A very divisive and little understood question for our day. The simple answer, of course, is yes. That answer was provided by Stephen Willeford who confronted shooter Devin Kelley in the Sutherland Springs church shooting. He stated that if he had not been armed with his AR-15 pattern semi-automatic rifle, the outcome of confronting the similarly armed and armored Devin might have had a different outcome. Stephen Willeford, to save lives, had need of his so called “assault rifle.”
But in all honesty, the question isn’t that simple. A more complex answer however, will require some clarification. The term “assault rifle” is a fabricated category created by those who oppose the Second Amendment. There is no such legitimate category to which we can point and say there; those are the guns we are asking about. In fact, raising the issue of “assault rifles” only goes to show one’s ignorance of the subject at hand. If you are talking about weapons currently used by our armed forces in assaults well, those weapons are already illegal for you and me to purchase. If you are talking about all semi-automatic weapons, that includes millions of .22 caliber rifles given to most of the young boys of my youth around the age of twelve. They have never been and were never meant to be used in an assault. Mostly they are used for plinking at tin cans and ridding the barn yard of unwanted varmints and vermin. A semi-automatic ban would also include the preponderance of pistols carried today for self defense or by security personnel and the police. The answer here is yes, both .22s and semi-automatic pistols are used and needed by many.
What those who ask this question are really talking about, even though I have found none that can articulate it, is a rifle which is semi-automatic, uses center fire ammunition, has a relatively short barrel for a rifle, and uses a detachable magazine capable of holding 30 or more rounds of ammunition. Most of them (not all) look scary. These rifles do not have the same capability of those used by the military and are not used in military assaults. However, I think most people would conceded this to be a somewhat accurate description of what is meant by those asking the question, of a need for “assault weapons.”
Are these weapons, so defined, needed by anyone? Here then is a more complex answer to the question. Basically, these types of weapons are being used in five legal pursuits; law enforcement, recreation, home defense, hunting, and securing freedom. Let’s answer each one.
– Law enforcement. The answer is a definite yes as illustrated by the highly studied and reviewed 1986 Miami-Dade shootout between FBI agents and the two bank robbers Matix and Platt. Platt, wielding a 30 cliber carbine that would fit our definition, out gunned seven FBI agents who were primarily using revolvers (pistols with limited capacities.) There is a story of a Sherriff who was invited to a party. He showed up with his pistol on his side. The hostess was rather surprised and asked, “sheriff, are you expecting trouble?” The Sheriff answered, “No mam, if I was expecting trouble, I would have brought a rifle. Yes, assault weapons are needed by people engaged in law enforcement.
– Recreation. These weapons are a lot of fun to shoot but, are they needed? They would only be needed for recreation are as it would provide practice for other reasons. The answer is no.
– Home Defense. Ben, the best marksman/shooter that I know, swears by them. Ben is currently the State Long Distance Accuracy and Regional NRA Champion. He is also a successful three-gun competitor. As such he has garnered copious amounts of experience with rifles, shotguns, pistols and combat oriented rifles. As a home defense weapon, he says there is nothing better. Some other so-called experts disagree but if the bad guy comes in armed multiples or if he is coming in your door with one of these capable weapons, you are at a distinct disadvantage using anything less. Yes, there is a case to be made for needing an “assault weapon” for home defense.
– Hunting. Here they are not really needed. There are other rifles that are better suited to most types of hunting. Most “assault weapons” are under powered for large game such as deer. One exception would be wolves where they travel in packs. Unless you have a large capacity magazine and semi-automatic fire, some of them might get away. (That is a bad joke, sort of.) So, are they needed for hunting? No.
– Securing our freedom (the second amendment.) This is the most complex issue requiring a complex answer. Bear with me while I weave an imaginary scenario. Imagine a President of the United States, you can use Regan if you like, who gains a cult following among his party’s base. The press becomes enamored of him and supports his policies. He trades generals around until he is successful in finding those that personally back him and his agenda. With congressional support, he appoints political leadership in the Department of Justice and the FBI that will finally address some of the real problems in our country. Having a number of vacancies, he is also able to staff the courts with progressive judges who ascribe to the constitution as a living document. This enables them to better deal with current problems. With this legacy behind him, he comes to the end of his two terms in office having accomplished only a few of the things on his agenda. His desire is to continue building on his successes to bring real change and progress to our nation. It would be a real shame for him to step aside and end the progress he has made, wouldn’t it?
So, for the good of our nation, he plans and puts into operation a future possibility. Using a popular social issue, he creates unrest leading to rioting and mob violence etc. After all, the ends justify the means. Martial law is declared to make the citizens of our nation safe again. Since it is not good to be without seasoned leadership at a time like this, he suspends the date of the next election until the crisis is over. When an election is finally held, he wins a third term in office, regardless of the votes cast. Able to more fully consolidate his power base, he then gains a fourth term, etc. Sure, there would a some point be opposition, but hey, with the continuing crisis and martial law still imposed, the military has things under control. In the end, just like so many other nations, we lose the Republic that we fought so hard to obtain.
Guffaw all you like. Do you really think such a thing can’t happen in our nation? The hypothetical President that I just described, in detail, is President Barack Obama. The social issues he was using were the “one percent” and racism. Black Lives Matter was the catalyst. Folks, he even spoke about not being able to run for a third term on three separate occasions. You know, just like the way he talked about it being unconstitutional to take immigration action with executive orders. Then, he did it anyway. Remember?
Some say, and I seriously wonder if they aren’t correct, that the only reason President Obama did step down is because of guns, including “assault weapons” in the hands of the citizens. With a properly armed citizenry, the abuse of Martial Law would not be effective. It would plunge this nation into another civil war. So instead, he had the media help to get President Trump setup as the opposition because surely Hillary could beat him! Then the legacy would continue. Except…
No wonder they are so mad. With the current revelations concerning the deep state, the reality of this scenario is becoming more, and more, likely. Truth or fantasy? You can decide for yourself. The scenario however, is very plausible. If not now, it could happen at some possible future date. With a little thought you can see how susceptible many in our nation have become to such manipulation.
It is in anticipation of this exact scenario that our prescient founding fathers enacted the Second Amendment. Does anyone really need an “assault rifle?” YES, all Americans who value their freedom and wish to keep it do.