November 2004

Downrange 11/04:

Gun Tests reader Ben Shaw of Clarke County, Alabama, wrote me the day after the Clinton Gun Ban expired. His comments on the ban, the “banners,” and various talking heads on television parallel my own. I think you’ll enjoy reading what he had to say.

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The reason that gun experts laugh at these anti-gun legislators and lobbyists is that they do not know anything about firearms. An example: One of the features that was banned as causing a rifle to be an “Assault Weapon” was a bayonet lug. Will anyone please tell me when a bayonet mounted on a rifle was used in a crime?

How does one detect these ignorant anti-gun legislators and lobbyists? By knowing the proper terminology, and by getting some genuine firearms experts onto television shows. As for the expert, I recommend Charlie Cutshaw. He is an editor for the Jane’s Publications organization, as well as a contributing editor for a number of other technical firearms publications. He has appeared in a number of TV shows about firearms, such as the Tales of the Gun series on the History Channel. [He also co-edited Legends and Reality of the AK: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the History, Design, and Impact of the Kalashnikov Family of Weapons, among other titles. –Ed.]

As for some terminology:

THE CAPACITY OF A FIREARM: If the so-called television expert says that a certain firearm could hold X number of “bullets” he is not an expert. The proper term is “cartridges” or “rounds” for rifles, carbines, pistols and revolvers. One might let him/her get by with “shells,” but that term is more properly applied to shotguns only.

ASSAULT RIFLE: There is a category of weapon known as “Assault Rifles.” To be so classified, a firearm must be a shoulder-fired weapon that is both capable of full-automatic fire and chambered for a cartridge that is intermediate between pistol (or revolver) ammunition and rifle ammunition; i.e., carbine ammunition. The original Assault Rifle was developed by the German Military during WWII. Its original name was “Machinen Karabine,” or machine carbine. It was eventually renamed Sturm Gewehr (Sturm is the German word for storm or assault; Gewehr is German for rifle).

WHAT SHOULD SEMI-AUTO CIVILIAN VERSIONS OF MILITARY FULL-AUTO ASSAULT RIFLES BE CALLED? Carbines.

ASSAULT WEAPONS: There is no such class of weapons. Any implement or tool can be used as a weapon, either for legitimate purposes, or to assault someone. But this does not make the implement in question an “Assault Weapon.” Evidence the bank robber the other day who used a pitchfork. Do we now have a category of implement known as “Assault Forks?”