Reply to -- Why I Joined the NRA, An NRA Member Replies

By Bruce A. Clark (Written 4/8/96)

The following is taken from the NRA newsletter "Grassfire", 1/96:

Data on so-called "assault weapons" come from state and local law enforcement agencies, not FBI, but FBI does report on weapons used to kill law enforcement officers. From FBI's most recent "Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted" report (1993): during the previous decade about 2-3% of law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of duty were killed with "assault weapons."

Based upon preliminary data for 1994 and the first part of 1995, 130 officers were killed with firearms; sufficient information provided to determine whether the firearm was an assault weapon in about 80 cases. Of these, assault weapons used in 15; other firearms included small, low-caliber semi-auto pistols, .410 shotguns, target pistols, etc. Some medium and large-caliber semi-auto pistols were used. ... FBI reports: 73% of officers' murderers have prior arrests, 56% prior convictions, 23% on probation or parole at the time of the killing.

The following is from the NRA Firearms Fact Sheet, 1995:

Historically, the restrictions and bans on cheap handguns ("suicide specials" or "Saturday night specials" or whatever) have been racially based. It has been a good way to keep guns out of the hands of Blacks and other minorities without explicitly stating that that is what one wants to do. This is because such weapons are often the only ones which Blacks, and the poor in general, can afford. Considering that the crime rates in minority neighborhoods tend to be higher than in white neighborhoods, it seems clear to me that the residents need the means to defend themselves even more than does society in general. Targeting them, directly or indirectly, to deprive them of these means, is something that I would not touch with a ten-foot pole (nor with one of any other length), even if I were of a mind to restrict law-abiding people's access to guns. You might find the article "The Racist Roots of Gun Control" interesting. I have read another article on the subject, "Laws Designed To Disarm Slaves, Freedmen, and African-Americans", which is mostly summaries of these race laws, including statements regarding the race-related aspects of the gun control law of 1968. It's fascinating.

This is what most of the gun control movement says. But in practice it is one "reasonable" proposal, and a call for compromise, then another, and more calls for compromise, then another, and so forth. It is really banning guns by inches. Right! I would prefer to keep it as a matter of principle, too, but when one tries to do that, you or someone else in favor of gun control says "Look at all of the people that are being killed by XXX weapon," and statistics are the only answer for that. In fact, there are a minuscule number of people being killed by "assault weapons", and even that data is hard to come by. As for semi-automatic weapons in general, the data, real, hard data, just isn't there to say that there are lots of people being killed by them. Unless you are saying that if even one person is killed by some nut, all weapons like that used by the nut must be banned, then I think you are obligated to look at and consider the statistics. Yes, this sounds off-hand like cost-benefit analysis, but I think there is a distinction. If you try to pass enough laws and ban enough "dangerous" things to protect every person from every possibly act of every possible lunatic or criminal, then you will put all of society in prison. If you are not saying this, then you must decide how much is enough to warrant overriding a fundamental right, and to make such a decision, you must look at the statistics. And if there had been someone present with a concealed weapon, he or she could probably have prevented all or most of it. I can't understand why all of the blame gets heaped on a mass of inert material and not on the person using it. When the United States bombed Cambodia during the Vietnam War, were people demonstrating against the bombs themselves or agains Nixon who ordered the strikes? So why the double standard? Like many other tools, they are only dangerous in the wrong hands. To me, it is morally wrong to punish the innocent and take away something which they find important (regardless of what you think of it) because of the acts of the guilty.