Are Gun Rights Absolute?

Again we are joined in the “gun control” debate courtesy of the Connecticut legislature passing the most restrictive gun control/ban legislation in the nation.

Several comments about magazine capacity got me to thinking about how this simple statement signifies how diametrically opposed the views of the left and right are on the concept of “rights”. The right sees “rights” as absolute, the left sees them as something always subject to modification.

Courtesy of commenter DavefromOZ, here is the statement:

What exactly do you need more than 10 bullets in your gun for if not to massacre people? If you can’t hit a target with less than 10 bullets I suggest you spend more time at the shooting range practicing your aim.

First, let’s examine the logic of this statement in the context of its effectiveness in resolving the stated problem of stopping school shootings.

I think that we all can agree that this recent wave of “gun control” legislation was prompted by the Newtown school tragedy.

@Dave’s “logic” presupposes that:

  • Any magazine of more than a 10 round capacity has no role other than to massacre people and,
  • You should only need 10 rounds or less to protect yourself.

Our readers know that I am a shooter and own several weapons, some of which could be termed “assault weapons” under the current definition. Other than my 9-shot Hi-Standard .22 revolver (that was my grandfather’s), all of my handguns have mags that hold more than 10 rounds. I am what most would call a “good shot” but being a “good shot” is a learned skill that requires hundreds of rounds fired and hours of dry firing of my handguns to create the muscle memory for a consistent trigger pull. It is a lot like a good golf swing that requires constant practice to maintain.

Today, after months of practice, I can consistently shoot a 3 inch group of 5 shots at 10-15 yards (30-45 feet) and a 6 inch group at 20-25 yards (60-75 feet) from a bench rest. When I first got back from two non-shooting years in the UK, I could only hit the large center mass of a silhouette target at 15 yards and only about 1-2 out of 14 shots (the magazine capacity of my .40 SW Beretta) would have been considered serious enough to kill an attacker.

And I have operated shotguns, rifles and handguns since I was 10 years old.

Even though the ranges have been crowded since Newtown and the threat of gun bans, based on the sheer number of people who own handguns for personal/home defense, I would feel safe in stating that many do not spend any appreciable time on a range.

That would seem to indicate that a handgun would not be very effective for personal protection but that is not true. Handguns are specifically designed to be a close-order combat weapon. In a home defense situation, the distances between the attacker and the defender are likely to be compressed. If someone is inside your home, it is likely that the proximities are going to be at a distance somewhat less than the size of an average room, which would likely be 5-6 yards (15 to 18 feet) unless you live in Downton Abbey. At these distances, the likelihood of an unpracticed shooter to hit a large center mass with a handgun is greatly improved.

Subtractive from this accuracy is, of course, the adrenaline and accelerated breathing and heartbeat of being placed in a “fight or flight” situation. This is something that simply cannot be overcome by someone who is not practiced in the art of marksmanship. A few years ago, I decided to set up a combat range on my farm where a few of us could simulate a level of stress by shooting two magazines under time constraints and on the move. None of the targets was over 10 yards (many down to 5 yards) from the firing point as we moved and yet my first trip through the range yielded a total of 2 hits out of 28 rounds on 8 inch diameter steel targets – an accuracy rate of 7%.

Simple math would tell you that if my rate was 7% the likelihood of an unpracticed individual in a “fight or flight” situation hitting a target (with a shot capable of actually stopping the attack) with a 10 round magazine is pretty low…and just putting rounds in a body doesn’t necessarily kill the attacker as this Atlanta area mom found out. She put 5 out of 6 .38 caliber rounds in him and he survived. Only the threat of another shot kept him from continuing the attack or escaping, so it is clear in this case that the threat another potential round represented was a deterrent.

What if you were in Newtown, missed the first 10 times and yet could have stopped Adam Lanza with the 11th round? Who is to say that couldn’t have happened? @Dave? What special knowledge or experience does he have from Australia that would prove that?

It occurs to me that the other thing a mandated 10 round magazine for all weapons does is give the attacker a level of confidence.

Because even though most thugs aren’t that bright, the majority of criminals can count to 10.

They know that in a rapid defense situation the average person will only have the one magazine that is either in or near the weapon.

All they have to do is to wait for number 10.

So tell me again why we only “need” 10 rounds or less and how anything more has no use except to massacre people?

As far as how banning magazines will stop the potential massacres, it won’t. Killers, even insane ones, will adapt – they will practice or they will switch to an “area” weapon, like a shotgun, that requires significantly less practice and skill. As I have pointed out, a shotgun is a “point and click” close order weapon – it requires very little training to be used effectively.

A single 12 gauge double-aught shell typically contains 9 pellets of a size roughly equivalent to a .32-.38 caliber round. These are low velocity rounds that develop a full pattern of around 24+ inches at 15 yards. A standard shotgun without the plug in the magazine will hold 5 shells. That’s 45 pellets that could be fired in 5 trigger pulls at people grouped together in small area to deadly effect. Modify the shotgun to cut the barrel to 18 inches and that “open choke” pattern will increase about 3X to about 70 inches and a much more deadly weapon inside about 5-6 yards.

Sawed-off shotguns (barrels less than 24 inches) are already illegal but all it takes to make one is a $5 hacksaw from Home Depot.

To ignore this as the “hair on fire” crowd screams “we must do something” is just idiotic and an exercise in symbolism over substance.

