―Why do you need ‗assault rifles‘ or ‗high-capacity‘ magazines?‖
By Rob Olive
Many of you who read this article will not agree with me. I hope those who don‘t will back up, take a deep breath, and consider my words carefully…while trying to avoid the knee-jerk objections to them that you have heard in the media.

There are few certainties in life, but one of them is that in the debate about gun control, those of us who refuse to relinquish a hard-won right will be called ―uncaring‖ (or worse). So, as a preemptive strike, I will say that a ―solution‖ that amounts to a full frontal assault on the Second Amendment doesn‘t denote ―caring.‖ Rather, it indicates a desire by some people to make themselves feel better for having ―done something.‖

As the father of three boys I cannot begin to imagine the grief and sense of loss that the families of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims must feel. May God comfort them in this incredibly difficult time. That the innocent victims‘ smiles will never again be seen, their voices never again heard, is a tragedy beyond comprehension. But President Obama‘s twenty-three executive actions and the deluge of gun control legislation are focused on the way those innocent children and teachers died. The worst school massacre in U.S. history did not involve firearms. In 1927 in Bath Township, Michigan, Andrew Kehoe set off three separate explosions, killing a total of 44 people— 38 of which were children. Evil is evil, and it must be guarded against and dealt with severely whenever it rears its ugly head. The question we must ask ourselves is this: In a free society, does the presence of evil justify the abrogation of individual liberty? Benjamin Franklin said it best: “Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” I would argue that his words have never rung truer than they do now. For that is precisely what our government will demand of us in the near future—that we give up an Essential Liberty guaranteed to us by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution. Why assault rifles?

friends and even family have posed the question to me as well. Webster‘s defines ―assault rifle‖ as a ―military firearm that is chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and has the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire. ―assault rifles.‖ The first part of this rather straightforward statement has generated much controversy over the years. being necessary to the security of a free State. Some argue that the term ―militia‖ refers to a ―collective‖ or ―states‖ right. by definition. and have been for fifty years. The fact is that twenty and thirty-round magazines are standard capacity for these firearms. while others (myself included) believe that. but function identically to. The best place to start answering the question posed in my title is the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution: ―A well-regulated Militia. the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. by and large. The correct terms are ―semi-automatic‖ firearms and ―standard-capacity‖ magazines. I use ―assault rifle‖ in the title of this article only because that is the term used so often by the uninitiated—and by those with less than honest motives to create hysteria in order to accomplish their political goals. other firearms that have been in existence for over a century. Because my novel Essential Liberty paints a picture of what firearm confiscation in the United States might actually look like. just as with the rest of the Amendments Why assault rifles? . shall not be infringed.‖ They were. semi-automatic firearms that may look different. Similarly. And it‘s a reasonable question…until examined closely.2 Why do you need “assault rifles” or “high-capacity” magazines? With the abject horror of the Connecticut school shooting before us 24/7.‖ The fact that virtually none of the firearms used in any of the tragic shootings over the years were capable of ―fully automatic fire‖ means that they were not. in many cases) to describe ammunition-feeding devices capable of containing more than ten rounds of ammunition. ―high-capacity‖ is often used incorrectly (and purposely. we‘ve all heard some version of this question asked ad nauseam.

as a result of their experience with King George‘s England. George Mason.‖ His warning echoed the general sentiment that at all times American citizens must be prepared (and sufficiently armed) to hold their government at bay.‖ As radical as the idea may sound today.3 within the Bill of Rights. it guarantees an individual right. With that being the case. warned us: ―To disarm the people [is] the best and most effectual way to enslave them. It has every- Why assault rifles? . if necessary.‖ What were the Founders thinking when they drafted that Amendment? Even a cursory examination of history reveals that the mood among the majority of the fledgling country‘s citizens was decidedly against a strong federal government. And the glue that held these protections together was and still is the Second Amendment. A government bent on imposing its will upon them was an important enough issue in the minds of the early Americans that the entire Bill of Rights was written to protect them against such a possibility. one of the driving forces behind the concept of a Bill of Rights to append to the Constitution. one must ask what ―arms‖ would cause the leviathan that is the United States government today to fear its citizens—to hesitate before attempting to impose its will upon them. Despite what we are told by opportunistic politicians. ―the security of a free State‖ was to be guaranteed by ―the right of the people to keep and bear Arms. They feared and distrusted the very government they were creating. That particular point of disagreement. Here is where the biggest misunderstanding about the Second Amendment exists. The more important parts of the Amendment (whether one believes in the individual or collective interpretation) is the assertion that ―the right of the people to keep and bear Arms‖ is ―necessary to the security of a free State. however. the Founders intended for the federal government to fear its citizens. is beyond the scope of this discussion. So important were these first ten Amendments that the Constitution would never have been ratified without them. our Right to Keep and Bear Arms has nothing to do with hunting or self-defense against burglars in our homes. In other words.

A duck-hunting shotgun or bolt-action deer rifle is not. We require a sufficient deterrent for that possibility to be realistic. But a government large enough to do so much for its citizens is also capable of (and possibly inclined toward) doing virtually anything it wants to them. The Founders never intended for civilians to own such weapons. “Yes. but there is no documented desire on the part of the Founders to grant us only the right to keep and bear less effective arms than those possessed by a standing army or police force. consider that never in our history have so many of our citizens depended on our government for so many things (a reality that would have been anathema to our Founders). magazine-fed firearms were not yet a reality in the eighteenth century. that Why assault rifles? . Of course semi-automatic. More than two centuries separate us from the drafting and ratification of these documents. Small arms of the nature described above—fed by the devices they were intended to be used with (erroneously called ―high-capacity‖ magazines)—in the hands of millions of determined Americans are that deterrent. by one means or another. But we must overcome that complacency and realize that our government must be held in check. and the passage of so much time has understandably instilled a sense of complacency in the American people. Though such a possibility seems remote. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were intended to protect us against ―What if?‖ They were put in place as safeguards against the unthinkable.4 thing to do with protecting ourselves from an overreaching federal government. In modern-day America. Therein lies the only real answer to the question posed at the beginning of this treatise: Why do you need assault rifles or high-capacity magazines? The nutshell answer is to instill enough fear in those bent on imposing their will upon us to stop them from doing so. but assault rifles and high-capacity magazines weren’t around when the Second Amendment was written. Their intent was clearly to allow (and even to encourage) the people to keep and bear arms with the same capability as those which might be used against them. even though many of those safeguards may seem unnecessary today.” Let‘s examine that often-heard but inaccurate statement.

