“weapons of war”, meme edition

WeaponsOfWar

WeaponsThatKill

And, of course, there is always the interesting topic that unless they are reservists or otherwise bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, police officers / law enforcement officers / sheriffs / etc. are civilians themselves.  Yes, there are a few “gun control” extremists who want us to pull a once-Great-Britain and disarm our police*, but by and large they have no problems with actual “weapons of war” being on our streets… so long as they are being carried by The Right People.

And lest you believe that the law enforcement officers’ training is exceptional or unachievable by the average man… well, that is simply not true.

 

(* – Of course, the Brits are realizing the error of that particular decision.  Slowly, granted, but still.)

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“weapons of war”?

Now that “gun control” is back in the national attention, the usual suspects are demanding that we, once again, pass a federal “assault weapons ban”, with one of the reasons for doing so being, “‘military-style’ ‘weapons of war’ do not belong on our streets!”

Ignore, for a second, that law enforcement agencies – at all levels – already are using actual military hardware and actual weapons of war on our streets, up to and including armored fighting vehicles.

Ignore, for a second, that basically none of the firearms prohibited under the last, failed “Assault Weapons Ban” were used by regular militaries or in wars.

Instead, allow us to ask a relatively simple question: do “gun control” extremists even know what a “weapon of war” is?

We have touched on this concept briefly before, but I think it is time for a deeper dive.  Consider the following examples:

 

1891

This is a “weapon of war”, and one of the highest sniper kill counts recorded was achieved with a rifle like this one, but it was not covered by the previous federal AWB or any state’s ban.  (Incidentally, it is also not legally considered a firearm, given this specific example was manufactured before 1899.)


 

blackhawk-axiom-r-f-stock-ruger-10-22-57

This is not a “weapon of war”, but it would have been covered by the previous AWB.  (The stock did not exist at the time, and the fact that it is a .22LR rifle is immaterial to the federal ban; after all, “gun control” extremists hate rimfire rifles.)


webley02

This is a weapon of war – quite possibly both in the UK and Israel, based on its proof marks – but was not covered by the previous AWB.


keltec-cmr-30-rifle-angled-oleg-volk

This is not a weapon of war, and would have been covered by the federal AWB.  (Once again, this particular rifle did not exist at the time, but all of the recent calls for a new “assault weapon ban” take the old law and make it even more expansive, so I feel certain this particular firearm would be included.)


3664

This is a weapon of war, and, in fact, one so terrifyingly effective that the Germans protested its use during World War 1.  However, it was not covered by the AWB.


e906a068c66ea86debacb68edee85154

This is not a weapon of war, but it was included in the ’94 ban – in fact, it was one of the specifically-named firearms.


1807

This is a weapon of war, and was once referred to as “the greatest battle implement ever developed“.  It was not subject to the “assault weapon ban”.


escort_raider_ar

This is not a weapon of war, but would have been prohibited by the AWB.


serbian-yugo-sks-762x39-surplus-rifle55

This very much is a weapon of war, and might be one of the most pervasive examples of the concept.  However, it was not banned by the federal AWB.


download

This is not a weapon of war, but would still be banned under a repeat federal AWB.


Are you starting to see a pattern?

If “gun control” extremists actually want to ban “weapons of war”… why are they not calling for actual weapons of war to be banned with their zombie “assault weapon ban”?

And if all they want to do with this rotting, shambling piece of legislation is only ban “weapons of war” – as they’ve been trying to proclaim for nearly a month now – then why is all that other stuff included in the blast radius?

Perhaps they have no idea what they are talking about.

And perhaps they are being… less than honest.

In either case, why should we take them – or their desires – seriously?

(Note:  Mosin Nagant image copyright 7.62x54r.net.  10/22 image copyright LA Police Gear.  Kel-Tec CMR image copyright Cheaper Than Dirt / Oleg Volk.  Winchester 1897 image copyright Rock Island Auction.  Intratec TEC-9 image copyright EGunner.  M1 Garand image copyright Rock Island Auction.  Hatsan Escort Raider image copyright Hatsan.  SKS image copyright Classic Firearms.  Kel-Tec SU-16E image copyright Sportsman’s Guide.)

are gun sales down under president trump?

One of the favorite tactics of the “gun control” extremists for the past eight years or so is to decry pro-rights activists as “racists”, and use the massive uptick of firearm sales during and immediately prior to Obama’s administration as “proof”.  I cannot say as though I understand that rationale myself, especially since both then-Senator and then-President Obama are on record as wanting to ban semi-automatic firearms, ban handguns, ban firearms based on aesthetic features, ban lawful carry of firearms, and so forth – you know, the kinds of things that would prompt people to purchase something before it became unavailable – but the “gun control” movement has never been big on logic.

In any case, now that Obama is no longer in office, the “gun control” extremists are using the supposedly decreased firearm sales as further “proof” of the “racist” nature of the pro-rights advocates, as well as “proof” that firearm owners are a “dying breed”, and on, and on, and on.

