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Jonah's Run Baptist Church

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Can You Buy Military Grade Weapons

Assault weapons with large-capacity magazines have become the weapon of choice for assailants seeking to perpetrate mass casualty attacks for a reason. These uniquely dangerous firearms are equipped with features that facilitate mass shootings, and must be regulated accordingly.

can you buy military grade weapons

In the absence of federal legislation regulating assault weapons, states must take it upon themselves to protect their residents from mass shootings by regulating or banning the sale and manufacture of these uniquely dangerous weapons.

Wounds caused by assault weapons are more severe and lethal than wounds caused by other firearms, and, particularly when paired with large capacity magazines, assault weapons can injure more people more quickly.

A growing body of research demonstrates that banning assault weapons can help to prevent gun violence, and mass shootings in particular. Studies of both the lapsed federal assault weapons ban and state-level assault weapons bans show that these laws help to reduce fatalities and injuries from mass shootings, as well as the use of assault weapons in crime.

As described above, studies show that the federal assault weapons ban resulted in a marked decrease in the use of assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines in crime.

Nine states (California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York), as well as the District of Columbia, have enacted laws that generally ban the sale, manufacture, and transfer of assault weapons. Three other states (Minnesota, Virginia, and Washington) have also enacted laws that place some additional safety requirements and regulations on assault weapons, though these regulations fall far short of the general ban on the sale and manufacture of assault weapons enacted in the other nine states above.

The earliest assault weapon restrictions were enacted in the District of Columbia as part of a 1932 federal law, with the remaining nine states first adopting legislation to prohibit assault weapons later in the 20th century, starting with California.16

California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, and New York prohibit transfer of all or most legacy weapons owned prior to the adoption of a ban. California, Connecticut, and Delaware limit the places where a legacy weapon may be possessed.34 In Massachusetts and New Jersey, legacy weapons may only be sold and possessed if the owner has a license. Additional information on licensing of firearm owners is contained in our summary on Licensing.

In 2018, Washington voters approved a ballot initiative (effective July 1, 2019) that imposes certain stronger regulations on the sale and possession of most semiautomatic rifles, including a 10-day waiting period, stronger safety training standards and higher minimum age standards for purchasers, and restrictions on where individuals aged 18-21 may lawfully possess these weapons.35

Note: Before I get started, if you're like Rep. Alan Grayson or Sen. Bernie Sanders, both of whom I admire greatly and neither of whom seems to know the difference between a fully automatic weapon and a semiautomatic weapon, then we should get something straight before going any further: The AR-15 is not an "automatic weapon." As we'll see shortly, the range of firearms that fall (to one degree or another) into the category of "AR-15" is staggeringly diverse, but one thing they all have in common is that they all fire only one round with each pull of the trigger. In contrast, the AR-15's military sibling, the M16, is capable of fully automatic fire, which means that the gun will keep spitting out bullets as long as the trigger is pressed and the magazine is loaded.

My point in bringing up the lever action rifle is that civilians have been buying "weapons of war" for a very long time, since the black powder musket days. This is partly because soldiers who come home from wars to enter civilian life often want to buy a version of the weapon they were trained on and trusted their life to. And it's also because "military grade" is widely (if sometimes mistakenly) understood to mean "this technology has been tested in the real world, the kinks have been worked out, and its reliability and effectiveness have been proven in the field by an entity with the resources of an entire nation at its disposal."

Thus it is that since the dawn of the gunpowder age, gun buyers have snapped up military hardware, because that is often the very best hardware they can get their hands on. In this respect, today's AR-15 buyers are no different than yesteryear's lever action rifle buyers.

This is all part of the reason why I, a civilian, own a military-grade combat weapon. I don't want to shoot and miss; I don't want the gun to jam because it's dirty or cold; and when I'm hunting game I don't want to hit my target and then have it run off into the woods and die lost and wounded because I didn't "bring enough gun." Like my grandpa with his "military-grade" lever action rifle, I want a modern firearm that's popular (which means parts and training are cheaply and widely available), ergonomic, rugged, accurate, and reliably effective, so that none of the aforementioned bad things happen to me when I'm shooting.

