4/95 Semi-Autos For Self-Defense

Let people choose how to protect themselves
Larry Pratt
Executive Director
Gun Owners of America

It’s been said the definition of a fool is one that redoubles his efforts, even when his methods have proven ineffective.

Such foolishness has plagued the gun control debate. Despite the failure of gun bans in Washington, D.C., New York City and other places, gun haters continue to call for more and more restrictions.

But there is a silver lining in all of this madness. Congress is currently revisiting the ban on more than 180 types of semi-automatic firearms. And it should. The law must be repealed.

The statistics certainly tell us that so-called assault weapons are not the criminals’ weapon of choice. The Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that violent criminals only carry or use a “military-type gun” in about one percent of the crimes nationwide.

And according to the FBI, people have a much greater chance of being killed by a knife or a blunt object than by any kind of rifle, including an “assault rifle.” In Chicago, the chance is 67 times greater. That is, a person is 67 times more likely to be stabbed or beaten to death in Chicago than to be murdered by an “assault rifle.”

One can’t have it both ways. If one wants to ban truly dangerous weapons, then we should start by banning knives and baseball bats.

But why, the skeptics ask, would someone need an “assault weapon.” Surely, one doesn’t need such a gun to hunt deer.

First of all, the Second Amendment was never about hunting deer or any other game. To quote a U.S. Senate Subcommittee report from 1982, the purpose of the Second Amendment was “to create an armed citizenry . . . considered essential to ward off tyranny.”

Those who think that the government could never act in an excessive fashion only need to look to Waco, Texas and Ruby Ridge, Idaho (to name just a couple of instances). The armed assaults by government agents against law-abiding, non-violent citizens in both places resulted in dead women and children, and the subsequent attempts by officials to cover-up their actions.

Secondly, semi-automatics are especially good for women and for those who must defend themselves against multiple offenders. Consider the testimonies of two citizens who appeared before a House Judiciary Subcommittee in March:

* Sharon Ramboz is a small, frail woman who hardly looks anything like a “Rambo.” Nevertheless, she chose to defend her three young children one morning with a Colt AR-15 rifle — a firearm covered by the 1994 gun ban.

Ms. Ramboz stated that she chose this gun, because unlike a shotgun, the kick of the AR-15 when fired is not overpowering for a woman of her stature. Happily, she reported that the mere presence of her gun was enough to “send multiple perpetrators scurrying” without a shot even being fired.

* Gary Baker is a jewelry store owner in Virginia. He and his employees were forced to defend themselves against two offenders last December. Both attackers were career criminals — one was on parole while the other was wanted by the FBI. In defending their store, Mr. Baker and his workers spent 35 round of ammunition before the thugs finally put down their weapons.

“If I was the only person responsible for defending my employees or even myself, I would never have had enough ammunition with a five-shot revolver,” Baker said. “I would have needed a semiautomatic firearm and several high capacity magazines.”

Clearly, one does not have to be a jewelry store owner to find multiple offenders threatening one’s life. Riots and natural disasters typically bring out roving gangs which terrorize unarmed citizens who simply rely on police. Unfortunately, the “thin blue line” is usually overwhelmed during such emergencies.

Mr. Baker’s point should be well taken. The police are rarely present during the commission of a violent crime. Thus, one needs to be adequately prepared. But if one must face multiple opponents, one needs a gun that shoots more than just five or six bullets.

The ban imposed by Congress will only work to disarm decent Americans. Criminals should not be expected to obey a gun ban any more than they obey a drug ban. Congress should repeal the semi-auto ban and allow law-abiding Americans to decide how they want to protect themselves. After all, it’s Congress’ job to protect people’s rights, not to decide what Americans do or don’t need.