage to non-combatants, I don’t see any or many major commands willing to take up arms against the American people.

    Us military types took an oath to the Constitution, NOT any administration or politician. Commanders would think about that, and understand that if the Tyrannical government would loose their actions defending tyranny would be under review.

    Would I see a military coup helping the overthrow of a tyrannical government? No, but I would expect most commanders to keep their units in the motorpool and sit it out.

    Reply
  • December 14, 2015 at 5:16 pm
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    Excellent article, straight to the jugular. that.

    I think there are a couple of issues here when it comes to the language. While I agree with defensor that getting bogged down in a discussion of what is and is not legal under the NFA is pointless, the language does matter.

    The simple fact is that the term “assault weapon” is designed to scare people, but like a roller coaster, overuse dulls the sensation of fear one feels. Hence the new buzzword (technically buzzwords) “weapons of war”.

    This manipulation of language, quite frankly, pisses me off to no end. On it’s face it is nothing more than an attempt to manufacture fear for political purposes. “Weapons of war” sounds a lot scarier than “Semi-auto sporting rifle” and that’s why they use that term.

    However, I think there’s a larger and more subtle reason behind the words anti-gun activists choose and it reminds me of a story my mother told me as a child.

    There are two brothers and they both play tennis. One brother is much better than the other when it comes to this particular sport. The brother who lacks skill simply goes out of his way to infuriate the better brother before and during tennis matches and as a result the less skillful brother actually wins most of the matches the two play against each other.

    Why do I bring that up? Well, I think that this is what some of the manipulation of language is designed to do, as is the “snarky” attitude these activists use. It’s all, IMHO, part of a plan to simultaneously distract the pro 2A side and get us into the aforementioned pointless technical discussion of NFA gear and at the same time raise the hackles of pro 2A people to the point that many of themget snarky in return and thereby discredit themselves in public.

    Nothing does more damage to our argument that someone like Alex Jones flying off the handle on Piers Morgan live on national TV. While he may have made some valid points they were lost in the screaming and wild-eyed tinfoil hattery. That gave Piers exactly what he wanted: someone he could point to and say “See, gun enthusiasts are all a bunch of frothing at the mouth lunatics! Do you really want someone as unstable as THIS GUY to own an ‘assault rifle’!?”

    Now, let’s be honest here for a moment. The article is correct; no one is coming for your guns and wide ranging gun control is a pipe dream of the Left because virtually no court in the land would allow it as long as the 2A remains in the Bill of Rights.

    A lot of this is political pot stirring. Certain people on the Democrat’s side of the aisle are starting to get rather nervous about the upcoming election next year, so they’re throwing red meat to their base.

    Reply
    • December 14, 2015 at 5:17 pm
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      Also, apologies for the length of the rant, and also that random “that.” hanging out at the end of the first sentence.

      Reply
  • December 14, 2015 at 1:00 pm
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    I’m guilty of more than my fair share of the snark you described. I can’t speak for all commentators, but I think the reason we tend to get bogged down in semantics is because the debate tends to be operating off of two different sets of facts. It’s true that select fire doesn’t really add or subtract from a war fighters ability to rumble. It’s also true that select fire is one of the legal requirements for an assault RIFLE. The problem is most of the anti AR rhetoric is against assault WEAPONS, a politically charged term for whatever happens to be scaring people that week. Since the terms tend to be used interchangeably, what might be a simple description of the statist war against cosmetic features can quickly become bogged down into an explanation of the NFA, something that the atf doesn’t even understand.

    Reply
  • December 14, 2015 at 12:27 pm
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    Here’s one who was brave enough to speak out on what more than a few (many of them in positions of power, no less) are thinking.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/10/5/1427845/-Effective-Gun-Control-A-National-Semi-Auto-Ban

    That saying, “when a man tells you that he’s going to kill you, take him seriously” keeps echoing through my head.

    The last thing I want to see is this country torn to shreds, but this guy and this line of thought (scratch that. This PROPOSED PLAN OF ACTION) will, much like you had written, not go unanswered. Nothing good can possibly come from any of it.

    Chris, I can appreciate your opinion that this is a distant threat (and pray for my children’s same that it is) but I’m far from convinced.

    In the meanwhile, aside from the keyboard-commando, meme-spewing crowd and the fat ass dipshits that make up much of the “militia movement”, the author to that article and his fellow travelers are taking all of the initiative.

    What’s a guy to do, aside from stock up, get fit, and train like his life, family, and future generations of Americans depend on it? No good answers that I can come up with. This is just a big ugly, across the board.

    End rant.

    Very respectfully,

    MM1

    Reply
    • December 14, 2015 at 12:51 pm
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      Oh, and before everyone starts with the “But, but, but… The majority of military and law enforcement personnel will NEVER go along with this plan!” I want you all to run through a little thought experiment: What would that look like? Would it turn into a mass conflag between the yes men and the hell no men? Do you really think that everyone has the exact same “line in the sand” and that somehow they are ALL going to (on a nationwide scale if we are only considering the ones INCONUS) SIMULTANEOUSLY commit a whole shit-ton of felony grade UCMJ violations? How about the guys with families, particularly with families living on base. Simultaneous is the key word. Back to that “same line in the sand” thing: Won’t pull security for cops? Won’t pull the trigger themselves? “Won’t have anything to do with it” sound like a hell of a thing to coordinate, on that wide scale, synchronized basis, no? I mean, in reality, this whole thing is very little different than the situation that civilians (former mil or not) would be faced with. My whole point is that this isn’t just as clear cut as some would write it off as. To me, they sound a lot like the people who answer every hard question with “This is Merica! That could never happen here!”

      End rant, again, and for real this time.

      Very respectfully,

      MM1

      Reply

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