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Dianne Feinstein is Misleading the Public With Her Assault Weapons Ban

iSen. Dianne Feinstein introduced a bill Thursday to ban so-called “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines.

When Feinstein appeared on PBS' Newshour to discuss her assault weapons bill, she said “it gets quite technical" and stated so-called assault weapons are “developed for military purposes to kill in close combat” adding “they aren't used for hunting."

Feinstein seems to be willfully ignoring facts to deliberately mislead you about these so-called “assault weapons.”

First, she says it gets quite technical.”

OK, let's look at the technical information about these guns. They are not “military weapons"; they look similar, or bear cosmetic resemblance, to military weapons, but they are not used by the military. The AR-15 as sold in the U.S. to civilians is a semi-automatic gun that looks like the military M4A1 carbine rifle or the M-16 battle rifle. They look nearly identical. As former Marine Joshua Boston would tell you, they are not military guns. Military soldiers mock the AR-15 calling it an “M-forgery's” a play on “M4” precisely because they are not military guns. They have functional differences. The AR-15 is a semi-automatic rifle which can only fire one bullet per trigger squeeze. The M4A1 is capable of either burst (several rounds with one trigger squeeze) or fully automatic fire (fires until the trigger is released or there are no more bullets left) by use of a selector switch. Select fire capability is what makes an actual assault rifle what it is (for example, Connecticut – where there is a current state-level assault weapons ban – acknowledges this technical definition in their legal definition).

AR-15's are not designed for “close quarters combat,” and neither is the military M4A1, which is designed for intermediate range combat with an effective range of 400–600 meters. By contrast, sub-machine guns are designed for shorter range and potentially usable in close quarters combat.

AR-15's are hunting rifles, depending on what you're hunting and how the rifle is configured. AR-15's chambered in the standard .223 (5.56 metric) are used for varmint hunting precisely because of it's accuracy at a long distance. But AR-15's have an “upper” and “lower” part of the weapon that can be changed out – even in the field – allowing the weapon to be chambered in larger rounds, including 6.8 and .308. These rounds are used for hog hunting, and .308 may be used for hunting deer or elk.

However, contrary to the political hype, the standard .223 is not an especially dangerous round, and aside from varmints is not useful for hunting. Many states will not allow deer or elk hunting with a .223 for the very reason it is not powerful enough. By contrast, hunting cartridges like 7mm, 8mm, 270WIN, .303, 30-06 fired from bolt-action rifles are vastly more powerful.

So-called “assault rifles” are targeted because they have been used in a few high-profile shootings. They receive inordinate media attention because they look like “military-style” weapons (Note: style – or cosmetic appearance – is the key word). But these guns are not responsible for most gun violence in the U.S.

Rifles, of which so-called “assault rifles” are a subset, accounted for just 2.55% of all homicides in 2011. Mass murder accounts for less than 100 dead out of nearly 13,000 homicides. And not all mass shootings involve so-called “assault weapons”. The Virginia Tech shooter used handguns and 19 magazines – mostly 10 round magazines. Neither his handgun, nor the 10 round magazines would be affected by Feinstein's proposed ban.

Feinstein must mislead us in order to make it seem that so-called “assault weapons” are more dangerous than they really are, made for purposes that they are not, and don't have the legitimate purposes that they do. 

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