Archive for Saturday, October 14, 2017

Letter to the editor: Gun definition

October 14, 2017


To the editor:

I would like to address a corner of the gun debate which the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas has highlighted, but which I have not seen anyone discussing on the news: the definition of what is an assault rifle. The NRA very cynically maintains that assault rifles are not any different from other semi-automatic rifles. They look more sinister somehow, but people who wish to ban them are merely reacting emotionally to their appearance.

Assault rifles differ from other semi-automatics in 2 ways. They are designed to fire in full automatic, and they fire lightweight ammunition. The fins and other projections on assault rifles are designed to cool the weapon in sustained full automatic fire. A hunting rifle cannot fire in semi-automatic for extend periods because it will overheat and jam.

Assault rifles fire lightweight ammunition. My father in WWII carried a limit of 80 heavy bullets because of their weight. In Vietnam soldiers often carried 1,000 lightweight bullets. Assault rifles can fire as fast as you can pull the trigger for extended periods. That’s how one guy with an assault rifle and a pair of gloves was able to shoot over 500 people in one incident.


Bob Smith 6 months, 1 week ago

"...They are designed to fire in full automatic..." After that whopping falsehood, I stopped reading.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Voorhees attempts to define an assault rifle but failed miserably He states, “Assault rifles differ from other semi-automatics in 2 ways. They are designed to fire in full automatic, and they fire lightweight ammunition. The fins and other projections on assault rifles are designed to cool the weapon in sustained full automatic fire.”

No semi-automatic rifles are designed to fire in full automatic. If they were they would be automatic rifles, not semi-automatic. Some semi-automatic weapons may have fins, but Many don’t.

As for lightweight ammunition, Mr. Voorhees again shows his ignorance. Here are some rounds used in semi-automatic rifles, including the AR-15: .300 Blackout, 6.5 Grendel,6.8 SPC,.458 SOCOM and .50 Beowulf - these are large calibers.

I’ve attached a photo of the LV shooter’s rifles. Where are the fins?

Mr. Voorhees should be commended for trying to define an assault rifle, but he should really learn about rifles before trying to define an assault rifle.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Here is a military automatic firing the very heavy .50 caliber. See any fins?

Stu Clark 6 months, 1 week ago

I see cooling fins on both these weapons. They are in the form of a perforated enclosure around the barrel.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Wrong they are not fins. It is a shroud intended to protect the user. It actual interferes with cooling.

Calvin Anders 6 months ago

I think the point of the observation is getting lost in a very technical argument about details. I think the point is many of these "assault" rifles are essentially guns designed to operate in either semiautomatic or full automatic fire, then neutered for the market by making it impossible for them to fire fully auto out of the box. Fins or not, the weapons are often designed to preform well in fully automatic mode. They are designed to keep cool and allow shooters to churn through huge clips and a high rate of speed without overheating. The point Mr. Voorhees makes is that these guns are fully automatic designs in essentially every aspect except for the available firing modes. And whether through firing pin modification or bump stock or belt loop, they can work well as mass killing devices. The argument is that these designs are very different from hunting rifles and claiming that the differences are only cosmetic is an obvious and stupid fabrication.

Justin Hoffman 6 months, 1 week ago

Mr. Voorhees is obviously confused beyond help when it comes to firearms.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

He is a good example of those opposed to the 2nd amendment. They propose definitions and new regultions without realizing they are meaningless when it comes to stopping criminals from getting guns and frankly don’t stop the sale of firearms they were trying to ban.

Ban firearms with fins? Yeah, that will stop the sale of semi-automatic firearms - Not.

Bob Summers 6 months, 1 week ago

Voorhees is a congenital Liberal

How did you expect him to behave?

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

An unmodified AR 15 type rifle being fired with only the assistance of a belt loop.

Instructions on how to bump fire, and why the AR 15 makes it so easy.

Readers, please square these videos with the protestations from those who complain about these weapons being characterized by Mr. Voorhees as being full automatic.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Very simple - they are not designed to fire in full automatic. They have no full automatic mode.

