In my military career, I have been armed with everything from a pistol to a light machine gun. Most of the time my personal weapon has been either an Assault rifle (AR) or a submachine gun (SMG). While in UN missions in Cyprus and Lebanon I have carried the weapons loaded with live ammunition in daily use. I have also fired a large number of weapons, including muzzle loaders, shotguns, low calibre ammunition rifles, bolt action rifles, target pistols and recoilless anti tank guns. I have trained hundreds of recruits in the art of handling, shooting and maintaining a personal weapon. What I have to say is not based on speculation, it comes from thousands of hours of personal experience handling weapons.
ARs and SMGs have no place in civil society
ARs have been used i several of the latest US mass murders, because they are easily accessible and they are very effective for the job. One may argue that an SMG would be even more effective in a school shooting scenario, because an SMG has less of a kickback, lower weight and better efficiency at close quarters, but the difference isn’t all that big and SMGs are not as popular as ARs in the US. There is no legitimate usage of these weapons that can’t be handled by a gun much less suitable for the mass killing of people.
In the following, I’m comparing ARs and SMGs against the arguments the gun lobby bring forward, without taking a stance about the validity of those arguments.
The most suitable weapon for personal protection is a pistol or a revolver, either in an open or a concealed carry depending on the situation. For personal protection, you need a weapon that works in any space and in situations when you are surprised. An AR is way too unwieldy to be practical under most circumstances. Only in long and medium distance firefights would an AR be more useful than a handgun. If you get into one of those, you are no longer working on personal protection. At medium and long distance, your job is to take cover and get out of there as soon as possible. There is no way you are going to win against a prepared enemy. Same thing goes for protecting others. Unless you are carrying an AR in a ready position, it takes a much longer time to fire it accurately, than does a handgun. Your assailant will be in the ready position, you won’t. A handgun gives you a much better chance, though going for cover will almost always be your first choice, then you bring out your gun, in case the assailant goes after you.
The case for home protection is almost without exception about dealing with a single burglar or a crazy maniac. Gang or other group assaults on homes are exceedingly rare. Dealing with a single armed assailant on your home turf is best done with a handgun, a shotgun or, in a pinch, a hunting rifle. Automatic and semi automatic weapons are very unsuitable. Misses will cause damage to your property and the penetrating power of an AR bullet may accidentally injure household members, friends or pets in other rooms in the house.
If you can’t kill your prey with a bolt action gun with 6 cartridges in a fixed interior magazine, you have no business being a hunter. A bolt action rifle has much better precision than an AR, but a much lower rate of fire. When hunting, you are killing one prey at a time. If not, you are not on a hunt, you are on a killings spree. There is no legitimate use of an AR or SMG on a hunt.
Revolt against the government
While this might be a legitimate use of ARs and SMGs, it is suicidal to think that it would actually work. The local police forces across the United States have heavy armored cars these days, and are armed to deal with groups carrying ARs, like school shooters for instance. Should your local police fail, or you have them on your side, the DHS is the next step up. They have heavy vehicles and helicopters. So does the FBI, though they may have a little longer mobilization time. Then you have the Coast Guard and all 4 branches of the armed forces. There is no rule against using them against domestic insurgencies. As a last resort, the president may order tactical nukes against you. The kind of government that you would revolt against would not hesitate to take that step.
Target shooting and sports
ARs and SMGs are not very useful for sharpshooting. They don’t have the precision of hunting rifles or dedicated sports rifles. The only real application they have is in combat shooting, which is a lot like the mass murder scenarios, though you play the good guy in combat shooting. If you really want to do this, then you should join the well organized militia, and do it with their weapons and under their auspices. That way the community can spot the people who shouldn’t be training combat scenarios. Right now anyone can buy a semi automatic AR and train in a remote location or at off hours at the local combat course.
Giving up the modern military guns to reduce the number of people killed in mass murder events would be a very small sacrifice. We already know that a ban on ARs reduces the number of victims in mass shootings. There was a ban in place, which was allowed to lapse. While it was there, the number of casualties were much lower.
Unfortunately I don’t think the American public is ready to put really strict limits on gun ownership, but banning ARs and SMGs would be a small step that would save many lives. Maybe the NRA is afraid that the public might like the effects too much, and that is why they are fighting so hard to keep the mass shootings going.