Excessiveness and Perception


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Wes Janson
September 16, 2008, 03:52 PM
Yesterday I was discussing rifles with an acquaintance, and we got into an debate over what constitutes "overkill" in the sense of a weapon that's simple excessive and has no purpose or value in ownership. Particularly, the conversation hinged on his insistence that he didn't see any purpose in owning a .50 BMG rifle, as they are "too powerful" and "have no use". I pointed out that the exact same argument applied to his favorite .500 S&W Magnum, and he agreed on principle, while disagreeing on emotional grounds (perception). It was my distinct feeling that were he to shoot a .50 BMG, he would change his mind and come to understand that it represents simply another form of fun to have at the range, but that until he does so he won't understand.

It seems to me that everyone out there has a differing opinion on what really is "excessive" to own, use, or even seek to own. On the one end of the scale are those who feel that BB guns are morally reprehensible inventions that should be outlawed (Won't someone please think of the squirrels?!), while on the other end there exists a small cadre of shooters who would quite definitely seek to enjoy civilian ownership of tactical fission warheads were it so possible.

At risk of passing premature judgment, the common theme in every case seems to be one of ignorance. Most of the anti-gunners who would consider a Ruger 10/22 to be an automatic assault weapon have absolutely no fundamental knowledge of what a gun is or how it works. Likewise your Fudds have never really owned or operated anything like an AR-15 or an SKS, and fail to grasp the essential purpose and capabilities of each. Then you get to the group that maybe has a few handguns, an AK or two, maybe an M1A, and looks towards the Barrett as being some sort of mythical superpowered sniper rifle capable of "shooting through schools", without understanding their ballistics, capabilities, or costs. And the guy with the Barrett looks at the 20mm Solothurn owner as being crazy...

All of them have in common the exact same arguments from emotion, which are themselves rooted in their own perceived understanding of the object at hand. In the end, it all comes down to inaccurate perceptions, many of them shaped by movies and television, combined with a genuine lack of education and hands-on experience. The only real way to combat those perceptions is to take someone out and let them develop their own opinions, for themselves, based off of their own real-world observations. Likewise, we ourselves should consider and remember our own limitations of experience, and make allowance for the fact that our perceived understanding of things may in fact be quite wrong.

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Loosedhorse
September 16, 2008, 04:30 PM
One of the problem's we've got to face with gun rights is the Q: how huch gun is too much to have a "right" to. You say .50 BMG is okay, well and fine; but why can't I set up a mortar or grenade launching range, or a 105mm recoilless rifle--it's just another form of fun!

Around WWI, we began to get a sense that some arms (whether they were practical, belt-fed machine guns or mustard gas) were "too much." And that other innovations (suppressors, short-barrelled shotguns, AOWs) might make it more difficult to find out and hold to account someone who was criminally misusing firearms.

I think a lot of what is currently allowed/not allowed is non-sensical (old machineguns good, new machineguns bad), and has just accrued over time. I'm personally for EXPANDING what we can all have (after all, full-auto is the fastest way to turn money into noise, and that's FUN!).

But when you get right down to it the laws are arbitrary lines in the sand. If you believe (and I do) that anything a modern "militia-man" would find useful to defend against government over-reaching tyranny is what's protected by the 2A, then where are the hand-grenades and full-autos? In fact, where's my tank?

Unfortunately, current law only recognizes two "purposes" for firearms: "sporting purposes" to be defined however the gov't chooses, and self-defense in the home, thanks to DC in Heller. Everything else is matter of opinion--and eventually law.

Heller seemed to affirm that the gov't has a legitimate interest via "public safety" to place restrictions on arms. So, for your friend and for everyone, the argument will have to be that the .50 BMG fills a "sporting purpose," without posing a significant threat to public safety.

Until they start knocking over bodegas or shooting jet-liners out of the sky with .50 BMG, we can argue that however "theorectically" hazardous to the public safety such a round is, it has no demonstrated danger.

And it's important we defend the .50, because this is classic "once slice at a time" banning: once .50 BMG goes away (as in New York) next target is ALL "long-range sniper rifles."