Obviously this doesn’t mean that people can redesign them to be automatics or even fire them in a manner that simulates the rate of fire of an automatic weapon by just using their finger. But they are not designed to be automatic weapons - there are already laws regulating owning rifles designed to be automatic fire.

Here is the fact that people seem to miss. The LV murderer could have bought a full automatic rifle Laws only regulate food law abiding people.

Are you going to ban shotguns too since they can be fired rapidly? Give me an example of the law you’d write to prevent the rapid fire of semiautomatic rifles without banning all of them?

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

I realize that you have made up your mind that the distinction between a fully automatic rifle and a semi auto being used to simulate full automatic fire is pretty huge. The first responders in the Las Vegas shooting reported that they were under fire from automatic weapons. While they were under fire, it did not make much difference if it was a bump stock or some other manner of "simulating" full automatic fire.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

You’re right it didn’t matter if it was an automatic rifle or a semi-auto being fired rapidly. It was a horrible tragedy I’d like to prevent in the future, but not by promoting erroneous definitions. Words, especially in law matter.

You can rapidly fire a semi-automatic rifle without a bumpstock or belt loop, just pulling the trigger rapidly to simulate the rate of fire of an automatic rifle so are you going to ban all semi-auto rifles?

Do you not agree that Voorhees was wrong when he said a semi-auto assault rifle is designed to fire automatically? Isn’t it important to accurately state facts when defining something?

Again, tell me how you’d stop the rapid fire of semi-auto rifles? Are you going to ban semi-auto shotguns too?

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

My comments was intended to point out the apparent dissonance between the oft stated position that the AR 05 and its variants is a semiautomatic and the reality that it can simulate full automatic fire. If you look at the advertising for accessories, it is pretty evident that those involved in marketing are fully aware of the demand for this feature. an example is located at

Please note that the manufacturer of this highly rated 50 round magazine tout that it is rated for "full automatic fire"

You have presented a couple of "whtatabouts" including an 8 round revolver [yes, it can be rapily fired, but is hardly an equivalent to an AR 15 with a 50 round magazine]; you also wanted to compare a generic "shotgun." I would be interested if there is one with the ammunition capacity and and range of an AR 15 with a 50 or 100 round magazine. I therefore conclude that these are false equivalents. .

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

They are not false equivalents as I have never said they are the same. I point to them as examples of guns that can fire rapidly in attempt to make you and other understand that you can’t “define” a solution in a manner narrow enough to be constitutional.

I’m still waiting for your law that will fix this without banning all semi-autos and other weapons including shotguns and revolvers.

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

If they are not a false equivalent, then the argument it is a distraction from the topic of automatic rifle fire, real or simulated.

I will let you have the last word on this particular item. We will agree to disagree.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

You gave me the last word because you have no response to my question about what law you’d propose to fix the situation.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

What do you think about Voorhees definition including fins and light ammo? He is ignorant about firearms and deserves to be corrected.

While we are at it, are you going to ban revolvers too?

The fact is firearms can be used for good or bad and unless your completely ban all firearms, confiscate all firearms and prevent them from entering our country you’re not going to stop firearm deaths. So better to focus on the cause of the violence if you really want to stop gun deaths. Mental health care, strong and long prison sentences and promote gun safety and training.

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

"Laws only regulate food [sic] law abiding people"..

This oft stated position has at least two working fallacies.

First, it is circular reasoning. Criminals violate laws. Yes, that is true, but it is also the very reason that we have laws, Laws set a standard for conduct, and then provide for remedies when the law is not followed. It is interesting that firearms regulation is the only body of law to which this argument is routinely applied.

Second, it is an appeal to futility. The argument implies that there is absolutely nothing that can be done in the form of firearms regulation that would improve public safety. It wants the reader to ignore that there is evidence which supports that smart gun safety regulation does result in lower gun death rates.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Well William, please tell me what your legislative constitutional solution is.

Laws criminalizing something do not prevent the crime from being committed but serve to deter some who fear prosecution and penalty and simply to penalize others.

