the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 3

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 3

Once again, I will have some pictures for you to consider, but first a little backstory.

One of the favorite arguments of those who support “assault weapon bans” is that a purpose/goal of the prohibitions is to keep “military” or “military-style” firearms out of the hands of private citizens.

Ignore, for a moment, that at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification, every long arm, short arm, or other firearm-like device was both “military” and in the hands of private citizens.  Likewise, ignore that the Second Amendment was written to preserve exactly that kind of arrangement.

And, finally, ignore the entire concept of “military-style” – after all, how does the physical appearance of a device affect its actual performance?  After all, this looks a lot like this, but I guarantee you they are radically different (the first is an airsoft device, to begin with).

So, the remaining question is “Do ‘assault weapon bans’ actually keep military hardware out of the hands of American citizens?”

Well, here are your three firearms for consideration:







And your first question: which of these are “military firearms”?

If you answered anything but “B”, I hate to break it to you, but you are wrong.

A is not legally considered a firearm, considering that it is a first-generation Mosin-Nagant Model 1891, and was thus produced before 1899.  Even if the firearm-looking device is an exact duplicate of a firearm still currently being made and using still-available ammunition, if that specific firearm-looking device left an assembly line before 1899, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms considers it to be an “antique”.

Granted, Mosins are not still being produced, but the Model 1891 featured above does chamber still-commercially-produced 7.62x54r ammunition.  However, thanks to its “antique” designation, it can be mail-ordered without involving a Federal Firearm Licensee – after all, it is not a firearm.

Firearm or not, it is almost a guarantee that the entirety of the first generation of Mosins saw service in the Soviet Union at some point, simply because between 1891 and now that country has been involved in almost non-stop conflicts, both external and internal.

B is a Finnish M91 produced between 1926 and 1927, and it almost unquestionably was a military firearm, courtesy of that country’s incessant border disputes with Russia, and that whole unpleasantness in the 1940s.

C is an AR-15 I purchased a few years back as a bare receiver and built up, and has never seen a day of military service in its short life.  Further, the AR-15 platform is used by basically no military, simply because those militaries can and do avail themselves of the significantly more capable M-16 and M4 platforms.

Now, the fun question: which of those firearms is subject to “assault weapon bans”?

If you have read the first two posts of this series, you probably already know the answer; the only firearm above subject to “assault weapon bans” is C.

The other two are actual military weapons that very likely were used by military personnel to kill other human beings, but it is the firearm that was never used by a military, from a model of firearm that was basically never used by the military, that people are so very concerned with.  If one wants to get truly specific, the combination of the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act already make it functionally impossible for American citizens to procure most of even the types of firearms being used by militaries today, much less the actual, specific hardware.  But old military hardware?  90% of it, or more, is available for the purchasing, and some of it does not even require background checks, per the BATFE themselves.

So, no, “assault weapon bans” have absolutely nothing to do with the military heritage – or lack thereof, in almost all cases – of the firearms being banned.  Unfortunately, like so many of these talking points, that particular one is not likely to be dissuaded by facts.

(Mosin-Nagant images borrowed from’s outstanding Mosin Identification page.)

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 2

This time, I will go ahead and be forthright about the two firearms I want you to consider.

This is a Springfield Armory M1A SOCOM II that I purchased a number of years ago.  You will have to forgive the lacking quality of the photo – it turns out I sold it before I took any good pictures of it.


And this is an AR-15 that I half-built, half-bought.  Again, you will have to forgive the truly derp-tastic stock that is on it presently – it did not last long, and it has a much better stock presently, I am just bad about taking pictures apparently.


Now here is the important part:

Both firearms are semi-automatic, magazine-fed rifles; i.e. both will shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger, and both can accept magazines up to 100 rounds (though I cannot imagine carrying the M1A at that point).  However, the M1A shoots a larger, heavier bullet that has, on average, double the muzzle energy of the bullet shot by the AR-15 and somewhere around double the maximum range.

So here is this post’s test: one of these firearms is currently banned by the California Assault Weapon Control Act, and one of them is not.  Which is banned?

If you answered “the more powerful rifle”, you would be wrong.

That M1A was, ironically, purchased in California – I even still have a picture of the receipt –  after I discovered that coming by AR-15s there would be… challenging.  At that point, I figured I might as well go with the more-powerful, more-capable rifle, simply to drive home the point that the state’s “assault weapon ban” was precisely useless.

As the previous post indicated, the entire notion of “assault weapon bans” is flawed to begin with since it literally prohibits one configuration of a rifle, but allows another configuration of the exact same rifle.  Once you realize that those bans allow firearms that work in almost the same way* but are significantly more powerful than their banned brethren?

Well, then it becomes painfully apparent that the purpose of the bans is not “safety”.

(* – Both firearms are gas-operated; the AR-15 uses direct impingement while the M1A uses a short-stroke piston system.  Both are still semi-automatic, but the two operating systems are just different ways of employing the gasses from the discharging round to cycle the actions.)

what is “high-powered”?

what is “high-powered”?

One of the favorite tactics of “gun control” organizations when demonizing AR-15s, AK-47-pattern rifles, and other “assault weapons”* is to decry them as being “high-powered” rifles unsuitable for civilian use.

As with so many things those organizations proclaim, that is simply not true.

The following graphic was built with numbers provided by the respective calibers’ Wikipedia pages, with the exception of 12 gauge, where the numbers came from Winchester Ammunition‘s line of 1 ounce slugs.  These numbers should be considered approximate averages, given the differences generated by barrel lengths, powder loading, bullet weight, and so forth, but the data will be sufficient for the point I am making.


It is worth noting that the .223 / 5.56 were developed in 1963, the 7.62×39 in 1944, the .30-06 in 1906, the 7mm Remington Magnum in 1962, and the .300 Winchester Magnum in 1963.  It is difficult to truly date the 12 gauge caliber, but the concept of a shotgun has been around since at least 1728.

It is also worth noting that the AR-15, by dint of its modular nature, can support a wide variety of other calibers; however, even the most energetic (.50 Beowulf, I believe) still falls a few hundred foot-pounds short of the venerable .30-06.  Additionally, it is the niche product of a niche market; in other words, you are unlikely to see one, ever.

So, no, neither AR-15s nor AK-pattern rifles nor pretty much any other form of “assault weapons” could be considered “high-powered” rifles when compared against the rifles that millions of American hunters take into the forests every year, many of which are chambered in calibers developed decades before the AR/AK’s.

As usual, if the “gun control” organizations did not lie, they would have nothing to say.

(* – The arbitrary, capricious, and ultimately meaningless definition of “assault weapon” will be addressed in a later post.)