General Geoff
September 16, 2008, 04:41 PM
Is a 1,000hp car excessive? Absolutely. Should all 1,000+hp cars be banned? Absolutely not.

And I'd be willing to bet that 1,000+hp cars have killed more folks in the United States than .50BMGs have.

Wes Janson
September 16, 2008, 08:29 PM
You say .50 BMG is okay, well and fine; but why can't I set up a mortar or grenade launching range, or a 105mm recoilless rifle--it's just another form of fun!

Precisely my point: as a matter of fact, you can. Most people simply don't know this fact, nor know that such things can be owned. If I had a dollar for every time I heard the words "I thought silencers were illegal", I could buy a new Gemtech. On this note, it occurs to me to wonder why so many people are unaware that most all weapons are ultimately still legal. People just seem to assume that everything is illegal, but I'm not quite sure why that is.

Unfortunately, current law only recognizes two "purposes" for firearms: "sporting purposes" to be defined however the gov't chooses, and self-defense in the home, thanks to DC in Heller. Everything else is matter of opinion--and eventually law.

Find me the words "sporting purposes" in the Second Amendment. Even Heller halfways admits that the ultimate purpose of the whole Amendment is to resist tyranny. Although they then go on to add that "reasonable regulations" are permitted (another phrase oddly missing from the Bill of Rights).

But when you get right down to it the laws are arbitrary lines in the sand. If you believe (and I do) that anything a modern "militia-man" would find useful to defend against government over-reaching tyranny is what's protected by the 2A, then where are the hand-grenades and full-autos? In fact, where's my tank?

For hand grenades, submit a Form 1 to the ATF. For tanks, just bring your checkbook. There is indeed a decent amount of field artillery in civilian hands, it's just rather expensive. Currently the only real burden on ownership is the cost, both of the weapons and of the ammo.

Heller seemed to affirm that the gov't has a legitimate interest via "public safety" to place restrictions on arms. So, for your friend and for everyone, the argument will have to be that the .50 BMG fills a "sporting purpose," without posing a significant threat to public safety.

No, no, a thousand times no. There is not, has not been, and hopefully never shall be a "sporting purposes" test on firearm ownership in this country. They've snuck it in for foreign arms, and individual states have already begun trying to erode away at it further, but the Second Amendment has nothing to do with "sporting purposes". If the day comes where that's all we're left with, then we might as well throw the whole thing away, because the game is over and the Second is gone.

Do not give in to the other side's propaganda. "A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."



And I'd be willing to bet that 1,000+hp cars have killed more folks in the United States than .50BMGs have.

For that matter, outside of military training accidents, I have to wonder if anyone can come up with any cases in which someone's been killed by a .50 BMG in the United States (due to accident or criminal activity). To the best of my knowledge, it's never happened.

jonmerritt
September 16, 2008, 09:33 PM
Do I want a .50 Bmg ? No. Do you want or have one? COOL! Just because I don't like or want it, why shoud anybody else be kept from it?

Loosedhorse
September 17, 2008, 11:35 AM
where some of us live:

Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 269: Section 10A. Selling, giving or using silencers; confiscation and destruction


Section 10A. Any person, other than a federally licensed firearms manufacturer, an authorized agent of the municipal police training committee, or a duly authorized sworn law enforcement officer while acting within the scope of official duties and under the direct authorization of the police chief or his designee, or the colonel of the state police, who sells or keeps for sale, or offers, or gives or disposes of by any means other than submitting to an authorized law enforcement agency, or uses or possesses any instrument, attachment, weapon or appliance for causing the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm to be silent or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol or other firearm shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than five years in state prison...

Similarly, that ATF form 1 for hand-grenades (I assume you're right, but I don't remember the hand-grenade check-box) requires the CLEO signature--and that's not likely around here.

Also, for many of us, the "cost" obstacle of a (say) full-auto M16 or MP5 constitutes a de facto ban, when you have pre-86s selling for 10 times (and more) what a new one costs a police dept. So they're legal--so long as you've got enough money to pay a 900% or so mark-up, that is caused SOLELY by federal law reducing available supply. Would a similar mark-up on all arms and ammo be acceptable? (We also have apparently some "grandfathered" suppressors here in Mass--though the statute doesn't seem to make room for them--for a similar mark-up).

