Baboon Pirates

Scribbles and Scrawls from an unrepentant swashbuckling primate.

My Photo
Location: Texas, United States

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

2nd Amendment Conundrum

How Much Is Too Much?

I've been a pretty fierce 2nd Amendment supporter for a long, long time. I've been interested in firearms since I was a grade-schooler, and would often arrive home with a huge stack of library books on WWII armaments, and mowed plenty of lawns to raise money to pay off the overdue fees when I’d forget to return them on time. I blazed my way through high school speech & debate tourneys with my fiery (but *way* too emotional) persuasive speech on gun rights, winning no awards, but probably seriously alarming the judges. I can only imagine what horrible fate befalls the kids who've tried that topic in the post-Columbine era.

I'll stand up to anyone on the issue, often seriously derailing some hoplophobe's arguments when I catch them pontificating with facts they've extracted from their posterior. Since I'm generally known at work and in my social circle as a pretty easygoing guy with a decent intellect, most anti-gunners are hesitant to try to stick the 'violent ignorant redneck' label on me, making it easier for me to sway opinions through facts & logic.

I'm proud of the times I've taken non-shooters out to the range, and let them find out for themselves that those "eeeevil hanguns" are actually kind of fun, and not likely to jump off of the range bench and start randomly killing people all by themselves.

The one debate on the 2nd Amendment that I got sorely whipped up on, though, was one where the other side was even more adamant on the right to keep and bear arms than I was.

The conversation started off easily enough. Rockhauler & I were discussing the AWB sunset, and the attendant splash that had made in the blogosphere. I mentioned that I would be attending the upcoming gun show, looking specifically for high-capacity pistol magazines, and for lower prices on some "eeevil black guns". Naturally, the conversation turned to our common desire for belt-fed armaments (in my case, just 'cause I hate to reload after 20-30 rounds) and then onward to bigger weapons. Somewhere along the line we got around to discussing the magnificent 16" rifles that grace the (sadly) decommissioned Iowa Class battleships.

Rockhauler wanted to own one. I scoffed a bit, asking "Where would you store it, or shoot it?" He replied that that was not the point. If he could swing the coin for the purchase, he ought to be able to own one, in full workable condition, not a dewat or disabled piece. After all, it’s not like he could conceal it. The ATF is gonna know exactly where it is at all times.

I thought about it for a moment, but in spite of my rabid 2nd Amendment stance, just balked at the concept of a private citizen owning a firearm that threw 2700 lb projectiles 24 miles. Yeah, it’s one hell of a conversation piece, but there’s really no point to owning it. This is where my innate pragmatism interferes with my rationalization. I have no use whatsoever for gigantimous pistols like the Desert Eagle, or Smith & Wesson’s new .500 Magnum. I just can’t see the point in owning them. You’d be better off with a carbine or rifle if you need to launch a round that big, and you’ll get better velocity and accuracy as a bonus. I made this point known on rec.guns newsgroup, and got vilified for it. Apparently my lack of use for these handcannons translated into “I don’t think you should own them”. Nothing could be further from the truth. If carrying around a 5 pound revolver on a shoulder strap trips your hammer, be my guest. I’ll just quietly assume you’re compensating for some shortcoming.

The 133-ton rifles off an Iowa Class battleship fall into the same category for me. While I don’t doubt there are those who could set up a firing range for them, I just don’t see the point. If you want a big bang, a truckload of dynamite or ANFO is much cheaper, and you don’t need 26 miles to the nearest fenceline to shoot it off. I digress... back to the discussion:

“Nope,” I told Rockhauler, “there’s just no way you need to have that kind of firepower.” His answer? “Need’s got nothing to do with it,” to which I had to agree in principle. I don’t “need” my Ruger Vaquero. I already have a .45 ACP caliber 1911A1 clone that’s more efficient, accurate and cheaper to shoot than the .45 LC sixgun. Still, the Vaquero’s a hell of a lot of fun, and I’d be really pissed to have to give it up if someone decided I didn’t “need it”.

Rockhauler then asked me, “OK, what’s your cutoff limit then? How about machine guns?”

No problems there. If you can afford the price of the gun and the ammo for it, go for it. Ditto for .50 cal sniper rifles, Napoleon fieldpieces and even miniguns.

I finally reached my comfort limit when he started into various types of explosives. I just have a hard time seeing where anyone outside of a standing army would need an RPG. Sure, they’d be a blast to shoot. I’d love to be able to go to an RPG range, take aim at an old Toyota and blow it to hell. OTOH, knowing one of my neighbors has a couple of RPGs stashed in his closet might give me pause. How do you have an argument with the guy over property lines and not fret that he’ll take out your entire kitchen one morning? What about the guy that wants to build a Civil War torpedo, with 200 lbs. of black powder crammed into a wooden barrel? Or the guy that scrapes off the radium from 3000 watch dials and makes a mini-nuke? What’s the limit gonna be?

Now, the anti-gunners say the same thing about my handguns. I’m aware of this. I’m also aware that logically, I’m backing myself into a corner. After all, if my reservations about someone owning a rocket or grenade launcher are valid, then my wussy neighbor that pisses himself at the sight of an uncased shotgun ought to have a point too, right? I could fall back on the “legitimate sporting purpose” meme, but that’s a rocky path. Who gets to decide what’s legitimate? Certainly not the gun-grabbers, as long as I’m drawing breath!

I don’t know that there’s an easy answer for this one. For the control freaks that want to see the entire world foam-padded and run by the “qualified”, they’re not gonna be happy until anything remotely dangerous (and by extension, fun!) are done away with completely. For the anarcho-libertarians, life is untolerably repressive if we can’t own several cases of hand grenades and have a 5” naval gun mounted on the back deck. We’re going to have to meet somewhere in the middle.

From my POV, I think I’ll have to go with destructive devices as the cutoff point. There’s no doubt that there are plenty of well-balanced law-abiding citizens out there capable of owning such things, but the liability to the public just gets too great if a trunkload of 40 mm grenades and a launcher goes missing. I’d love to have a claymore mine pointed towards the skeezy apartment complex north of the house, in case the assholes who broke into my neighbor’s house try to jump the fence again, but I can’t guarantee that the kid across the street won’t set it off with the frequency from his radio-controlled car. There’s just a comfort limit that I have when it comes to high explosives in the hands of the public at large.

Where’s your cutoff point, or is there one?