after the downtown storefronts are demolished. the reality is that services will eventually have to be cut and benefits reduced or eliminated. If and when such a societal breakdown occurs. the post–Rodney King Los Angeles riots. consider this: The United States is currently more than $16 trillion in debt and that number will grow to at least $22 trillion by 2016. As we‘ve seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. people will become desperate. the possibility of mob violence is very real. and that licensing and registration have led to unspeakable atrocities in the past. the most likely targets for looting would be the suburbs and rural homes. but rather in an attempt to tear away the cobwebs of complacency. but for the purposes of this discussion. and history is replete with examples. Looters would gravitate to where the money and possessions are perceived to be. and where law enforcement—at least what‘s left of it after budgets have been drastically reduced—is virtually non-existent. and desperate people tend to commit acts of desperation. There is simply no other alternative. The point is not that the current United States government intends to do us harm.5 category would certainly include semi-automatic firearms of the type currently at the center of this debate. I offer that possibility not to create fear. That is bad news for a number of reasons. Protecting one‘s family in this kind of situation calls for precisely the types of firearms found in Senator Dianne Feinstein‘s list of guns to be banned. and other instances. As we look for clues as to where that type of violence might occur in the future and what the flashpoint for it might be. but that such a possibility must always be guarded against. Perhaps the most instructive example is how the ―reasonable gun control‖ of Germany‘s Weimar Republic—registration of firearms and licensing of their owners—laid the groundwork for complete disarmament by the Nazis. paving the way for Hitler‘s murder of millions. Such Why assault rifles? . When that occurs. Citizen disarmament is a well-established prerequisite to subjugation. Defense against individuals—especially groups of individuals—intent on doing bodily harm and pillaging is yet another reason for law-abiding citizens to own semi-automatic firearms with standard capacity magazines.

have displayed so often. it‘s what drove us to send a man to the moon. Our independent nature is what caused us to rebel against the awesome power of King George‘s England. and several generations of Americans since. It seems to me that they—and we—can‘t have it both ways. Firearms represent (perhaps better than any other object) the individual liberty that our Founders believed in so deeply and the resolve that they. In doing so. if individual liberty is to remain anything other than an antiquated concept. with absolute certainty. and I have to wonder. and it‘s what calls us to arms when we see oppression around the world and say. rather than owning just squirrel rifles and Why assault rifles? . nor Adam Lanza‘s mother‘s firearms. We must possess arms capable of meeting force with force. is that neither my firearms. ―No more. The independent nature of the American people should not be curtailed in order to make us more like other countries that have less firearm-related violence but also value individual liberty far less than Americans do. we (those of us who choose to) must remain armed. as our nation‘s Founders intended.6 misguided legislation must be opposed for this reason as well as on Constitutional grounds. why? What does such a fascination say about me and millions of others who feel the same way? After all. What I can say. As I sit in my small home office writing this. The independent streak and love for individual liberty that firearms represent is what has made the United States exceptional…a shining light in a world of darkness that other countries have turned to in their time of need. I find myself looking at my gun safe and pondering the future of our country.‖ If one believes in the importance of maintaining our American independent streak. didn‘t instruments like the ones inside my safe cause the tragedy at the root of our current turmoil? Isn‘t it safe to say that without firearms—especially those types of firearms—Sandy Hook and other similar tragedies would never have happened? We can‘t know the answer to that question. over thirty years ago. I‘m reminded of the fascination I‘ve had with firearms since my early teens. caused that tragedy.

In 1960. We should not let the actions of a handful of madmen be used as an excuse to deprive us of our Constitutional rights. Those who would strip law-abiding Americans of the tools required to guarantee liberty need to understand that we will not surrender in the face of emotion and agenda-driven politics.‖ let us all stand firm.com/Essential-Liberty-RobOlive/dp/0985902000/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1344957718&sr=11&keywords=essential+liberty Barnes & Noble (Nook Only): http://www. When we‘re told ―it‘s for your own good. Essential Liberty is available at: Amazon: http://www.7 duck-hunting shotguns. whether it presents itself from within or from without. We must remain capable. Firearms—especially those types of firearms—are critical to keeping the United States truly free. Kennedy reminded us: ―Although it is extremely unlikely that the fears of governmental tyranny which gave rise to the Second Amendment will ever be a major danger to our nation. and refuse to trade liberty for the false promise of safety. as individual citizens. the Amendment still remains an important declaration of our basic civilian-military relationships.amazon.com/w/essential-liberty-robolive/1112116988?ean=2940014827973&isbn=2940014827973 Why assault rifles? . of keeping tyranny at bay.barnesandnoble. For that reason I believe the Second Amendment will always be important. President John F. for the good of the republic we were intended to be. I‘m incapable of saying it any more clearly than President Kennedy did over a half century ago. Rob Olive is the author of Essential Liberty. a novel that presents a disturbing scenario in which firearm confiscation has become a reality in present-day America.‖ Not surprisingly. in which every citizen must be ready to participate in the defense of his country.