And on what form do I register the mustard gas shells? :) Or is that one arm that's really, truly illegal--and should it be?

LaEscopeta
September 17, 2008, 11:38 AM
...debate over what constitutes "overkill"... Rule 6; There is no overkill, only "open fire" and "reload."

You will now be returned to your important, well reasoned and insightfull thread...

Picard
September 17, 2008, 11:46 AM
Anything that an individual U.S. soldier carries on his person should be legal and allowed. I mean, isn't that the definition of arms? Yes, that includes suppressors, body armor, grenades, etc.

You guys may feel that grenades are excessive, but, realistically, explosives are very easily manufactured yet people rarely use them for crimes.

NG VI
September 17, 2008, 11:55 AM
It seems to me that everyone out there has a differing opinion on what really is "excessive" to own, use, or even seek to own. On the one end of the scale are those who feel that BB guns are morally reprehensible inventions that should be outlawed (Won't someone please think of the squirrels?!), while on the other end there exists a small cadre of shooters who would quite definitely seek to enjoy civilian ownership of tactical fission warheads were it so possible.

Except that the group of people who want ALL forms of weaponry, regardless of what it is, outlawed vastly outweigh even the almost statistically significant group of gun owners who want machine guns to be treated as all other guns. And they are treated with respect when their mouthpieces make it onto a public forum, for some reason.



And the guy with the Barrett looks at the 20mm Solothurn owner as being crazy...



You mean looks at him with jealousy...

TexasRifleman
September 17, 2008, 12:45 PM
As soon as you let them drag you into a 'needs' discussion they win.

BruceRDucer
September 17, 2008, 01:37 PM
Wes Johnson:

Good topic.

If you lose the argument, just remember, I would be happy to have your .50 BMG......of course, only to use as a visual aid to illustrate the absurdity of overkill.....HONEST! After all, why would anybody ever want an effective weapon? :scrutiny::scrutiny::scrutiny::scrutiny::uhoh::uhoh::uhoh::uhoh::what::what::what:

Loosedhorse
September 17, 2008, 03:11 PM
You guys may feel that grenades are excessive, but, realistically, explosives are very easily manufactured yet people rarely use them for crimes.

Picard, I think that means you haven't seen the recent Batman movie, Dark Knight--hand grenades and explosives are big-time useful for crime, and used A LOT there. :what:

As we already know (with ceramic undetectable guns from In the Line of Fire and "assault weapon" drive-bys from Boyz in the Hood) it's often Hollywood fantasy and not reality that drives perception and law-making.

Yes, I agree with your idea that infantryman arms "should" be legal--but that's not where we are. I don't think the "should" will get us there.

So, re the question of how to keep .50s from being "perceived" as excessive: good sporting fun and no demonstrated public safety threat. And please keep it out of Hollywood.

(If you want to push the .50 BMG rifle as a "militia-useful" weapon "in common use" after Miller and Heller, fine, and I agree--but that might not change its perception).

gripper
September 17, 2008, 03:35 PM
If I am legal to own it, and I can afford it; than it is not only not excessive;it is no one else's business(unless they are interested in acquiring the same!)

hardwarehacker
September 17, 2008, 03:43 PM
Ignoring the politics and constitutional issues, let's look at the words. Overkill in most contexts means a bigger hammer than you need for some specific job. That doesn't mean you shouldn't have a bigger one in your toolkit for other jobs. A very context dependent term.

The vast majority of 'jobs' which most people will ever take on with a firearm can be handled nicely with average handguns and light rifles. 'Assault guns' are appropriate for worst-case home defense, and certainly fun. A .50 BMG is definitely over-KILL for any creature on this continent. What's the bag limit on 18-wheelers? I can't think of many 'jobs' for which a .50BMG is a necessary tool, but if someone likes having their shoulder massaged now and then I can see calling that an adequate reason to have one.

