February 12, 2013
By Mark Almonte
The two strongest reasons for civilians to own assault weapons are self-defense and defense against tyranny.
self-defense situation that comes to mind is the L.A. riots. Who can
forget the nightly news's live footage of thugs hurling rocks at passing
cars, buildings on fire, and looters smashing storefront windows?
Then there was the savage beating of truck driver Reginald Denny.
What was stunningly absent from the video footage? There were no police or fire personnel.
According to the Los Angeles Times,
police were ordered to stay out of the area for three hours. Numerous
911 calls for assault, murder, and fire-bombings went unanswered. But
as the violence raged, one group of citizens refused to be victims --
the Korean storeowners.
The Los Angeles Times
reported that Richard Rhee had a group on the rooftop of his store
armed with shotguns and assault rifles. They scared off carloads of
rioters by firing shots in the air. Rhee and his group watched a
mini-mart a half-block away burn to the ground. "Jay Rhee ... and other
employees at a mini-mall at Santa Monica and Vermont ... fought a
back-and-fourth battle with several hundred looters who surged into the
Over fifty people died during the riots. Twenty-three homicides remain unsolved.
The business owners and the homicide victims relied on the police to
respond. For many, the response never came. When there's no law and
order -- only chaos -- that's when civilians need assault weapons.
armed Korean storeowners successfully defended themselves because
assault rifles are the pre-eminent self-defense weapons. Assault rifles
look and sound intimidating. When you fire a 9mm handgun, it makes a
popping noise. When you fire an AK-47, it sounds like thunder. Most
assault rifles were designed to be effective up to 400 meters.
Most handguns are accurate only up to about twenty-five yards. Rifle
rounds have twice the velocity and four times the muzzle energy of
handgun rounds. Their accuracy and power make assault rifles very
effective against multiple attackers. In a riot situation, an assault
rifle levels the playing field.
A second self-defense situation to consider is defending against a home invasion. In Cheshire, Connecticut,
the suspects in a home invasion raped two of the female victims and
then murdered the entire family. The dad was the only survivor.
In 2011, in Houston, Texas,
there was a rash of home invasions by masked teams of attackers armed
with guns. The attacks resulted in three victims being shot to death.
invasions, in the public definition, generally involve more than one
attacker. Two facts can't be ignored: one, assault rifles are the best
weapon against multiple attackers, and two, eight
minutes is the average police response time for life-threatening calls
in medium-size cities. A lot can happen in eight minutes.
In Harris County, Texas,
a fifteen-year-old boy was home alone with his twelve-year-old sister
when two burglars broke into the house. The young boy got his father's
assault rifle and shot one of the burglars. The boy and his sister were
unharmed, and the burglars were apprehended. Assault rifles can take
lives, but as shown in this case, they can also save lives.
is a less relevant yet nonetheless interesting self-defense reason for
owning an assault weapon: defense of country. One of the reasons that
the Nazis did not invade Switzerland was the fact that every Swiss man
had a rifle. According to scholar Stephen Halbrook,
"... we have no better record than the Nazi invasion plans, which
stated that, because of the Swiss shooting skills, Switzerland would be
difficult to conquer and pacify." Collectively defending a nation from
invasion is the ultimate form of self-defense. The Swiss have a high gun ownership rate, but the U.S. has the highest in the world.
Founding Fathers gave us the most profound justification for civilians
owning assault rifles: protection from tyranny. Many people believe
that the United States could never become despotic, but it is not
implausible for a democracy to turn tyrannical. In 1925, Italy
went from a parliamentary democracy to a dictatorship under Mussolini.
In 1933, Germany went from a parliamentary democracy to a totalitarian
regime under Hitler. In 1939, Spain went from a republic to a dictatorship under Franco. As Ronald Reagan once said, "[f]reedom is never more than one generation away from extinction."
Once tyranny usurps power over the people, unconscionable brutality soon becomes the norm. In 1938, Hitler
banned Jews from possessing firearms. Shortly thereafter, weapons were
confiscated, followed by genocide of the Jewish population. Six million Jews were killed throughout Europe and the Soviet area. In 1915, the Ottoman Empire put forth a decree disarming all Armenians. Shortly thereafter, weapons were confiscated, followed by genocide of the Armenian population. Approximately one million
were killed. In 1918, the Soviet Union introduced firearm registration
followed by confiscation. Communist Party members were exempt from the
confiscation order. From 1929 to 1945, Stalin committed genocide
against "Kulaks" and Communist dissidents. An estimated twenty million were killed. For additional reading, see Lethal Laws or Gun Control: Gateway to Tyranny.
weapons are necessary for defense against tyranny because they are the
weapons of the common soldier -- just as the flintlock musket was during
the Revolutionary War era. In Federalist
#46, one of our Founding Fathers, James Madison, argued for an armed
citizenry. At the time, there was a fear that if the United States had a
standing army, it could one day be used against American citizens.
Madison believed that a United States standing army would consist of no
more than "twenty-five or thirty thousand men." If the citizens were
armed, they would consist of a militia of almost "half a million
citizens." He argued that it was doubtful that a standing army of
thirty thousand could conquer a half million armed citizens. Surely the
Founding Fathers didn't expect the citizens to arm themselves with
sticks. To repel a standing army, the citizens must possess the weapon
of the common soldier. Today, the common soldier's weapon is an assault
Critics mock the tyranny argument as silly and outdated, but a new Rasmussen poll shows that 65 percent of Americans believe that the Second Amendment's purpose is to protect them from tyranny.
Tyranny doesn't announce itself by wearing a sign. Tyranny can start as a homeless painter exploiting social frustrations like Hitler or a newspaper journalist promising unity like Mussolini. The cost of tyranny is high.
It's your freedom. Having an assault rifle tells a despot that the cost to take your freedom will also be high.
Civilian-owned assault rifles could defend against rioters or a home invasion, or provide the last barrier in a long list of checks and balances
to prevent tyranny. Assault rifles can mean the difference between
life and death, between liberty and tyranny. In the hands of
law-abiding citizens, assault rifles are a symbol of self-reliance.
It's an American value that has defined this country and made it great.