Friday, June 07, 2013

Why does Slate want to ban advanced technology rifles?

For the last five years, the number of homicides from sniper attacks in the United States has averaged a bit less than three. In 2010, the last year I have data for, there were three. To put this in context, the number of children killed by their babysitters in that year were 36.

In a nation of over 300 million, your chance of being killed at a distance by a rifle shooter are less than one in 100 million. Rifles are ubiquitous in the United States, with about 100 million in the hands of citizens.

So, why does Justin Peters of Slate even bother to write about the latest high technology, extremely pricey rifle and scope combination in a blog about crime? He never really says. Here is the closest he comes:

"While the TrackingPoint technology has definite military applications, I can’t think of any real civilian use for it. In a sense, the TrackingPoint is just a really advanced scope. But even the best scope doesn’t fire the gun for you. Any self-respecting hunter ought to be disgusted by something that promises to turn every hunt into a canned hunt. Despite the manufacturer’s claims, TrackingPoint really isn’t suited for target shooting—where’s the fun in shooting at a target that you know you’re going to hit? It’s overkill for self-defense; the only way you would feel like you were in imminent danger from someone standing 500 yards away is if that person also had a TrackingPoint. Who would actually use this weapons system?"

It appears that Justin Peters has a problem with civilians having access to military technology. I suspect he never got the memo from those who want to gut the Second Amendment (now obsolete because... well, they really wanted to ban effective military weaponry all along) that the Second Amendment only protected weapons that were useful to a militia. To emphasise his point, he puts it succinctly in the concluding paragraph:

"But a half-good automated long-range rifle is still more of a long-range rifle than any civilian needs. This thing is legal now, but let’s hope it isn’t for long."
It seems that Justin simply dislikes the idea of civilians having any arms that might be militarily effective, and wants to translate that dislike into law, in spite of the fact that there is virtually no criminal problem with snipers. It is similar to the push to ban .50 caliber rifles, that have never been used in crime.

It is worth noting that the anti-freedom types now feel sufficiently emboldened to explicitly say that they want to prevent civilians from having equipment that is militarily effective, even though the use of the items in crime is minuscule or non-existent.

The most clearly stated purpose of the Second Amendment is to ensure that the citizen militias have access to militarily effective weaponry.

Justin Peters seems to be remarkably unimaginative about the potential uses of long range rifles. I suspect he would be unimpressed with considerations of varmint control, playing with technological limits, use of technology to overcome the disabilities associated with age and injury, and similar arguments. He seems to simply distrust those who are not in the government, yet he grants unlimited trust to those who are in charge of the power of the government.

Those who fashioned our constitutional republic did not share his trust of the powers that be. After all, those in power are only human, fallible humans who have the added disadvantage of enormous power and the temptation to use it for corrupt purposes. While government is necessary, it is also fallible and capable of far greater evil than any individual citizen.

©2013 by Dean Weingarten Permission to share granted as long as this notice is included.

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