Weapons of War
Semantics vs. Deadly Realities
In the Spring of 1944 my dad led a rifle platoon up the boot of Italy into the teeth of battle hardened German troops who possessed every strategic piece of high ground. That platoon of 36 soldiers carried M-1 semi-auto “Garrand” rifles that accepted an 8 round clip from the top, several BARs capable of automatic fire, and possibly some sub-machine guns He carried an M-30 carbine, with a 15 round clip and similar in firepower to a .45 semi-auto pistol.
The typical AR-15 rifle for sale comes with a standard 20 or 30 round magazine and fires a bullet at 3200 feet per second, faster than the M-1’s 2800 fps round and that of many hunting rifles. That high speed bullet hits with such high velocity that it causes shock wave trauma often inches in diameter around its path through the body and tends to tumble when it enters flesh, pulverizing bone and tissue and causing devastating wounds. The only significant difference between the AR sold in the store and the M-16 military rifle it was modeled after is the absence of an automatic fire option and a bayonet mount.
Rifle soldiers today rarely fire on automatic, which burns through ammo too quickly and is hardly necessary with a weapon that fires as quickly as the trigger can be pulled. Their combat mission most commonly is to put down a heavy volume of fire, preferably with accuracy, on the enemy position so that their fellow troopers can advance. The M-!6 was specifically designed to do this and the AR-15 is equally capable.
My dad would have happily pitched his carbine into a ditch for an AR-15, fresh off the shelf of today’s big box store. His riflemen (boys really) would have done the same. As excellent as their Garands proved to be in executing their missions, they could only put down a fraction of the covering fire of which today’s commercial AR-15 is capable, and cover fire is necessary to approach an entrenched machine gun position on high ground . This proved to be critical for my dad; leading one such assault he was mowed down by a hidden soldier with a machine pistol and barely survived. The military round that struck him from a range of about 30 feet passed cleanly through his chest, missing by fractions of an inch his heart and aorta. Had that round come from an AR-15 he would have died instantly.
Dad remained a faithful, dues paying member of the NRA until the time in his ‘90s when he could no longer manage his finances. He did not believe that the NRA promoted the sale of infantry capable weapons and I didn’t have the heart to take him into a local gun store and show him the kind of firearms they willingly sell to teenagers. After seeing and participating in far more gun violence than any person should have to tolerate, he thought keeping a loaded gun in the home for personal defense was a crazy idea. Our guns were always dismantled and hidden away. We took them out only to practice or hunt.
AR-15s and all similar firearms are in their essence, weapons of war. Promoters will claim that people fear them because they look scary, which is true. Promoters will NOT acknowledge that any sane arms expert will fear the firepower and potential to cause mass horrific casualties of this firearm, just as it comes off the retail shelf.
Our armed forces control access to and use of these kinds of weapons most carefully. Our armed forces are completely aware of their fearsome power. Our legislators, on the other hand, fear the gun lobbies that can threaten their cushy jobs far more than they fear the votes of people who are revolted by school massacres. Why is that?
Are voters just too checked out and cynical to believe that they can require more from their representatives in Congress? Do they forget and move on before the next election, the next chance to demand that weapons of war be taken off the streets, be as tightly controlled by civil authorities as they are by our military? Grieving parents and families would like to know.