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« We could be heroes | Main | What places like Singapore are for, according to Hercule Poirot »


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As someone who had to use one in his day job, the ammosexual fetish for the AR-15 and its clones really baffles me. The goddamn thing is only fair at its' actual job - being a battle rifle - and for almost every other non-combat rifle use (which are 1) hunting, and 2) target shooting) is a monstrous pain-in-the-ass.

It's full of ridiculously small, fussy parts, for one thing. If you don't have access to ammunition with truly high-grade propellant it tends to foul quickly, and when the gas tube fouls the bolt carrier tends to short-recoil and the action malfunctions, either due to a failure to extract (the spent cartridge case), failure to eject (same), or failure to feed (the next round).

So to ensure proper operation the damn rifle has to be kitchen clean, and that means a ton of time disassembling the bastard, cleaning it, lubricating it, and reassembling it. Like every modern military firearm it knocks down fairly easily, but as mentioned, the parts are irritatingly small and prone to get lost unless you're very meticulous about finding a nice flat spot to lay them out.

And the small round - which is a good thing for a soldier, since it allows you to carry more rounds for the same weight-load - is not particularly good for killing things larger than people. A single .30 caliber round will knock down most large animals if well-placed. A 5.56mm round usually won't. What it will do is tumble and rip up a lot of the meat, or, worse, break up and leave lots of nasty lead bits in the venison.

I've had a lot of fun target-shooting with a Mark III* Short-magazine Lee-Enfield bolt action rifle. It's also a perfectly good hunting rifle.

This bizarre fascination with military-style assault rifles completely baffles me. Like you say; it's a tool. Who the hell wants a fussy, hard-to-maintain tool that isn't much good for what you want to use it for?


Maybe there should be legally-recognized and licensed places where you could go, plunk down a few bucks, slip on your ear protectors, choose from the stock of exotic weapons on hand, blast away in a safe, supervised environment, and return the weapon when your hour -- or whatever -- is up. Maybe they could blow some steam off there.


I certainly haven't read every piece dealing with the shooting in Sutherland Springs but so far I haven't seen any mention of where the rounds fired by the 'heroes' ended up. Based on multiple accounts it seems the shooter was coming out of the church having expended all his ammunition, something like 450 rounds, when he was shot at. He was hit in the arm and torso, dropped his empty rifle, got into his vehicle, and drove off.

From the account it sounded like the hero fired a dozen, or so, rounds. Two hit the attacker, and I will assume they either stopped in him or lacked enough energy to do any more harm, but what of the other shots? Did they go into the church? Did they hit an innocent? Did they maim or kill anyone not already maimed or dying? Will we ever know? Or do we assume that all shots fired by a righteous shooter to be blameless, if not entirely harmless?

I don't bring this up to get the guy thinking he is doing the right thing prosecuted, or even the feel bad. I bring this up to demonstrate how blunt and indiscriminate firearms are as tools. Being hit by friendly-fire is just as damaging as being shot by someone intending harm. As always, it is the total harm done that counts, not the intentions of those shooting.

Perhaps, one day, there will be a case where a good guy will, against all odds, get the drop on a bad guy with a gun before he can do harm. In the mean time the good guys will be trying to prevent shootings by doing their own shooting and all present will be at risk from both sides.

There is also the problem faced by both good guys and police, how to tell the good guys from the bad. In the old cowboy serials it was simple, good guys were white hats and bad guys wear black hats. If only real life could be so simple.

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