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The Argument that Wins the ‘Assault Weapon’ Debate

Saturday, February 2, 2013

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The first step is to challenge the other side with a very simple question: “Do you believe that all human beings have a natural and inherent right to defend themselves from violent attack?” Even people like Barack Obama, Andrew Cuomo, and Dianne Feinstein will not dare to answer in the negative. They will, however, demur that nobody needs an “assault weapon” to exercise this right. Cuomo said quite correctly that nobody needs ten bullets to kill a deer, but he knows full well that the Second Amendment is not about shooting deer. The question, and the other side must not be allowed to evade it or equivocate, is “How many bullets might a person reasonably need to stop one or more violent specimens of the most dangerous animal on earth?”

Police departments apparently believe the answer to be 13 to 17 rounds of 9 millimeter, as shown by their use of Glocks with these magazine capacities. A .45 caliber sidearm has far more stopping power, so seven rounds (the maximum now allowed by New York) may be adequate to end a life or death confrontation that somebody else starts. Most women, however, along with small men, find the 9 millimeter’s lesser recoil far easier to handle. New York’s Legislature and governor therefore seem to think that the right of effective self-defense should be reserved for healthy and fit men, as opposed to women and senior citizens.

When it comes to rifles, police departments believe the answer to be no less than 30 rounds of .223, as shown by their deployment of AR-15s. The only difference between a police officer and a private citizen is that the former has the authority and duty to intervene in situations that the ordinary citizen should, or even must, avoid. If either needs a firearm for any non-sporting purpose, though, he or she needs it for exactly the same reason. The definition of a weapon that is “reasonable” for legitimate self-defense is therefore, “Any weapon that is routinely available to law enforcement agencies.”

I tried this on a talk show host who supports the proposed “assault weapon” ban, and he had no viable answer. Neither will anybody else against whom we deploy it in letters to the editor, talk radio, the Internet, and other media.

William A. Levinson, P.E. is the author of several books on business management including content on organizational psychology, as well as manufacturing productivity and quality.

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