The claim that assault weapons, such as AR-15s and AK-47s, are used in the home for self-defense is based on a deeply flawed 1995 study of all guns used as defensive weapons.
Current defensive uses are more telling and reveal that assault weapons are hardly used for self-defensive purposes. The 1995 study claimed that about 2 million self-defense tactics were used, but current studies show that the number of guns used in self-defense was close to zero. The current studies were based on hospital records and included all guns, not just assault weapons.
Yet, the allegedly bankrupt National Rifle Association claims that assault weapons are primarily used for self-defense, but recent credible studies do not bear that out. In fact, assault weapons in the home are more likely to be used against the homeowner.
Unfortunately, that is the current status. Those in favor of gun safety measures cite current statistics; gun owners also cite their favorite study. The issue is not about to be resolved. It is quite controversial, and politicians of all stripes are not about to get involved.
Other NRA claims are also suspect. There is, for example, the claim that one small change to the nation’s gun laws will lead to an eventual ban on all guns — hunting rifles included.
As a teenager, I favored the .22 rifle over the available pistol. When I became an adult, and aided by my experiences in the Army, I put aside my guns. Apparently, there are a number of folks still not wanting to set aside juvenile matters and listen to claims by the NRA. However, it is not juvenile to use rifles and shotguns for hunting purposes.
There is some justification about the use of a pistol for home and personal defense but because this column is about assault weapons, that is an issue for another day. The NRA disputes that, but current credible studies have found that assault weapons are not used for home defense.
Most of the current discussion is about statistics. But as Mark Twain phrased it, “...there are damned lies and statistics.” That may well be true, but it is also possible to cite a statistic that is based on whichever gun safety position is taken.
While most gun owners favor modest changes to gun laws, such as more rigid background checks, the NRA doesn’t reflect the positions of its members. It represents gun manufacturers, who are mostly interested in selling more guns.
Are assault weapons used for home defense or for self-defense? There are credible studies on both sides of this matter. Several studies are recent, but the ones that Second Amendment supporters cite are from at least 20 years ago.
Assault rifles are designed for one purpose: to kill people. It is past time to ban them and to cast a felony offense on people who have them.