In Media Masculinity (snicker) And The AR-15, I wrote of a brave journalist who suffered so we wouldn’t have to. He actually fired an AR-15, which left him battered, horrified, and with a temporary case of PTSD. In venturing into the arcane and terrifying world of firearms and their owners, that intrepid, if girly-manish, journalist was not breaking new literary ground. Such safaris into deepest, darkest red country are relatively common. What’s uncommon is a reporter that actually does more than ridicule the sister-marrying, missing toothed rubes that hosted his safari. Such a reporter is one Matthew Albright, writing in USA Today, in an article titled:
“Shooting an ‘assault weapon’ helped me understand the gun debate,” and subtitled:
“Opponents of assault weapons ban are winning because they have more concrete reasons to care about their guns than backers of the ban have to care about laws.”
I pull the trigger. There is a sharp cracking sound, and the stock kicks into my shoulder. Fifty feet in front of me, the paper target shudders, punctured with another bullet-hole.
I’m shooting too low, punching a cluster of shots just beneath the three-inch-wide orange circle at which I’m aiming. It has been years since I last shot a gun, and I’ve never used one like this.
Some people would call it an ‘assault rifle,’ and it certainly looks like one. It is a Smith and Wesson M&P 15-22, a .22-caliber semiautomatic. It is a smaller caliber look-alike of the controversial AR-15.
Anyone that would call an M&P 15-22 an assault rifle has a weak grasp of firearm nomenclature. It’s a .22LR rifle designed to reasonably closely resemble the AR-15 family in appearance and function. As in the earlier article I mentioned, we see a bit of hyperbole. The 15-22, like all .22LR rifles, has virtually no recoil and a mild report indeed. It’s a recoil impulse that would not daunt the daintiest 70 pound little girl. I wrote about the 22-15 back in 2012:
The Smith and Wesson M&P 22-15 is an excellent and inexpensive way to practice completely transferrable AR skills. Its light weight and miniscule recoil also makes it an excellent training weapon for any shooter. As with the AR family, the collapsible stock allows immediate length of pull adjustment for shooters of any stature and arm length. This is particularly useful for women and children who should always be encouraged to learn and appreciate shooting skills. The little rifle also has the advantage of looking very cool, which doesn’t hurt in attracting new shooters.
The gun in my hands could be made illegal if the Delaware General Assembly passes Senate Bill 163 — the ‘assault weapons ban’ that has become the most fiercely-contested legislation of this session. It would be a felony to buy, sell or transfer it — even to own it, unless you could prove you bought it before the ban took effect.
Such a law would ban the 15-22 essentially because it resembles an AR-15. Its action type—its mechanical/design characteristics—are identical to innumerable .22LR chambered rifles that would presumably not be banned. This is common, considering the necessarily irrational nature of such legislation. While the proposed law has a grandfather clause, such things are always merely a first step. When they do not accomplish anything for public safety, anti-liberty/gun cracktivists will demand confiscation, the only measure that can achieve the progressive paradise they seek.
The gun is fitted with an electronic sight, so, even as a relative novice, it doesn’t take long before I’m rapidly cycling between five different targets, the bullets chewing big holes in the orange circles.
There is a trance-like feeling to concentrating utterly on a target, focusing on the minute muscle movements that separate a hit from a miss. I can quickly understand the appeal of sport-shooting.
More profoundly, holding this firearm is immensely empowering. I understand how it would give its owner a sense of strength in protecting himself and his family.
Hmm. Albright appears, at least partially, to get it.
Shooting this gun, I soon get why gun owners are winning the battle over so-called ‘assault weapons’ in Delaware.
Even as the General Assembly makes bipartisan progress on other gun safety legislation, it hasn’t even been able to get SB 163 out of its first committee. The reason is simple: At the grass-roots level, opponents of an assault weapons ban have turned out in far greater numbers and with far greater fervor than proponents.
I don’t care how many national polls you show a state senator, they’re going to listen to what they hear directly from constituents. And, from what I hear, lawmakers are getting way more emails and phone calls from opponents of SB 163 than from supporters.
Why is there such an enthusiasm gap? I think it’s because, for most gun control supporters, ‘assault weapons’ are an abstract concept. For gun owners, they are concrete personal property.
Ah. Albright is onto something that escapes his colleagues. Gun ownership not only implicates the Second Amendment, but the Fourth Amendment. A direct property right is involved, and should the Delaware Legislature turn innumerable citizens into instant felons, the Fifth and Sixth Amendments, as well as others, will also be implicated. Let’s continue:
A gun control advocate can believe nobody should have magazines with more than ten bullets, but a gun owner knows how hard it is to hit a moving target in broad daylight, let alone in the dark while your fight-or-flight instinct is in high gear.
To say nothing of trying to hit multiple, hostile targets that are shooting first and shooting back.
Of course there are some gun owners and even ex-soldiers who support SB 163. But, by and large, most who support the ban have never touched the guns they want to ban.
These types of weapons are almost never used in crimes in Delaware. Supporters of a ban argue we shouldn’t wait for a shooting to happen but, as a practical political matter, there just aren’t that many Delawareans who have a personal reason to support a ban — and there are plenty who have personal reasons to oppose it.
Considering Albright is a journalist, he is being unusually honest and insightful. Certainly no one wants government to declare their lawful, particularly not their constitutionally protected personal property criminal, but this approach demonstrates that for the left, emotion is generally the primary motivating factor. Albright will almost certainly begin to notice he’s receiving no invitations to all the trendy progressive parties and events. This is particularly so in that he has complimentary things to say about his hosts and their unrelenting emphasis on safety.
I personally support most of the gun control bills in the General Assembly this year, but I was conflicted about the assault weapon ban even before I went to the Rifle and Pistol Club. I’m even more conflicted now.
One thing is clear to me: Second Amendment rights are far more than an abstract concept to those who defend them. And I have a hard time seeing how its supporters are going to get around that.
Albright’s conflict seems to be an emotional one. He’s experiencing conflicting feelings. As a matter of law, philosophy and logic the Second Amendment is unassailable. If human beings have a natural right to self-defense, to mere life, they have a right to the means to defend their lives. If they have a right to the means, they must have a right to carry those means whenever and wherever they might be. If not, there will such things as gun free zones where innocents are at the mercy of the insane and the criminal, where there is no natural right to self-defense and its application is possible only for the biggest, fastest, strongest and best trained—if they can get close enough to take out a shooter hand to hand before they are shot and killed. The Second Amendment is the ultimate women’s rights issue.
The Second Amendment acknowledges—it does not grant—the single most important right. Without the right to preserve one’s existence, what other right matters?
Perhaps someday, Albright and other journalists can come to this fundamental understanding. But for the time being, conflicting feelings are a step in the right direction.