As expected, the usual suspects are decrying the lack of layman understanding of the phrase “assault rifle” and “assault weapon” as if it means anything. An AR-15 is not an “assault weapon” – okay. True. “AR” does not stand for “Assault Rifle” but “Armalite Rifle.” There’s some basic learnin’ for ya before you try to get into a debate with your cousin Rudy about certain people and “killin’ em all and letting sweet baby Jesus sort ’em out.”
And there are those who take pride in pointing out that the weapon (which has been alternately reported as an “AR-15” and “AR-15-like” and “similar to the AR-15”) was NOT an AR-15. To that, I concede the point and say “Well, played, Yosemite Sam.” It WAS, in fact, the Sig Sauer MCX, the civilian version of a weapon designed for US Special Forces. Apparently they call it “Black Mamba” so I guess they use it to hunt snakes? I don’t know. These gun terms are so complicated. Are there big snakes in Afghanistan? Big enough to require Special Forces intervention? Holy shit, people. We’ve been lied to about the true enemy all this time. Summon Kevin Bacon and Fred Ward! Giant snake fuckery is afoot!
(EDIT: I’m told that the Black Mamba (MCX LVAW – Low-Visibility Assault Weapon) is quite an effective tool for killing people dead at up to 300 yards with a fast cycle on full-auto and designed to sling and draw quick, compact for troops on the go.)
The weapon used in the Orlando massacre (is that an acceptable term to use or would we prefer to downgrade it to something like “numerous light killings”?) is NOT an “assault weapon” or “assault rifle” because … well, I guess it depends on who you ask.
Miriam Webster: “any of various automatic or semiautomatic rifles with large capacity magazines designed for military use.” Wow. That’s pretty broad and unhelpful. I look at this weapon… semi-auto…40 round clip…designed for US Special Forces…deployed in combat… hmm.
(EDIT: I’m told that I’ve confused the term “magazine” with “clip” so – in case that made following the rest of the narrative impossible, please accept my apology and my half-assed effort to update my references later in the post.)
But gun advocates don’t use that definition because it is a very loose one and subject to interpretation. Kinda like the Second Amendment, I guess. The Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 says “In general, assault weapons are semiautomatic firearms with a large magazine of ammunition that were designed and configured for rapid fire and combat use.”
Define “rapid” because that will become important again in a moment.
Also, adding “in general” doesn’t help me specify, so I guess we can be a little subjective here.
There are also some conditions that help us define what accessories must be present to make it an Assault Weapon – collapsible stock (the MCX has a detachable, swappable stock), barrel shroud (there’s one on the MCX – a nice one that “barely gets warm” after 100 rounds in 40 seconds.), it’s semi-auto (check), pistol grip (check), WAIT! I don’t see an option for a bayonet or a grenade launcher. So if this list is inclusive then it technically is not. Touche.
(EDIT: I’m told it doesn’t have the forward grip, either, so points to the semantic shootists again!)
Of course if your definition of “assault weapon” is a “weapon suitable for use in an assault” then you might have yourself a winner – but don’t get into a semantic argument with someone who wants to hold to the legalish definition. It won’t end well.
So what IS a Sig Sauer MCX if not an assault weapon? Or an assault rifle? Is it a “sporting rifle”? Clearly it isn’t part of the FAW ban, so perhaps it is sporting! Looking up the weapon on the manufacturer’s page I learned a few sporting and hunting tips about this snake shooter…
According to the people who make and sell it, the tool that took the lives of 52 people and injured 49 others is “an innovative WEAPON SYSTEM built around a BATTLE-PROVEN core: SIG’s gas-operated, short-stroke piston system. Trust it for the outstanding performance, no matter the conditions, that you’ve come to expect from the leading name in firearms.” (emph. mine)
Now, that’s some sales testosterone talking. I’m sure when they say “weapon system” they mean it in the same way a Rolodex is an “information system,” right? Because when you add the whole “Battle-Proven” I start to think maybe there’s a military use for this thing. Maybe they’re hyping this to reflect “battle” against hostile squirrels or gophers?
WAIT! Home defense. I forgot about that. Maybe that’s what it was designed for, right? I mean, just looking at this sexy piece of steel suggests it was designed to give the user an erection and the receiver a full pantload. I respect it. I would love to try it out sometime and feel for myself how many people I could kill if I were a deranged, hate-filled, suicidal psychopath.
So. What else does this “groundbreaking tactical weapon” do?