There are already laws against murder, etc., where you can’t discharge a firearm, etc so why do we need anymore?

The new batch of laws are feeble attempts to prevent crime and that isn’t possible as only good law abiding people will follow them, but again, do tell what your new magic gullet law is.

If you can’t then you’ve just been shooting with blanks :)

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

The US should take a strong research based approach, treating gun violence as the public health problem that it is. In this manner, targeted interventions could be planned, studied, and tested. Emphasis should be placed on outcomes based research. While we will not end all firearm violence, we may well be able to have an impact on long term outcomes, The targeted interventions may well be something that none of us have thought of yet. You don't know what you don't know.

One key area of interest would be the manner in which firearms get into the hands of criminals. Firearms do not come popping out of the sky, and our broken system of laws does not effectively identify how they so quickly become involved in crimes. Legislation such as the Tiahrt amendment [an outrageous provision that only benefits criminals] hamstring us from effective research, and politicians make sure that we do not have effective laws to address the issue.

Fifty years ago, we did not know what child safety seats would work best. Without effective research, we never would have found out, and tomorrow's solution may well be better than the one we have today because of ongoing research. Gun violence research should be given the same emphasis.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Agree with research but since you are not able to put forth a law I assume you have no legislative solution at this time.

And since we don't know what we don't know we shouldn't be passing new laws on guns until we understand the cause of gun violence.

I can live with that.

William Cummings 6 months, 1 week ago

The correct legislative path is to establish a form of evidence based governance. It starts by removing blocks to evidence based governance including the Tihart amendment [which I specifically mentioned] and the Dickey amendment.

We currently have evidence that some measures can work. For example, in the 19 states that require background checks for handguns, there are 47% fewer women killed by their intimate partners, 53% fewer law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty, and 47 % fewer suicides. While correlation is not causation, evidence like this should be the subject of research to find out what targeted interventions can be beneficial. I do not know if it is the background check or something else that causes the improved level of safety. But the bottom line is we should be finding out. At present, congress, at the behest of the NRA and the arms manufacturers, is stymieing efforts to do so,

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Federal law requires FFL dealers to conduct background checks for handgun sales in all states.

Again you state you don’t know the cause of gun deaths and what will reduce them. I agree - research it, but don’t pass laws not based on fact that serve only to keep guns out of the hands of law abiding people.

You fail to understand that the LTE writer’s attempt to define assault weapons is to ban them. My point is you cannot narrowly define what an assault weapon is and thus, any legislation will either be ineffective or unconstitutional.

William Cummings 6 months ago

I am fully aware that FFL sales require background checks for handguns. The difference i was speaking to is that the states with the lowered violence statistics required the checks for all sales, including private. Again, this difference may not be the causal fact. We should be working to find out.

While you may not lie the definition of an "assault weapon" that was used in the federal assault weapons ban, the courts did weigh in on the issue. Complaints that the definitions were not adequate were easily dismissed.

Likewise, the issue of the constitutionality of assault weapons bans have been thus far upheld by the SCOTUS. Until that day, they remain constitutional.

Of the top 10 states with the strongest gun laws, 7 have the lowest gun violence rates. This is evidence and an opportunity that should not be ignored.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 1 week ago

Does it really matter. These guns can kill a lot of people really fast. They are only for killing people. Why would a true hunter need one of these? How many people could he have killed with the kind of guns that were available when they the 2nd amendment was written?

Bob Smith 6 months, 1 week ago

"...They are only for killing people..." You've never heard of target shooting or hunting? You aren't really that obtuse, are you?

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 6 months, 1 week ago

If you are hunting with a gun that can fire several rounds quickly, you are a wimpy hunter.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Most hunters, especially ethical hunters, hunt with shotguns, revolvers and rifles that hold more than one round so they can quickly and humanely kill an animal if the first round was not sufficient.

Plus, it doesn’t matter since the Constitution does not limit the right to bear arms for hunting only. Yes, people do own weapons intended to kill for legitimate self defense purposes.

Bob Smith 6 months, 1 week ago

Because going to personal insults is all you have left.

