Come and Take It

"You may all go to hell, and I will go to Texas."

Every Gun is an “Assault Weapon”

Following the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School, we’ve heard the predictable chorus from the left for a reinstatement of the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 or even more stringent gun control measures. As a shooter, gun collector and sportsman, I find myself bemused by the ever evolving definition of “assault weapon,” and amazed by the nonsensical notion that banning such weapons will prevent incidents of mass violence.

The Bushmaster .223 allegedly used by Adam Lanza is only the latest incarnation of the “assault weapon.”


In fact, nearly every gun I own was designed as an “assault weapon” and used as such at one time militarily.

There are several black powder guns in my gun safe. My son’s favorite is a Colt Navy 1851 percussion cap revolver reproduction by Uberti.


As the pistol’s name suggests, the Colt Navy 1851 was originally produced as a military weapon, and was extremely popular with forces of both the North and South in the Civil War. This quaint revolver was, in its day, a fearsome “assault weapon.”

Like millions of American sportsmen, I do most of my deer hunting with a bolt-action rifle. I shoot a Thompson/Center Icon Classic chambered in .30-06.


My T/C Icon is a tack driver, but I bought it primarily for its beautifully figured, high-grade walnut stock. It’s rifleman eye candy, and every time I uncase it at the deer camp I do so to the oohs and aahs of my fellow hunters.

My deer rifle, like all bolt-action rifles, is directly descended from the Mauser M98 rifle first used by the German Army in 1898. The Mauser rifle and its variants were so successful that they served as the primary infantry “assault weapon” of both WWI and WWII. Close copies like the American Springfield M1903, the British P14 Enfield and the Japanese Arisaka were used by the combatants of those nations. All told, the bolt-action “assault weapon” antecedents of my innocuous deer rifle have accounted for millions of war casualties. Lest anyone think the bolt-action rifle is unsuited for mass mayhem and murder, bear in mind that a bolt-action hunting rifle was the primary weapon of Charles Whitman in the Texas Tower massacre of 1966.

Virtually all projectile weapons have been used for armed conflict at one time or another. This is true of firearms, the bow and arrow, spears, etc., all the way back to the first rocks thrown by our distant hominid ancestors. The evolution of projectile weapons has been an inexorable progression towards greater power, accuracy and reliability, higher rates of fire, and more rapid reloading. In armed conflict, small differences in these factors can spell the difference between life and death. When it comes to firearms, newer is generally better.

Although modern firearms are superior, older designs are not ineffective. In modern warfare the most up-to-date weapons provide a small tactical edge to our troops, but when it comes to a criminal madman’s capacity to slaughter innocent, unarmed men, women and children, the type of firearm used is practically irrelevant. Adam Lanza used an AR-style rifle because it was available. But make no mistake, against defenseless children and school teachers, two braces of Colt Navy 1851 black powder revolvers would have produced exactly the same horrific result.

Banning specific types of guns, or even all guns, will do absolutely nothing to curb massacres by psychotic murderers. Criminals and madmen, by definition, don’t obey the law. Norwegian gun laws are among the most restrictive on the planet, but that didn’t stop Anders Behring Breivik from obtaining firearms and slaughtering dozens of innocents at a Norwegian youth camp in 2011. Even if we somehow managed to ban and confiscate all firearms, that wouldn’t stop psychotic nutballs like Lanza and Breivik. Breivik slaughtered eight and wounded hundreds with a homemade bomb. In fact, as the 9/11 hijackers so amply demonstrated, when the victims are defenseless, even simple edged weapons will suffice.

Firearms are inanimate objects. Not once in my life has one of my guns ever unlocked the gun safe from the inside, loaded itself, crawled out onto the street (let alone into an elementary school), and shot someone. Rather than placing (proven to be ineffectual) bans on certain types of firearms, which punish only sane, law abiding citizens, perhaps we ought to concentrate on the real problem: the person behind the gun. We need to do a better job of identifying the psychotic and potentially violent individuals among us, and getting them help before they go on a rampage.


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19 thoughts on “Every Gun is an “Assault Weapon”

  1. doodlebugger on said:

    I love the heck out of you son. When was the last time a UK crowd of children got shot down by an AR 15? I have two hunting rifles and am thinking about an AR myself in 7.62. That said, I just do not see this happening in other Western nations.
    And, well, other Western nations don’t have so many weapons. Yes evry weapon is an assualt weapon but more people would have escaped if the guy had a Weatherby bolt action right?
    The batman guy a few months ago? I don’t see this happening elsewhere like this.
    We have some kind of problem here. And using auto weapons and handguns occurs alot more in our country than elsewhere. So, I see things as needing to change . I’m more moderate than most anti gun activists, but, I definitely see a problem that will get worse not better without a change in how one interprets the word “militia” in the Constitution. How do you know someones not law abiding before they waste 25 6 year olds or half a movie theater. It can’t be done. Ergo,
    some kind of change has to occur here. We should all keep an open mind on both sides of this spectrum.
    Tracy, you’re awesome friend. Love the heck out of ya and your whole family.:)

    • Well, doodle, the Norwegian nut job killed 69 kids and shot 110 more with a Ruger Mini-14 in 2011, so it does happen in other Western nations with extremely restrictive gun laws. The Hungerford school massacre of 1987 resulted in the UK’s highly restrictive gun laws, but that still hasn’t stopped gun violence in the UK, as the Durblane shootings of 2010 demonstrate. In fact, gun violence in the UK has risen sharply in recent years despite highly restrictive gun laws. (See, for instance, All of this belabors the obvious: guns themselves are not the problem; cultural and community degradation are the problem.