But, you'll argue, isn't the AR-15 uniquely deadly? Unlike the lever action rifle, isn't the black rifle a weapon of godlike power, suitable only for putting as much lead on the battlefield in as short a time as possible? And in their desire to own one of these turbocharged weapons of mass slaughter, which is clearly overkill for anything but mowing down herds of humans, aren't today's AR-15 buyers uniquely twisted and callous? Isn't it time that gun buyers settled for second or third or fourth best, for the "good of the their fellow citizens"?

Similarly, the individual members of police and military units can tailor the AR to a specific mission without the help of a professional armorer. Barrels can be swapped out, calibers changed, optics added or removed, and the gun can be totally transformed for every type of encounter, from a long-distance sniper shot at a hostage taker to a close-quarters drug raid in a crowded apartment complex.

If you're still with me, then maybe you're beginning to understand why the AR-15 platform is the most popular type of rifle in America. The AR-15's incredible flexibility, accuracy, and ease-of-use combine with its status as the most thoroughly tested and debugged firearm in military history to make it massively popular with shooters of all stripes, from hunters to home defense buyers to competitors to police. Parts for the AR are available everywhere, and the internet is chock full of maintenance information and training videos.

You may reject all of the rationales offered above, which is fine. It's totally respectable for you to admit that you don't believe the rationales for AR ownership outlined above are legitimate, and therefore we should outlaw civilian ownership of a very large category of weapons. But what isn't respectable is to argue this way, and then to turn around and claim that "nobody is coming for your guns!" That's insulting, and we both know it isn't true. Stop doing that.

All you do when you make a lot of noise about assault weapon bans, noise that you can't even remotely back up with legislative action, is boost sales of the very weapons you hope to eliminate. Truly, if you're gonna kill the king, you gotta kill the king; you can't just loudly threaten to kill the king, then lamely attempt to give him a wedgie (and fail at even that), and then not expect blowback.

More recently, I've written on the assault weapons ban in the context of a discussion of smart guns for Tech Crunch: "Why the NRA hates smart guns." (Although, the predecessor to that piece, which is about the general problems with smart guns, is a lot better than the NRA-focused follow-up.)

President Bill Clinton holds an AR-15 rifle during a White House ceremony in 1994 where he launched efforts to ban assault-style weapons. The ban was in place from 1994 to 2004. Dayton, Ohio Police Lt. Randy Bean, whose fellow officer was gunned down with an AR-15 in 1991, looks on. Dennis Cook/AP hide caption

Gun control advocates say the difference is minimal, arguing the AR-15, like its military version, is designed to kill people quickly and in large numbers - hence the term assault-style rifle. They say it has no valid recreational use, and civilians should not be allowed to own them.

"One of the things that we have seen in recent years after the assault weapons ban ended in 2004 was this really huge explosion of these boutique kind of rifle companies that are producing these very high-end rifles that are very customizable," said Alain Stephens, who's part of NPR's criminal justice team and a former member of the military.

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross. How did the U.S., a country pushed into a revolution by protest and political speech, become one where protests are met with flash grenades, pepper spray and platoons of riot teams dressed like Robocops? That's what my guest Radley Balko wrote seven years before the George Floyd protests in his book "Rise Of The Warrior Cop: The Militarization Of America's Police Forces." It's a history of how police forces started acquiring military-grade weapons, helicopters and armored personnel carriers designed for use on a battlefield and receiving training from current and former personnel from Special Forces units, like the Navy SEALs and Army Rangers.

BALKO: Yeah, it's banned by several treaties. It's not supposed to be used on the battlefield. And that's actually kind of one of the sort of ironies, I think, I've run into since writing the book, which is that - particularly after Ferguson, you saw this a lot - I heard from a lot of people currently or formerly in the military who objected to the term police militarization because they say, you know, in the military, we have better weapons trainings. We have rules of engagement that we have to follow. We have - we do after-action reports. There's actually more accountability in some ways in the military than there are in a lot of police departments in the United States. 041b061a72


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