I do have some practical hesitation about letting anyone with the bucks buy full auto weapons and destructive devices. We have plenty of crazy teenage boys on the streets who are dangerous enough with their toy cars. They would pony up whatever it cost to be heavily armed, just for the status of being the 'baddest' in town. Every one of them would absolutely NEED whatever the others had, just like with boombox sound systems and fancy wheels. Wouldn't be bad if they were good shots and only went after each other, but I wouldn't want to count on that.

Joey_the_Wolf
September 17, 2008, 03:46 PM
Posts number 3 and 4 pretty much summed up everything I planned on saying here. I would, however, like to add this picture to this conversation, which also neatly sums up my thoughts:

:)


http://img504.imageshack.us/img504/3161/overkilllg5.jpg

MagnumDweeb
September 17, 2008, 03:58 PM
Ah a topic I had been wondering myself due to a few recent and not so recent conversations. One of my favorite memories was when a friend of mine mentioned to a stranger, for absolutely no reason, that I carried a snub nose .357 Magnum. The person got a shocked look on their face not only that I carried a gun but also the fact that it was !!!.357 MAGNUM!!! and of course the whole "wasn't that Dirty Harry's gun" and all that came with it.

I then proceeded to explain that the .357 was just a .38 special lengthened to hold more gunpowder and that out of a barrel so short as my snubby 2", even the full magnum loads wouldn't achieve much greater ballistics than that of a 9mm out of a full service semi-automatic. That quelled their anxiety a little and I explained my reasons for carrying and maybe fudged how so little of gun like my snub .357 wasn't really a great manstopper and certainly I couldn't carry on any great campaign of violence. Later I put a scare into my former friend about having him mentioning the fact that I carry, if I want someone to know I'll tell them.

Of course I've recieved odd questions about my .44 Magnum enjoyment, especially my little Redhawk 4", and I then explain and fudge a little about how I carry and practice with rounds that are maximized for 'urban environmemts' (always gets the non-gunnies) that offer little danger to surrounding folk so as to avoid collateral damage. Also I try to get them to understand the myths of one-shot stops associated with large caliber handgun rounds. Oh if I could open carry and justly afford the ammo to properly practice I'd have a nice S&W .460 riding on my hip when I went out. The .500 magnum while cool as heck, is just not something I can justify buying especially when I don't hunt. The .460 I can rationalize as a gun I can fire 45LC, .454 Casull, and .460 Magnum for versatility.

Being a gun owner is like volunteering to be in PR nowadays, the more folk we turn onto gun ownership and keep from having anxieties and mistrusts of gun owners, the stronger we stand against the Antis.

Picard
September 17, 2008, 05:03 PM
I do have some practical hesitation about letting anyone with the bucks buy full auto weapons and destructive devices. We have plenty of crazy teenage boys on the streets who are dangerous enough with their toy cars. They would pony up whatever it cost to be heavily armed, just for the status of being the 'baddest' in town. Every one of them would absolutely NEED whatever the others had, just like with boombox sound systems and fancy wheels. Wouldn't be bad if they were good shots and only went after each other, but I wouldn't want to count on that.

Wow, same argument used by anti's to ban guns: Grenades and other "forbidden" objects will turn those teenagers into monsters, no doubt. We have to think of the children...

I just had one question, I wonder why they're not doing that already with "assault weapons" that they can currently purchase? I take it that we're talking about 18+ year-olds here.

yokel
September 17, 2008, 06:41 PM
Misrepresentation of the facts can spill over into common use or street vernacular that hides the reality to the point of ridicule. Amongst the terms related to nuclear weapons and nuclear power that have entered our everday language:

Overkill

Nuclear terminology describing the excessive force of a nuclear explosion, for example that a nuclear bomb not only destroys but over-kills, it carries more force than is required for total destruction. Now the word is synonymous with anything thought to be excessive, as in: that homework assignment was overkill.