Well, here’s a video of how you, too, can fire off several rounds in a short period of time inside an office building (or gay nightclub if you prefer, though I don’t know why you would.)
Here’s a dude who shoots a hundred rounds of “constant firing” (his title calls it “100 round dump”) to give you an idea how fast someone can “dump” the weapon’s ammo into homicidal deer and or infidel buffalo. (Dude shoots 40 rounds in 8 seconds, swaps magazines in a casual five seconds, and lays out two more 30-round mags all in about forty seconds.)
Holy fuck this looks like the perfect tool to gun down a bunch of gay Hispanics in a dark, confined space. Or Smurfs. Or hallucinations. I can see why a murderous psychopath might want it. Somehow the argument that a crazy person with a knife could have done as much damage seems even MORE idiotic.
Watch that room sweep video again with the “dump” rate of fire in mind and it all makes sense. The Monster of Orlando Pulse walks in at 2:02am and opens fire on a club with an estimated 350 people inside and on the deck. The club is dark, the music is loud and there is confusion and panic as soon as the shooting starts. For the next seven to nine minutes, the Monster engaged in a gun battle with police while continuing to murder and injure those stuck inside the club. One hundred rounds in 40 seconds including two magazine changes.
And most of the victims were not removed until after the 5am breakthrough that killed the Monster. All that time, additional victims succumbed to their injuries.
Makes this whole “but it’s not an assault weapon” complaint a little more than ignorant and quite a bit in denial of the reality of the danger of designing a military weapon and then retrofitting it to civilian use for fun and profit.
Here’s my thing. I grew up around gun advocates who are perfectly nice, intelligent people. But like many gun enthusiasts who appreciate a high-powered killing tool for sport and home defense, they believe that the only people who use those tools are law-abiding, safety-conscious people like them. If it is pointed out that the same deadly weapon they bought can also be purchased by a mentally unstable, angry homophobes or wanna-be Frank Castles they will reply:
“THAT is why WE need these guns, too.”
It’s a circular argument. The weapons exist. So bad people get them. Therefore, good people need them because they exist AND because bad people have them. So we need MORE weapons with better capacity, longer range, harder ammunition, sexier designs… Boggles my fuckin’ mind.
And there is a point where regulation and legislation become impediments to the rights of law-abiding citizens. I respect that. I respect that this is a nation of hunters and trappers, of people who honor those traditions and work to control animal populations by culling the weak and sick. But for fuck sake, people. You can’t stand in the congealing blood of four dozen innocent people and cry “Who will stand up for the innocent guns?!”
As far as rifles go for home-defense, I see reason for it. If I can see someone heading up my driveway looking like they’re up to no good or a black bear chasing Uncle Walter up from the cotton fields, I can see how important distance offense would be. But I live on a half acre of yard. When I’m in the dark I don’t think the safest thing for me to have for security is a tactical sporting rifle that can put holes through framing boards and drywall faster than Keith Moon can swallow a fistful of pills. I think I’d much rather have a compact 9mm that might not alert armed intruders before I aim and fire. I’ve always imagined I’d be in a dead sleep before someone broke into my house and I’d only have a few seconds to react before there was a sexy, pants-shitting, “sporting” Black Mamba pointed in my face.
So I DO SEE a value in having a rifle. Maybe not something designed so that you could kill three intruders ten times over before you have to change magazines. Hell, regulate ME so I don’t buy the wrong tool and accidentally blow out half my bathroom confusing my cat for sinister Men in Black. I’ll take a psyche exam. I’ll take safety courses. I’ll have the whole family take them and I’ll register my weapon every year like my car. I’m down with that – anything to keep us from having another mass shooting every other fucking week.
What’s next? Maybe it will be a Mosque, a school musical, a graduation, a college dorm, a police station, a gridlocked highway underpass… look how easy it will be for the next deranged bastard to ruin the lives of hundreds of people using a legally-obtained tool expressly designed for that purpose.
The first step toward a constructive discussion is to cut through the bullshit. Deflecting the argument that gun control advocates don’t have a voice because they don’t use the same vernacular is bullshit. The MCX is the perfect tool for hunting humans because that was how it was designed. Let’s just be honest about it. There are military applications for this weapon and the civilian version only makes it slightly less lethal.
Let’s at least admit what the thing is we’re discussing and move forward with how we can keep this out of the hands of people who hunt civilians, okay? Or is that too much to ask?