You've watched the news already. You know what happened. So let's cut to the chase before there's any more debates, shall we?
First, some basic definitions:
Automatic: Pulling and holding the trigger allows the rifle to continuously fire rounds. Rates of fire are about 700 rounds per minute. When people say "machine gun", this is typically what they are referring to.
Semi-automatic: The rifle, pistol, shotgun, etc. fires one round for every one trigger pull. You have to pull the trigger to fire. It's still "automatic" because the gun automatically reloads a new round into the chamber after the previous round was fired. No bolt pull or reloading of rounds is necessary. This technology has been around since the civil war. Rates of fire are between 45-60 rounds per minute.
(1.) Automatic Rifles are pretty much impossible for the average citizen to get, as they were no longer legal to buy new in the 80's.
This is a gross simplification but before the Firearm Owners Protection Act (FOPA) in 1986, pretty much anyone who passed a background check and paid a tax could own an automatic rifle. After FOPA was passed, nobody except law enforcement and the military could get there hands on brand new automatic rifles. You could still buy a pre-FOPA one as a civilian, but they were outrageously expensive ($5k-$20k for some automatic rifles vs just $1k-$2k for their semi-automatic counterparts) and you had to get approval and sometimes special permits to get one. So basically nobody except range owners, the super rich, or the police can get their hands on them.
(2.) Semi-automatic rifles are extremely difficult to convert to automatic rifles on purpose, and have been since the 1930's.
It is NOT easy to convert a semi-automatic rifle (such as the AR-15) to an automatic one (such as the M4A1). The trigger, trigger mechanisms, hammer, bolts, and many other parts are all different. It's like trying to change an automatic transmission car into a manual (standard) transmission car. Sure it can be done, but it's not as simple as just putting in a new transmission and calling it a day. You need new clutch mechanisms, shifter housings, a new ECU, a new flywheel, etc. Converting an AR-15 to an automatic version is not only a federal offensive, but quite difficult and needs special machining. This was put into law as part of the 1934 National Firearms Act, where manufacturers are required to design their weapons parts to be unswappable between semi-automatic and automatic modes. In fact it's probably cheaper and easier to go through the special permit and buying procedure I mentioned above to get an automatic rifle than to try and convert one.
(3.) "Assault" Rifles are mostly called so because they look scary, whereas they function almost identical to common hunting rifles.
Many want to ban "assault" weapons, especially the AR-15 after it has been used in multiple shootings in recent years. Problem is, what really is an assault weapon? How do you define that? Is it a gun that has the potential to kill with ease? Because that's basically every gun on the planet.. No, as defined in the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons ban, it's pretty much any rifle that has a folding/telescoping stock, a pistol grip, bayonet mount, and/or a threaded barrel. None of these things actually even affect the deadliness or power of a gun, they're mostly for looks or ergonomics. The AR-15 was "banned" from 1994-2004 due to these features, where manufactures just changed the grip, stripped it of some features, and *poof* it remained legal. Nowadays, unless you live in a state that bans them, regular AR-15's are completely legal.
Still don't believe me? Take a look. Here is an AR-15:
Here is a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, a popular hunting rifle:
These rifles look almost completely different, but function exactly the same.
-Both are semi-automatic rifles, and about the same size.
-Both use the same ammunition, the .223 caliber round.
-Both have the same magazine capacity.
-Both have about the same muzzle (bullet) velocity.
-Both are about the same accuracy.
What's the difference then? Oh, the AR-15 looks more scary. So go ahead and ban AR-15's, the Ruger Mini-14 is bascially the same gun but will almost guaranteed remain legal.
Speaking of, here's a Ruger Mini-14 tactical edition, or should I say, ASSAULT WEAPON edition:
EXACTLY THE SAME GUN, JUST LOOKS SCARY.
(4.) You honestly have little reason to fear rifles (or shotguns) in general, as they're rarely used to murder.