      As for the Batman guy, consider this: the 5.56 NATO round is a weak, frangible load. It comes apart when it hits *anything*. Stories of its failure to put down bad guys in combat are legion. It’s so wimpy that it’s illegal for use on deer-sized game in many states. Now, think about what would happen if you touched off a .30-06 or a .308 in a crowded theater, either of which carry almost three times the muzzle energy of the 5.56. My son once shot a 3/8″ steel plate pistol target with his M1A as a joke, and that round cut through that steel plate like a hot knife through butter. That .30-06 round is going to go through and through everything it encounters in that crowded theater until it runs into a concrete floor or wall, and then it’s going to ricochet around a bit. A high-powered bolt-action rifle, particularly one using box magazines or en bloc clips, is every bit as much of a nightmare as an AR in a crowded theater. So, are we going to outlaw bolt-actions, too? What about semi-auto pistols? Put Batman guy into that theater with a pair of 1911’s and some extra mags, and what happens? How about S&W revolvers with speed loaders? Have you ever seen Jerry Miculek work a wheel gun? (See I’m no Jerry Miculek, and I can’t reload my wheel guns *quite* as fast as I can my semi-autos, but the speed difference isn’t enough to make a difference if I’m out to mow down defenseless movie goers.

      A demented guy with a gun, *ANY* kind of gun, who wants to kill people, is bad, bad, bad news. Banning ARs and high cap magazines won’t fix *anything*. So yeah, something has to change, but banning so-called “assault weapons” ain’t it. I don’t know if it’s possible to preemptively ID guys like Lanza and Holmes, but everybody who knew these guys knew there was something off about them. Maybe enhancing clinical psychology methods to ID the potential murderously psychotic nutballs, and then monitoring them very closely, or even institutionalizing them, is a better solution.

      Merry Christmas to you and yours, my friend! I can’t wait for MotoGP!!!

  2. captsternn on said:

    The term Assault Weapon was created to intetionally confuse people, to make people think of Assault Rifles and confuse semi-automatics with select fire military weapons. The Assault Weapons were classified not based on function, but on cosmetics. And don;t forget, there were four mass shootings, including Columbine, while that Assault Weapons Ban was in effect.

    Now people are talking about “military grade weapons”, and TThor is right that all firearms were once military grade. The AR-15 was close to military grade back in the Vietnam Era and up through the 1980s. It has been replaced with more advanced weapons that are not available to the public based on a law passed back in 1986.

    What do most of the mass shootings have in common? They were done in gun-free zones. Those gun-free zones are the real problem, places where many people gather and are disarmed and defensless. We need to look at banning gun-free zones, better known as free-kill zones. Don’t see people shooting up gun stores or gun ranges.

    Doodlebugger, by U.S. Code, the militia is made up of all able bodied males between the age of 17 and 45. It is more important to look at “the people” under the Bill of Rights. Thatn means individual rights, not collective and not having to belong to an organization. The 2nd amednment does not grant rights anyway, nor does it grant congress any additional powers.

    TThor, that T/C 30.06 is nice, but I went with the Remington Model 700 Bolt Action. That’s what my dad has hunted with since I was a kid. I only got that a few years ago. As a kid and into early adulthood I hunted mostly with my grandfather’s 30-30 lever action. He left it to me since that was the one I used to kill my first deer. Made in the early 1950s. I bought another that was made in the 1980s, same make and model, but not as well built imo.

    • Cap, ain’t nuthin’ wrong with a Remington 700… 🙂

      • Tuttabella on said:

        I prefer a Remington Noiseless myself — a Remington Noiseless typewriter, that is!

      • Tuttabella are you insinuating that the typewriter is mightier than the gun?
        I always liked the saying that the pen is mightier than the sword – which was an update on Shakespeare’s “Many wearing rapiers are afraid of goosequills.”

        Maybe, Tracy and Cap would prefer General MacArthur: “Whoever thinks the pen is mightier than the sword clearly has never encountered automatic weapons”

      • Tuttabella on said:

        OV: Cap does say that he posts primarily for activist purposes, and he likens posting comments to warfare, to conquering lies and evil so that truth and good may prevail, and that it is a choice for just a handful of people to go to “war,” and that not everyone has the inclination or the stomach (morning sickness, anyone?) to fight this “War of the Words.” Them’s fightin’ words, OV.

        About 15 years ago I took an intelligence test online, and I was classified as a “word warrior,” which I’m sure just meant I had a general talent for language, but the use of the word “warrior” to describe me strikes me now as ironic, because I usually try to approach verbal disputes with grace.

      • Tuttabella on said:

        OV: Cap may be a warrior, but he did break bread with me last night, literally.