Andrew Applegarth 6 months, 1 week ago

Automatic weapons date back at least to the 4th century BC with the Chinese repeating or 'continuous crossbow'. Although different in concept, volley guns date back at least to the 14th century. To say that the founding fathers would have no idea that arms would continue to advance from the musket would be ignorant. After all, the Continental Congress ordered 100 Belton Flintlock repeaters in 1777 (although they cancelled the order when they saw the bill). While automatic weapons were in their infancy and not truly comparable to the ones produced today, it would be asinine to believe that the 2nd Amendment only applies to muskets as there were so many multi-shot arms already in existence. Here is a small sampling:

Belton Flintlock - 16-20 round 'Roman Candle' style repeater
Puckle Gun - 6-11 shots per swappable cylinder
Girardoni Air Rifle - 30 shots per swappable air reservoir
Nock Gun - 7 barrel volley weapon
Pepper-Box Revolver - 3 or more barrels that rotate to the firing mechanism
Kalthoff Repeater - separate tubes for powder and ball held 6 - 30 rounds
Cookson Repeater - drum with separate chambers for powder and ball held 7 shots

That doesn't even touch on the fact that mortars, howitzers, and cannons (firing solid, exploding, incendiary, or scatter shot) were privately owned arms at the time and thus should be covered by the 2nd Amendment.

Hand Grenades - Yes, hand tossed exploding ordinance.
Hand Mortar - fused grenade launcher
Swivel Gun - a cannon small enough to be mounted on a swivel for easy aiming

Bob Summers 6 months, 1 week ago

Then there is this old military favorite.

This is my rifle. This is my gun. This is for shooting. This is for fun.

Is it any wonder why the Liberal calls it a "gun", as in their code phrase favorite "gun nut"? I think the code is a signal for their fellow Liberals to see who is on board with their gaiety .

Bob Smith 6 months, 1 week ago

It seems to remain unclear exactly how many of the injured were actually struck by bullets. "...More injuries were caused by gunfire than by other causes, according to numbers obtained by Newsweek, though the ratio was lower than some might have expected. At Sunrise Hospital, 124 of the 199 victims had gunshot wounds (or about 62 percent), according to a spokeswoman. At the Dignity Health hospitals, 37 of the 79 victims had gunshot wounds (or about 46 percent), according to a spokeswoman.
The “majority” of the victims brought to Valley Health Systems hospitals were injured by gunfire, according to a spokeswoman who couldn’t provide more specific numbers. A University Medical Center spokeswoman would not release any information about how the patients brought there were injured. "There's a wide range of injuries, from gunshots to shrapnel wounds to trample injuries to people jumping fences, trying to egress and getting hurt," Clark County Fire Chief Greg Castle said at a news conference the day after the shooting, according to CNN..." Had the shooter not been using the bump stocks that made it very difficult to fire accurately, the death toll might well have been higher.

Greg Cooper 6 months ago

I tried to stay out of this, but you have made the most transparently stupid remark on this subject, ever. Indeed, if he had not been using an item made simply and wholly to kill and injure more people in a shorter time, the death toll might have been higher? Are you friggin' kidding me, Bob? Well, thank God for bump stocks, otherwise more people might have been injured? Really? Then, the only answer is to make all guns and rifles fully automatic so fewer folks will be injured in shootings.

Why don't you guys just admit you don't want the guvmint taking away your hard-won freedom to own whatever implement of destruction you choose, and be honest about it?

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

I’ve noticed that those that want to reduce gun deaths through regulation are unable to articulate a gun control law that will work.

Mr. Voorhees tried to define an assault rifle ostensibly to ban them but failed.

You cannot reduce gun deaths by adding a new gun control regulation that is constitutional. We need to address the root of gun deaths. Mental health access to reduce suicides and with reporting to the background database to limit access/purschase of firearms by those that should not possess them.

We also have to keep violent offenders in jail for their full sentence while also providing counseling and other training to help rehabilitate them.