Yes, the AR-15 has been used in a lot of mass shootings. Why? Simply because it's the most popular rifle in the United States. This is mainly due to it's half a century long history and being a domestic weapon. It's like how the AK-47 variants are the most popular in former USSR countries. Banning it won't make much of a difference, since mass shooters will probably just pick up the Mini-14 above and do the same thing.
There's an estimated 3 to 4 million AR-15's owned by civilians in the United States. If the AR-15 and its owners were actually dangerous, you'd be dead right now. While I do agree we need much stronger filtering processes for gun buyers (more on that later), trying to ban a gun because it's been used in a mass shooting a handful of times when there's millions of them out there being used responsibly is outrageous. It's like how people are afraid of being eaten by a shark when chances are they'll die on the commute to work instead.
And this isn't just me speaking nonsense, the New York Times found that "assault" rifles were RARELY used in violent crime. Out of all gun related homicides nationwide, 80% were committed with handguns. Yes, small little guns that pack only a fraction of the punch as an "assault" rifle.
But why so? Well, if you're wanting to murder someone generally speaking you don't want people to figure out you're a murderer. Sure if you're some mass shooter this won't matter because you'll go in guns blazing and kill yourself or the police will.
However, handguns have these distinct advantages over rifles like the AR-15:
-They are easy to conceal. No one will know you have a gun until it's too late.
-They are much cheaper to buy, as well as the ammo for them.
-They are easy to use and have a smaller weight.
-They are less suspicious to own. It's quite often people by handguns to carry on them for self-defense and use for home defense due to their small size.
And that is why they are used to murder so much. Now, most states know this and thus it's much harder to get a handgun than a rifle like an AR-15. You sometimes don't need permits for rifles and shotguns, since they're heavily used for hunting and sport, but almost always do need a permit for a handgun because these are most often used to shoot people instead of real purposes. Yes, this graph is from Wikipedia.
Most AR-15's and rifles like it are bought because they're cool and gun owners like to add them to their collection. Yes, guns are collectibles here in the US. Five of my friends/family have AR-15's and three of them own over 20 f**king guns each. All three of them said they bought an AR-15 partially for home-defense and range shooting (which are legitimate purposes for them) but they said the main reason they bought an AR-15 was because they look badass. Yes. Really.
That was the main reason these guys bought them, and 99% of the time those AR-15's are locked away in a gun safe. Meanwhile, all 5 carry pistols like the one pictured around with them nearly all the time. Like I said though, guns like the AR-15 are practically hunting rifles and thus work well for hunting/range shooting with a smaller mag and good sights. However, most bought them because they look intimidating, which is the main reason people want them banned.
(5.) Yes, better background checks for buying guns in necessary, but trying to ban them is stupid, especially since gun violence has heavily declined in the United States.
Look, I totally agree we need better background checks. There's no justifiable reason mental health records and watchlists shouldn't be used before the purchase of a gun is made. Nearly all of the mass shooters have something in common, they clearly shouldn't have been able to get their hands on guns (due to mental history or being suspected for f**king terrorism) yet, they were able to because there weren't systems in place to filter them out. There's estimated to be more guns than people in the United States, so you're not getting rid of them and clearly your average everyday citizen is not to blame. However, we can't just let people get their hands on weapons without making sure they aren't suspicious.
The good news is that gun violence has been decreasing in the United States while gun ownership has increased. Case & Point:
That isn't some joke. Gun ownership has skyrocketed in the United states yet death rates have gone down. No, this is not a fallacy of causation where just because people own more guns = less crime. There's many external factors including more active police, better economic conditions for the lower class, etc. Either way, despite that the Internet has allowed nearly every single shooting that happens in the US to become viral in just minutes, things are actually getting better overall.
Although, unfortunately, the amount of guns being used for suicides has increased, as the suicide rate has increased (mental background checks might be a good way to help decrease this).
Point is, guns, aka inanimate objects, are not to blame but instead we the people glorifying violence and allowing violent people to get those guns with ease are the blame. I hope you learned something today and can hopefully take advantage of the rights you have been given to help protect yourself from the malicious maniacs out there. Thank you for reading.