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Why do you need assault rifles or high-capacity magazines?

By Rob Olive
Many of you who read this article will not agree with me. I hope those who dont will back up, take a deep breath, and consider my words carefullywhile trying to avoid the knee-jerk objections to them that you have heard in the media.

There are few certainties in life, but one of them is that in the debate about gun control, those of us who refuse to relinquish a hard-won right will be called uncaring (or worse). So, as a preemptive strike, I will say that a solution that amounts to a full frontal assault on the Second Amendment doesnt denote caring. Rather, it indicates a desire by some people to make themselves feel better for having done something.

As the father of three boys I cannot begin to imagine the grief and sense of loss that the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims must feel. May God comfort them in this incredibly difficult time. That the innocent victims smiles will never again be seen, their voices never again heard, is a tragedy beyond comprehension. But President Obamas twenty-three executive actions and the deluge of gun control legislation are focused on the way those innocent children and teachers died. The worst school massacre in U.S. history did not involve firearms. In 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan, Andrew Kehoe set off three separate explosions, killing a total of 44 people 38 of which were children. Evil is evil, and it must be guarded against and dealt with severely whenever it rears its ugly head. The question we must ask ourselves is this: In a free society, does the presence of evil justify the abrogation of individual liberty? Benjamin Franklin said it best: Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. I would argue that his words have never rung truer than they do now. For that is precisely what our government will demand of us in the near futurethat we give up an Essential Liberty guaranteed to us by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Why assault rifles?

Why do you need assault rifles or high-capacity magazines? With the abject horror of the Connecticut school shooting before us 24/7, weve all heard some version of this question asked ad nauseam. Because my novel Essential Liberty paints a picture of what firearm confiscation in the United States might actually look like, friends and even family have posed the question to me as well. And its a reasonable questionuntil examined closely. Websters defines assault rifle as a military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire. The fact that virtually none of the firearms used in any of the tragic shootings over the years were capable of fully automatic fire means that they were not, by definition, assault rifles. They were, by and large, semi-automatic firearms that may look different, but function identically to, other firearms that have been in existence for over a century. I use assault rifle in the title of this article only because that is the term used so often by the uninitiatedand by those with less than honest motives to create hysteria in order to accomplish their political goals. Similarly, high-capacity is often used incorrectly (and purposely, in many cases) to describe ammunition-feeding devices capable of containing more than ten rounds of ammunition. The fact is that twenty and thirty-round magazines are standard capacity for these firearms, and have been for fifty years. The correct terms are semi-automatic firearms and standard-capacity magazines.

The best place to start answering the question posed in my title is the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution: A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

The first part of this rather straightforward statement has generated much controversy over the years. Some argue that the term militia refers to a collective or states right, while others (myself included) believe that, just as with the rest of the Amendments

Why assault rifles?

3 within the Bill of Rights, it guarantees an individual right. That particular point of disagreement, however, is beyond the scope of this discussion.

The more important parts of the Amendment (whether one believes in the individual or collective interpretation) is the assertion that the right of the people to keep and bear Arms is necessary to the security of a free State. What were the Founders thinking when they drafted that Amendment? Even a cursory examination of history reveals that the mood among the majority of the fledgling countrys citizens was decidedly against a strong federal government. They feared and distrusted the very government they were creating, as a result of their experience with King Georges England. A government bent on imposing its will upon them was an important enough issue in the minds of the early Americans that the entire Bill of Rights was written to protect them against such a possibility. So important were these first ten Amendments that the Constitution would never have been ratified without them.

And the glue that held these protections together was and still is the Second Amendment. George Mason, one of the driving forces behind the concept of a Bill of Rights to append to the Constitution, warned us: To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them. His warning echoed the general sentiment that at all times American citizens must be prepared (and sufficiently armed) to hold their government at bay, if necessary. In other words, the security of a free State was to be guaranteed by the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. As radical as the idea may sound today, the Founders intended for the federal government to fear its citizens. With that being the case, one must ask what arms would cause the leviathan that is the United States government today to fear its citizensto hesitate before attempting to impose its will upon them. Here is where the biggest misunderstanding about the Second Amendment exists.

Despite what we are told by opportunistic politicians, our Right to Keep and Bear Arms has nothing to do with hunting or self-defense against burglars in our homes. It has every-

Why assault rifles?

4 thing to do with protecting ourselves from an overreaching federal government. Though such a possibility seems remote, consider that never in our history have so many of our citizens depended on our government for so many things (a reality that would have been anathema to our Founders). But a government large enough to do so much for its citizens is also capable of (and possibly inclined toward) doing virtually anything it wants to them. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were intended to protect us against What if? They were put in place as safeguards against the unthinkable, even though many of those safeguards may seem unnecessary today. More than two centuries separate us from the drafting and ratification of these documents, and the passage of so much time has understandably instilled a sense of complacency in the American people. But we must overcome that complacency and realize that our government must be held in check, by one means or another.