      • Well, Tutabella, breaking bread is fine as long as CaptS remembers which side his bread is buttered on.

        I wonder if Cap also thinks of posting comments as a competitive game. (Any insights here Cap?) I remember my dad and uncle spending endless hours in front of a chessboard oblivious to anything else.

        Far from causing “morning sickness,” writing comments has been a way to decrease stress for me. One reason I changed my avatar from feline to canine is that I’m more like a friendly dog given to occasional bouts of barking than a discerning and more cautious cat.

        Then, too, commenting has made me into more of a researcher. It’s easy to just spout off, but I do try to read up on a subject if I’m going to comment on specifics. Right now, I’m reading “The Rocks Don’t Lie” by David R. Montgomery so I will know a little more about geology if the subject of any chron blog turns to science and religion. I’m so impressed by comments written by Tracy and TigerDog, but I feel completely inadequate to make a post of my own.

  3. Tuttabella on said:

    Some of us are avid gun collectors, others are collectors of typewriters . . .

    • captsternn on said:

      There are avid gun collectors, there are “preppers”, there are avid typewriter collecters and even once comic book collectors. I guess collectors of typewriters are much like gun collectors, just focused on a different right but with the same purpose. That purpose being the defense of our individual liberty and rights. Are there “assault typewriters”? Would that be modern keyboards, blogs and comment sections? Did the founding fathers ever envision such freedom of speech?

  4. Tuttabella on said:

    Interesting how we had “Noiseless” typewriters and “Quiet Riters,” just as we have gun silencers, as if the mere sound is offensive to others, or as a way of protecting the privacy of the shooter/writer.

  5. jericho777 on said:

    Reblogged this on Jericho777's Blog.

  6. Susan Keene on said:

    Tracy–I finally tapped into your blog to see what you have to share. I cannot speak for Larry, other than to say, I am sure he would be responding. As for myself, I only have two comments: 1) I think you know way too much about weapons of any sort, and 2) when you refer to the placing of bans on certain types of firearms as punishing only sane, law abiding citizens, I feel certain that many owners of firearms are not sane, law abiding citizens. Some of these gun owners who have addressed various panels on this discussion hardly appear clear-headed. I would easily see them as potentially violent, Then, who do I report them to, and for what reason? Clearly I am not a gun person, but I do not deny the right to own. I just think that if we do nothing, than we’ve missed our best opportunity to make some changes. I personally don’t want to live in a world where my grandchildren have to pass through security and have armed persons in their school building. And arming school teachers and administrators is another subject altogether, which, of course, I have an opinion on. But, not for today.

    As some of your responders, I do not spend lots of time reading up on the subject so that I can argue facts. I just know how I feel in my heart.

    I have to say this–you certainly are more grounded than anything I have read on Facebook. There are some real looney-tunes out there.

    Missing my better half all the time. He would let me speak my piece and then I would be done. Guess you get to hear it from me this time. Lucky you.

    • Sue, good to hear from you! I miss your better half, too, although I’m pretty sure you were *his* better half. 🙂

      You are right, there are some looney toons out there, and some bad, scary, evil people too. I plan to never have to shoot anybody, and so I studiously avoid places and situations where I might encounter them. But sometimes you can’t dodge the hurricane. A buddy recently sent me a funny poster. At the top it read, “Gun owners are compensating for something…” Below was a picture of a petite young woman cradling an AK, with the caption, “I am compensating for being smaller and weaker than most violent criminals.” Q.E.D. 😉

      I’m actually OK with universal background checks, although I think a lot of people will just ignore such a requirement. I sold a gun to a private citizen a couple of weeks ago, which currently does not require a background check. Actually, it felt a little weird. I’d have been perfectly happy to go to a background check counter at the gun show to do just that, if such a thing existed. (Note that 99% of gun sales at gun shows are by registered dealers, and every such transaction requires a background check.)

      I’d like to see us do a better job of keeping the crazies away from guns, but I’m concerned about the mechanics. Who decides who is and is not crazy? And for how long? If you are tagged as a crazy one time, are you branded a crazy forever? And who will watch the watchers? It seems the potential for abuse and miscarriage of justice is very high under almost any conceivable system that is more robust than what we have now.

      The bottom line is this: for the entire history of jurisprudence in this country, we have meted out justice based on people’s *actions*, not on their *thoughts*. We punish you for the evil you have done, not for the evil you *might or might not* do. Do we really want to go down that particular slippery slope? If so, we’ll have made “Minority Report” a reality, and we’ll have to rename the ATF the Department of Pre-Crime Prevention.

      • Susan Keene on said:

        I agree with you, Tracy. Nothing can be put in place that will prevent what we “think” people will do. I have learned that nothing can be done until the evil has occured, unfortunately. And true, how would you patrol that? Once again, that is not the kind of world I want to live in, where you have to be so guarded about your actions every waking moment. But, something should happen, be it background checks, however ineffective they may be, because to do nothing would be an even bigger mistake.

        My recently deceased step-father-in-law sold a gun on Craig’s List, I learned. How crazy is that?

        Keep up the dialogue. And I do detect grace among your words. 🙂

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