The CDC’s non-fatal injury data is estimated; fatal injury data comes from death certificates supplied by coroners, medical examiners and state vital statistics departments. It’s pretty reliable.

Why would anyone need a semi-automatic firearm for hunting? To be able to deliver a follow-up shot quickly without have to reacquire the target because of the need to work a bolt, lever, or pump; to mitigate recoil because part of the energy of the rounds is used to function the action; to drop multiple targets; and a variety of other reasons. They’re like jazz; if you have to ask, you’ll never know.

Semi-automatic rifles were introduced to American hunters (not the military; not the police) by Winchester in 1903. The first semi-automatic rifle with a detachable magazine, the Remington Model 8, went on sale to sportsmen in 1911. It was available with magazines holding up to 20 cartridges.

Apparently, hunters of a century ago liked the advantages of the semi-automatic rifle; they bought tens of thousands of them. This was long before the U.S. Army developed its first standard-issue semi-automatic rifle, the M1 Garand. Police liked the Model 8; Texas Ranger Frank Hamer had one when he and his posse ambushed Bonnie and Clyde and the FBI began purchasing them in the 1930s.

Incidentally, the U.S. government is still selling military-surplus Garands to citizens. When they are available, it also sells M1 carbines, which can accept magazines with capacities of up to 30 rounds, bayonets, muzzle flash hiders and can be fitted with pistol grips. Back in my younger days, it was possible to pick up a Garand from a F.W. Woolworth five-and-dime for $25-$30, no paperwork required. You could even mail-order them.

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Getting to the Stoner-pattern (AR-15 and the many copies and clones of it) rifle and the Kalashnikov-pattern rifle: In terms of basic functioning, these rifles are the same as the Winchester 1903 and Remington Model 8. They are simply an evolution of the earlier rifles. They are lightweight; have very little recoil; can be fitted with adjustable stocks that allow the length of pull to be adjusted for shooters of different sizes; and have a pistol grip that allows a more ergonomic and natural grip (compare holding an AR-15 and a traditional rifle and see which feels more natural and relaxed).

Contrary to the idiotic fantasies of gun ban fans, a muzzle-flash hider doesn’t hide muzzle flash. What it does is reduce the amount of flash visible to the shooter avoiding blinding in low-light conditions, such as night or early-morning hunts. It’s possible to add a flash hider to any firearm although they are of only limited value with revolvers due to the flash between the cylinder and the forcing cone.

Both Stoner and Kalashnikov rifles are popular with hunters. One of the big advantages of the Stoner rifle is the ease with which calibers can be changed. With a single receiver, upper assemblies chambered for a number of different cartridges can be fitted in a matter of minutes. This means that a single rifle can be adapted to hunt varmints, deer, and feral hogs. The original Stoner rifle, the larger AR-10, can be fitted with upper assemblies that are chambered for cartridges capable of bringing down even the largest predators in the Western Hemisphere.

The terms “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are propaganda. There is no such thing as an assault weapon; any weapon can be used for an assault. Assault rifles describe a specific type of rifle, a compact, lightweight, selective-fire rifle chambered for a cartridge intermediate between a submachine gun (pistol) cartridge and that used for a true battle rifle. The .30–06 cartridge used by the World War I 1903 Springfield and the Garand could give the .223 Remington round lessons in wounding.

Speaking of wounds, the bullet in the AR-15’s standard cartridge can create a grievous wound, compared to a handgun bullet. But so can virtually any centerfire rifle bullet. During the occupation of Poland, German soldiers would line up Jews front-to-back and kill them with a single shot from the standard battle rifle.

At the ranges encountered in most mass shootings, a rifle wound can be very damaging. However, every proposed assault weapons ban has exempted the pump shotgun. Allow me to share what a physician had to say about close-range shotgun wounds:

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The gun industry estimates that American citizens own about 16 million Stoner- and Kalashnikov-pattern rifles. Do you know how many have been used in mass shootings? About 60, including the 22 that Stephen Paddock had in his Las Vegas hotel room.

Of course you remember the federal Assault Weapons Ban that was in effect from late 1994 to the end of September 2004. Do you remember why it was allowed to expire? It wasn’t the NRA; the NRA had fought the ban prior to it being enacted and lost to the gun control advocates. Nope, it was the fact that in ten years, the ban had shown no significant impact on criminal violence. Maybe it was short-sightedness on the part of the FBI, but ban fans had assured everyone that it would reduce it. In reality, the average rate of the use of rifles in homicides has been 21% lower since the ban expired than it was during the years it was in force.

This doesn’t actually seem to be a real public health crisis or a major threat to public safety. Killers use knives, blunt objects and bare hands more often than they use rifles.

And how about raising the age to legally purchase a gun from 18 to 21? That was a big deal after Nikolas Cruz used a Smith & Wesson M&P-15 rifle he purchased from Sunshine Tactical to kill people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

The Colt AR-15 Sporter was introduced in the fall of 1963 and went on sale in early 1964. In the 54 years from the time they went on sale until the Parkland shooting, how many young adults under the age of 21 have used a legally purchased AR-15 (or any AR-style rifle) in a mass shooting? One: Nikolas J. Cruz. There are an estimated 12.7 million young American adults in the 18 to 20 age group. One out of that many is an awfully small percentage.