Even with a handgun like my Beretta, I can guarantee that a marksman with my average skills could walk into a close order, static (unarmed) target environment (where they know that they are not under immediate threat) with three 14 round magazines and could hit at least 30 targets.

The point being that to think that simply reducing the number of rounds – even to one in the chamber – would stop killings is simply not rational. It may reduce the numbers of fatalities but at the same time it limits the ability of the “good guys” to oppose the threat because they have the same limits.

Banning guns is 1) unconstitutional, 2) physically and practically impossible and 2) taking the ability to respond to threats away from the average law abiding citizen. The focus should be on stopping the criminals, not restricting individual rights and relegating personal defense to a communal police responsibility. The solution has been proven – it isn’t fewer guns, it is more guns, less crime.

Protecting your person and personal property has always been the hallmark of a free society. The answer to the question if the right to bear arms is absolute is “yes”.

15 thoughts on “Are Gun Rights Absolute?

  1. The gun banners do not believe in the natural law of, and right to, self defense. They give lip service to it, but believe they have the right and duty to limit an individual’s right to self defense.

    An assault rifle is a rifle capable of FULLY automatic operation. A SEMI- AUTOMATIC weapon can never be an assault rifle by accurate definition.

    What the gun banners really mean by “assault rifle”?
    A smaller group of firearms I hope to be able to pass a law to ban now.

    When planning for a disaster, one plans for worse case scenario. Not the average 1 on 1 hypothetical shown in the movies. Criminals do not operate singly or alone. They move about in vehicles and group together in numbers of 2,3,4 or more, as they need someone for a lookout, someone to drive, and over-whelming force of the chosen victim once action is taken.

    “Worse case scenario” could be a group of 2-5, or more, forcing entry into your home to take you and your family hostage, torture, rape, and murder you and your family members. No, this is not made up scenario. Infrequent? yes. But happens every so often. There are roving groups of internationally trained criminal cartels who do these things. These cases are “kept quiet” and not reported to the public.

    “Worse case scenario” could be a hurricane Katrina or Rodney King LA riots event.

    The pistol is known as a “sidearm” because it is an arm created to carry on ones’ person ALL of the time. A warrior understands and knows this and if they are going into a known fight, warriors take rifles & shotguns, not handguns.

    Average patrol officers now carry semi-automatic, box magazine fed, 16 inch rifles for a reason. They are the most effective arms they can legally possess and carry for a “worse case scenario” event.

    Tactical team officers no longer plan to enter the fray with only a handgun. If they have time to plan and coordinate, they take rifles and shotguns, with the handgun as a backup in case their primary weapon malfunctions.

    The murder last week in Texas of the Kaufman County District Attorney and his wife, a 23 year Army veteran, publicly stated he was always carrying a handgun. He and his wife were found dead in their home with multiple gunshots and multiple empty casings.

    Sadly, a handgun was not enough protection.

    A handgun is not enough protection for your family or my family either.

    • But we should ban it because you don’t “need” it doesn’t matter if the definition fits (or lawmakers even understand what one is)…and besides, it is rewelly, rewelly scarewey.

      • The Texas Ranger carrying his “cocked and locked” Colt .45 was asked by a lady, “Isn’t that dangerous?”
        Ranger answered, “Yes Ma’am, that’s exactly why I’m carrying this.”

  2. My 14-year-old son and I just completed a conversation about gun control and his feelings about being disarmed. “Uh, Mom, would that mean we’d have to go hiking without a gun?” I explained that was where it was headed potentially.

    He stared at the floor for a moment.

    “Maybe — well, I think President Obama and his, his people … they should have to go hiking in the woods without a gun … you know, like Dad and I did up in Moose Valley … and … well, no TV or guards or anything … I think Brownie would change their mind for them.” He rubbed his chin. “Well, if they lived.”

    Brownie, btw, is the grizzly bear that frequents our cabin site.

    I think the kid may be on to something brilliant. Obama rubbed in bacon grease released into the woods near our cabin site. We could tell him its a golfing vacation and the bacon grease is good to keep the mosquitoes away. Since he doesn’t believe he needs a gun, we’ll give him a chain saw and see if he does as well as my husband did in that situation.

    And, then, because I am a nice person and, more or less committed to non-violence, I’ll shoot the bear before it eats him … you know, right after he screams like a girl and wets himself (Obama, not the bear) and PROVE to him that he NEEDS a gun.

      • My husband was brushing lines to stake our claim to this cabin site — cutting down trees and calculating angles through the forest. He was doing math so not making noise when a moose came stampeding out of the woods. He backed her off with his voice and she ran around him. Then the brush moved down slope and a big brown head popped out. A grizzly bear. He’d missed his chance at a moose, so my husband looked rather tasty. My husband had to sprint through an obstacle course of fallen trees to his chain saw about 200 feet away. By the time he got there (and it miraculously started on the first pull) the bear was about 30 feet away and closing.

        I think Obama would have a different view of guns after that. My husband certainly did.

      • Then there was our friend who was mountain biking down an established trail. He’s been bush-whacking for 40 years and never felt the need for a gun … until he cam face to face with a grizzly last summer. He threw his mountain bike at the bear and climbed a tree. The bear spent about an hour under the tree waiting for him to come down before wandering off for less frightened game. Our friend bought a gun the very next day.

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