Private .50 BMG gun owners are essentially hobbyists, sportsmen, collectors, and recreationists.

crotalus01
September 17, 2008, 07:07 PM
1st of all, Dirty Harry carried a .44 Magnum not a .357.
Second, anything the military issues to a soldier, be they regular infantry or special forces, a civilian of the United States should be legally allowed to buy at a gun store. Period. That is the only way the Second Ammemndment is effective in the way the the Founders intended it to be.

frankcostanza
September 17, 2008, 07:10 PM
The same can be said about anything. It's not like a $60 bottle of Woodford Reserve will get you more drunk than a $10 bottle of Kentucky Tavern. Drunk is drunk, and if your goal is to get poop-faced, either one will do the trick. However, the Woodford is generally for the guy who wants to get some enjoyment out of his beverage. To savor it and appreciate it for what it is.

The point is, why fault the guys who enjoy the power of the .50 BMG cartridge and the feeling of hitting a target at 1200 yards?
A Raven shooting a .25 ACP will kill you just as dead as a Barrett shooting a .50 BMG. Someone who wants to do evil will find a way to do it. It aint about the gun.

tigre
September 17, 2008, 07:19 PM
As soon as you let them drag you into a 'needs' discussion they win.
Exactly.

I would say that the ownership of property should never be illegal in itself, unless a crime was necessarily committed in the making of that property (child porn, for example). Objects are just objects. It's what a person does with an object that may constitute a crime against another person, not the ownership of it. Why someone wants or needs a particular object isn't anyone else's business as long as they don't use it to harm others.

yokel
September 17, 2008, 07:36 PM
Second, anything the military issues to a soldier, be they regular infantry or special forces, a civilian of the United States should be legally allowed to buy at a gun store. Period. That is the only way the Second Ammemndment is effective in the way the the Founders intended it to be.

But the American people could not dream of achieving real parity of the current weapon arsenals of their government.

Nolo
September 17, 2008, 08:04 PM
Are certain guns excessive? Certainly. Most of them, in fact.
However, our country was founded on the ability to create excess for yourself.
When they wrote the Declaration of Independence, they didn't write "pursuit of stable, comfortable livelihood", they wrote "pursuit of happiness"
I know a .50 caliber makes me pretty darn happy...

Picard
September 17, 2008, 08:16 PM
But the American people could not dream of achieving real parity of the current weapon arsenals of their government.

There are more firearms in the hands of the American public than in the hands of the government. That's a safe bet.

yokel
September 17, 2008, 08:22 PM
The people's only chance is to develop a very strong quantitative edge that will balance its qualitative inferiority.

Loosedhorse
September 18, 2008, 05:40 PM
Being a gun owner is like volunteering to be in PR nowadays

Bull's eye. Wish more gun owners understood that. Sometimes, we're our own worst enemies.

dalepres
September 18, 2008, 05:57 PM
There's no such thing as overkill. Dead is dead. There is such a thing as underkill. Not dead is, in some situations, still a threat.

I want a .50 BMG soooooo badly - before it is too late. I really need to get off my butt and buy one... or three.

dalepres
September 18, 2008, 06:11 PM
I do have some practical hesitation about letting anyone with the bucks buy full auto weapons and destructive devices. We have plenty of crazy teenage boys on the streets who are dangerous enough with their toy cars. They would pony up whatever it cost to be heavily armed, just for the status of being the 'baddest' in town. Every one of them would absolutely NEED whatever the others had, just like with boombox sound systems and fancy wheels. Wouldn't be bad if they were good shots and only went after each other, but I wouldn't want to count on that.

Yet another Sarah Brady sponsored anti-gun post on a gun forum?

Do those teenage boys run around now with ugly black guns? Desert Eagles? .50 BMGs? AK-47s? Nines? Fo-tays? It is already illegal for teenagers to own or possess most of these. You and the Bradys miss the point that what empowers the teenage or young thugs is that the masses do not have the same weapons. In spite of what you see on TV, 150 years ago, when virtually all homes in the west were armed, thugs did not go around shooting up towns and schools. Besides prohibition, a large contributor to the gangland wars of the 1930s was the fact that American cities were already banning handguns and other weapons. Already guns were outlawed so only the outlaws had guns.

Gun violence, in an armed society, is a self-correcting problem. It doesn't last.

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