To be fair, the AR-15 is not the only type of “assault rifle.” 20-year-old former USAF airman Dean Mellburg bought a Kalashnikov-style rifle to commit a mass shooting at Fairchild AFB in Washington state — in 1994.

Fifty-four years: two incidents.

How about handguns with “high-capacity” magazines? Or even extended-capacity magazines? Most handguns are kept for self-defense. Many people select the gun they purchase based on the choices made by law enforcement officers. What gets overlooked it the fact they make that choice for the same reason as law enforcement officers; to have adequate defensive capability in the event it’s needed.

Not long ago, U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez declared California’s ban on high capacity magazines was unconstitutional. Among the reasons for his ruling was an interesting point: where did the 10-round standard come from? It doesn’t make any sense. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra presented the usual excuses but Judge Benitez didn’t buy them (especially when Becerra cited Mother Jones as a source). Benitez cited two cases where women ran out of ammunition while trying to stop an attacker.

Why do cops use pistols with high-capacity magazines? The choice was influenced by the FBI shootout with Michael Platt and William Matix in 1986. Platt was shot 12 times, including pellet wounds from a shotgun round. The first wound was mortal; his lung was collapsed and an autopsy found three liters of blood in his body. He was hit eleven more times but still managed to kill two FBI agents before he died.

Sounds like a pretty good reason for more bullets.

Since no one else will tell you, I will: the whole “epidemic of gun violence” is a lie. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system data, the average homicide rate over the ten-year span from 2008 to 2017 (the latest year for which we have national data) is the lowest of any of the preceding ten-year periods going back to 1958. In 2014, the U.S. homicide rate was the lowest for any year since 1957.

It’s all part of the Big Lie, which is a time-honored propaganda tool embraced by people like Adolph Hitler, who referred to it in Mein Kampf.

It can be quite effective; make a lie big enough and repeat it often enough and people will accept it as the truth.

Let me give you an example of the Big Lie in action.

In the first week of February of this year, NPR and the PBS Newshour commissioned a Marist poll. The poll focused on gun control and government. Predictably, the poll showed strong support for the gun control agenda. But the last question in the survey was very interesting.

“From what you have heard or read, do you think, compared to 25 years ago, the per capita gun murder rate in the U.S. is higher, lower, or about the same?”

Fifty-nine percent of those responding said it was high, 23% said it was about the same. The truth is that the per capita rate of gun murder plunged 36% between 1993 and 2017, the most recent 25-year period for which we have data. The more commonly accepted rate per 100,000 population dropped 32%.

So 82% of the people responding to the survey were wrong but their beliefs had been formed by what they are heard or read.

Go, Big Lie! Adolph would be so proud.

You mentioned suicides, which are often added to homicide data to make the numbers look bigger. About 60% of all fatal gunshot injuries are suicides. But guns are used in only about half of all suicides. The percentage is that high because white, non-Hispanic males are the most likely to commit suicide and the mostly likely to use a gun. Suicides among women don’t get mentioned much, perhaps because less than a third of women use a gun; depending on the age group, guns are either the second- or third-most popular method after suffocation (usually by hanging) and poison (overdoses of prescription medicines or combinations of alcohol and drugs).

The problem is that the suicide rate among women is rising faster than the suicide rate among men.

Moreover, the use of firearms and poison in suicides has been declining while suicides by suffocation have been increasing, especially among younger women.

Red flag laws are a popular topic in the gun control conversation. Advocates are fond of pointing to states like California and Connecticut as shining examples of their efficacy.

Connecticut has had red flag laws since 1999, so we should have a fairly good idea of how they work, at least in the Nutmeg State.

Suicides involving firearms have declined significantly. Yay! Unfortunately, Connecticut’s overall suicide rate has risen faster than the national rate. A similar effect has been observed in California, which has had red flag laws for only a few years.

That’s hardly a success story unless you are a cynical manipulator like, say, every Democratic candidate for President, and the suicides by other methods don’t really count. Out of the 47,173 suicides reported by the CDC for 2017, 23,319 involved methods other than guns. 13,075 people ended their own lives by suffocation of various methods; 6,554, more than half of them women, killed themselves with poison.

Do you really think that nobody cares or grieves or misses them because they didn’t use a gun? Because that’s exactly what anyone who lumps suicide in with homicide and calls it “gun violence” is saying.

Everyone calls gun owners callous because we refuse to take responsibility for the violent acts of other people; we refuse to take “ownership” of mass shootings. At least we care about the all of the victims.

Most gun owners aren’t dead set against gun control. We understand the need to keep guns out of the hands of children and people who shouldn’t have them. We live with thousands of gun laws every day. As long as they observe the rights contained in the Bill of Rights, including all of the Amendments, we’re willing to be reasonable.

Where we draw the line is an idiotic agenda of legislation that would do nothing to prevent violence or keep bad guys from getting guns.

If you examine the proposals of groups like Everytown for Gun Safety, the Giffords Law Center, and the Brady Center, you will find that they only impact law-abiding citizens; people that have done nothing wrong and present no threat to public safety. Based on real-world experience, they don’t reduce crime of violence, or even suicide.

They are bullshit (pardon the nasty word, but it’s accurate) and it’s high time the American people quit deluding themselves into thinking they are pate de foie gras, caviar, or the best ice cream they ever tasted.

Professional writer. Passionately interested in facts. Founder of onewordtexas.org

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