But are gun sales actually down?  

The answer to that question is, “Given predictable, seasonal trends, not particularly.”

First, there is no 100% reliable metric for the number of firearms sold at Federal Firearm Licensees (i.e. gun stores).  Yes, the FBI does publish the number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks performed every month, but the caveat at the bottom of that PDF is very important:

These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

For example, in North Carolina, if one has a Concealed Handgun Permit in good standing, a purchaser still has to fill out a Form 4473, but no NICS check must be performed.  Likewise, there is no limit to the number of firearms that can be purchased on a single NICS check, so one check can be one firearm, or one check can be a hundred.

All that said, most parties – both in the “gun control” camp and in the pro-rights camp – consider NICS checks to be at least an indicator of how the firearm sales market is doing.  Just bear in mind that it is not an accounting of actual sales, and does not even provide an actual floor for the numbers.

Second, how do you quantify “down”?

If one looks at the average monthly NICS checks for the past four Presidents, you will see that President Trump is actually in the lead:

AverageMonthlyNICS

But that is not a strictly fair comparison, since he has only had four months in office, while Obama had 96 (for the sake of simplicity, despite United States Presidents being inaugurated on the 20th of January, I am counting their time in office from the first of February to the 31st of January, since the data is provided on a by-month basis).

So what about the actual number of NICS checks per month?

NICSChecksByMonth

So a few things stand out on this chart.

On the one hand, firearms are apparently a very popular Christmas gift, and the NICS checks reflect this seasonal nature.

On the other hand, there has been an almost steady increase in NICS checks since 2002 – seven years before Obama took office.

On the gripping hand, yes, NICS checks did peak out at 3,314,594 in December of 2015, and, likewise, are now at 1,942,677 in May of 2017.

The problem with simply calling out those two months, however, is that it is blatant cherry-picking.  It is true that the peak checks in Obama’s presidency is higher than the lowest checks in President Trump’s time in office, but that does not even come close to telling us if the total checks are down under the new President.

For example, as I said previously, there is an obvious seasonal nature to NICS checks, with December almost invariably being “high season”, and May or June typically being the “low season”.  In fact, if one looks at the percentage drop from the peak month in one year to the low month in the following year, you will see that President Trump’s May is doing better than average, and, in fact, the second-largest seasonal drop happened during Obama’s administration:

NICSPercentageDrop

Likewise, note that this past May – likely either the low month for this year, or close to it – still had more checks than any May before it.

The fact is, firearm sales have been massively trending upwards for the past 14 years.  Given that the trend started well before an African-American President, and given that the President in question was adamantly and openly anti-rights,  the allegations of “racism” are about as valid as trying to claim that firearm sales are “down” based on all of four months of data.

That is to say, not at all valid.

(Note:  This is not to say that firearm sales are not going to drop during President Trump’s term(s), just that claiming that they are “down” already is incorrect at the time of this post.  Someone else is more than welcome to try to do predictive analytics on the numbers (*.xlsx file), but seasonal averages with an underlying trend are a pain in the ass, and I am not willing to undertake that at this time.)

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 1

Do you what the difference is between this rifle:

RugerMini14

… and this rifle:

RugerMini14Tac

I will give you a few hints to make it easier:

Both are made by Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc.

Both will happily shoot either .223 Remington or 5.56x45mm NATO.

Both are semi-automatic and gas-operated with locking breech bolts and a self-cleaning gas cylinder.

Both will shoot as fast as you can pull the trigger, one round at a time.

Both accept removable magazines ranging from five rounds to 100 rounds.

Both have cold hammer-forged barrels for increased accuracy and longevity.

Both are configured to accept magnifying optics and have ghost-ring sights if you choose to stick with iron sights.

Both are set up to accept slings.

In other words, I have a confession to make:  there is no functional difference between the two rifles.  

Yes, one is configured to be more ergonomic for the end user, what with the adjustable butt stock and the flash hider to mitigate the flash of the round being fired beneath the sights/optic.  However, the top rifle can almost entirely be transformed into the bottom rifle so long as you have a small screwdriver and the “tactical” stock (even the flash hider can be added without having to thread the barrel).

That is all you need.

But the top rifle would have been legal under the failed Federal Assault Weapons Ban, and under the current California Assault Weapons Control Act, while the bottom rifle was not and is not.

Even better?  The top rifle’s barrel is about two inches longer, giving it about 50-100 feet-per-second more velocity at the muzzle.  So, arguably, it is the more-powerful of the two rifle… but it is the AWB-approved one.

When the features that were banned under the “Assault Weapon Ban” have no actual impact on the operation of the firearm, and when that ban can be circumvented by a single screwdriver, just what was its point?

Assault Weapon

(For reference, the top rifle is a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, and the bottom is a Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rifle.  Both images were borrowed from Ruger.)