Therein lies the only real answer to the question posed at the beginning of this treatise: Why do you need assault rifles or high-capacity magazines? The nutshell answer is to instill enough fear in those bent on imposing their will upon us to stop them from doing so. We require a sufficient deterrent for that possibility to be realistic. Small arms of the nature described abovefed by the devices they were intended to be used with (erroneously called high-capacity magazines)in the hands of millions of determined Americans are that deterrent. A duck-hunting shotgun or bolt-action deer rifle is not. Yes, but assault rifles and high-capacity magazines werent around when the Second Amendment was written. The Founders never intended for civilians to own such weapons. Lets examine that often-heard but inaccurate statement. Of course semi-automatic, magazine-fed firearms were not yet a reality in the eighteenth century, but there is no documented desire on the part of the Founders to grant us only the right to keep and bear less effective arms than those possessed by a standing army or police force. Their intent was clearly to allow (and even to encourage) the people to keep and bear arms with the same capability as those which might be used against them. In modern-day America, that

Why assault rifles?

5 category would certainly include semi-automatic firearms of the type currently at the center of this debate.

Citizen disarmament is a well-established prerequisite to subjugation, and history is replete with examples. Perhaps the most instructive example is how the reasonable gun control of Germanys Weimar Republicregistration of firearms and licensing of their ownerslaid the groundwork for complete disarmament by the Nazis, paving the way for Hitlers murder of millions. The point is not that the current United States government intends to do us harm, but that such a possibility must always be guarded against; and that licensing and registration have led to unspeakable atrocities in the past.

Defense against individualsespecially groups of individualsintent on doing bodily harm and pillaging is yet another reason for law-abiding citizens to own semi-automatic firearms with standard capacity magazines. As weve seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the postRodney King Los Angeles riots, and other instances, the possibility of mob violence is very real. As we look for clues as to where that type of violence might occur in the future and what the flashpoint for it might be, consider this: The United States is currently more than $16 trillion in debt and that number will grow to at least $22 trillion by 2016. That is bad news for a number of reasons, but for the purposes of this discussion, the reality is that services will eventually have to be cut and benefits reduced or eliminated. There is simply no other alternative. When that occurs, people will become desperate; and desperate people tend to commit acts of desperation. I offer that possibility not to create fear, but rather in an attempt to tear away the cobwebs of complacency.

If and when such a societal breakdown occurs, the most likely targets for looting would be the suburbs and rural homes, after the downtown storefronts are demolished. Looters would gravitate to where the money and possessions are perceived to be, and where law enforcementat least whats left of it after budgets have been drastically reducedis virtually non-existent. Protecting ones family in this kind of situation calls for precisely the types of firearms found in Senator Dianne Feinsteins list of guns to be banned. Such

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6 misguided legislation must be opposed for this reason as well as on Constitutional grounds.

As I sit in my small home office writing this, I find myself looking at my gun safe and pondering the future of our country. In doing so, Im reminded of the fascination Ive had with firearms since my early teens, over thirty years ago, and I have to wonder, why? What does such a fascination say about me and millions of others who feel the same way? After all, didnt instruments like the ones inside my safe cause the tragedy at the root of our current turmoil? Isnt it safe to say that without firearmsespecially those types of firearmsSandy Hook and other similar tragedies would never have happened? We cant know the answer to that question. What I can say, with absolute certainty, is that neither my firearms, nor Adam Lanzas mothers firearms, caused that tragedy.

Firearms represent (perhaps better than any other object) the individual liberty that our Founders believed in so deeply and the resolve that they, and several generations of Americans since, have displayed so often. The independent streak and love for individual liberty that firearms represent is what has made the United States exceptionala shining light in a world of darkness that other countries have turned to in their time of need. It seems to me that theyand wecant have it both ways. The independent nature of the American people should not be curtailed in order to make us more like other countries that have less firearm-related violence but also value individual liberty far less than Americans do. Our independent nature is what caused us to rebel against the awesome power of King Georges England; its what drove us to send a man to the moon, and its what calls us to arms when we see oppression around the world and say, No more.

If one believes in the importance of maintaining our American independent streak, if individual liberty is to remain anything other than an antiquated concept, we (those of us who choose to) must remain armed, as our nations Founders intended. We must possess arms capable of meeting force with force, rather than owning just squirrel rifles and

Why assault rifles?

7 duck-hunting shotguns. We must remain capable, as individual citizens, of keeping tyranny at bay, whether it presents itself from within or from without. In 1960, President John F. Kennedy reminded us: Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation, the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships, in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important. Not surprisingly, Im incapable of saying it any more clearly than President Kennedy did over a half century ago. Firearmsespecially those types of firearmsare critical to keeping the United States truly free. Those who would strip law-abiding Americans of the tools required to guarantee liberty need to understand that we will not surrender in the face of emotion and agenda-driven politics. We should not let the actions of a handful of madmen be used as an excuse to deprive us of our Constitutional rights. When were told its for your own good, let us all stand firm, for the good of the republic we were intended to be, and refuse to trade liberty for the false promise of safety.

Rob Olive is the author of Essential Liberty, a novel that presents a disturbing scenario in which firearm confiscation has become a reality in present-day America.

Essential Liberty is available at: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Essential-Liberty-RobOlive/dp/0985902000/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344957718&sr=11&keywords=essential+liberty

Barnes & Noble (Nook Only): http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/essential-liberty-robolive/1112116988?ean=2940014827973&isbn=2940014827973

Why assault rifles?