P Allen Macfarlane 6 months, 1 week ago

A can of worms once opened can only be contained by a larger can. Abuse of the Second Amendment was the can opener and fear is the motive.

Richard Aronoff 6 months, 1 week ago

From the Washington Post - 10/8/17:

“Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), a longtime advocate of stricter gun laws and author of the 1993 ban on assault weapons, said the shooter, Stephen Paddock, legally acquired the arsenal he used to carry out the attack. Asked by CBS's “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson whether any law could have stopped him, Feinstein said, “No. He passed background checks registering for handguns and other weapons on multiple occasions.”

Richard Aronoff 6 months, 1 week ago

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed's understanding of the 2nd amendment is lacking. The 2nd amendment was not included in the constitution to ensure that everyone had the ability to go hunting. It was included to protect the people from the government, having lived under the tyrannical rule of the British crown. The rights to life and liberty include the right to self-defense.

But Dorothy is right about the need for hunters to have large capacity semi-automatic weapons. I hunted for many years and I can assure you if you miss with the first shot you are very likely to miss with the second, with the exception of certain types of waterfowl. The states where I hunted waterfowl required a semi-auto shotgun to be plugged to limit it to three rounds.

Brock Masters 6 months, 1 week ago

Also, there are limitations on rounds in a firearm when hunting so high capacity mags for hunting is a moot issue.

I was just hunting and a hunter hit the animal, but it got up and he fired again to kill it. He was using a AR15 type weapon, but bolt action. There is often a need for a follow up shot.

Bob Summers 6 months, 1 week ago

The trick is keeping firearms out of Liberals hands. Look what they are doing in South Chicago. Las Vegas. etc etc etc

Doug Larson 6 months, 1 week ago

"The 2nd amendment was not included in the constitution to ensure that everyone had the ability to go hunting. It was included to protect the people from the government, having lived under the tyrannical rule of the British crown.". But.....most of these killings aren't being made to protect the people from the government. I wonder if there should be some kind of 'red flag' that should be raised when a person is buying many weapons in a short period of time. If the LV shooter bought the guns legally then he should already be on the register of legal gun owners. It would be easy enough to modify the system to alert officials that this person is stock piling weapons.

Bob Smith 6 months, 1 week ago

"...If the LV shooter bought the guns legally then he should already be on the register of legal gun owners..." In most of the country, states don't keep a register of legal gun owners.

Bob Summers 6 months, 1 week ago

But.....most of these killings aren't being made to protect the people from the government


But, all of these killers are under the influence of DRD4 gene polymorphism.

Red flag these types of people and ban firearms from these people to save lives.

Possibly a cursive letter L tattooed to the forehead of people testing positive for the Liberal gene for easy identification.

Doug Larson 6 months, 1 week ago

My mistake. I thought you had to be a registered gun owner. Registered thru a background check. And I didn't mean ban guns from these people. Just maybe a friendly visit from the local police to make sure the stockpile of guns is for hunting!

P Allen Macfarlane 6 months, 1 week ago

Why should only a part of the population be armed and most untrained. Let's arm everybody and make sure they are also untrained. It's more fun that way.

Bob Smith 6 months ago

The hyperbole is strong with this one.

Nate Upchurch 6 months ago

I hate showing up late to the party. The vast majority who fight for "gun control" are uneducated on how guns work. That's the unfortunate side of things. Assault is an action, not a type of weapon. Whether you ban bump stocks, "silencer's" or anything else the NRA is not to blame for Vegas, just like Budweiser isn't to blame for a DUI.

I love how the majority who are for gun control, and blaming the NRA are quick to blame the guns not the individual doing the shooting. Why do you blame the NRA? The type of weapons this man used? Why not blame him? My favorite phrase used by those who are against guns is, "Guns kill people." No, they damn sure don't. You may as well say "Spoons make you fat." Doesn't make sense does it?

Mass shootings such as the latest in Vegas are horrific, and something needs to be done. Making rules to ban the sales of bump stocks, silencers and "assault weapons" is doing to stop zero. I'm not sure what the solution is, but back ground checks, gun bans, etc. will do nothing.

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