First things first. If we're going to ban an assault rifle, then we'd better find one, right? So, is this an assault rifle?
Nah. This is called a ranch rifle. The mechanical design of this gun is nearly 80 years old. This rifle has been carried in the back of pick-up trucks, over hunters' shoulders, and in scabbards slung from saddles for decades. It fires an intermediate round (really a beefed-up .22 caliber) and has probably shot more coyotes on sheep ranches, converted more deer into venison, and cleared more cattle grazing land of prairie dogs than almost any rifle ever made. It is inexpensive, yet accurate enough out of the box for the job it needs to do, even with its fairly rough and ready iron sights. You have to pull the trigger each time you want it to fire a single round. It is designed to fire under adverse conditions like the snow and mud with which ranchers and hunters often contend.
So, not an assault rifle and we won't be banning that one.
Ah, but what about this one?
This rifle, in tactical black, is a semi-auto civilian version of the automatic rifle that American troops first carried into Vietnam and which some military snipers use today. It has a collapsible stock to make it easier to transport and to adjust to differing tactical circumstances. It can be fitted with a 30-round magazine and a bi-pod, if your tactical circumstances dictate. It fires the same round that most of our troops are carrying now in Afghanistan. It can be made highly accurate. Its tactical* accessory rails allow it to be fitted with powerful optics, weapon lights or even night-vision capable sights. It is in use by police and armed forces across the world.
So that one must be the assault rifle, right?
Sorry, no. We won't be banning this one either. An assault rifle is a select fire military rifle capable of firing fully automatic fire; pull of the trigger and the bullets keep coming out of the business end until you stop pulling the trigger. This rifle is semi-automatic only. You have to pull the trigger each time you want it to fire a single round.
Hey. Wait just a New York Minute.** "You have to pull the trigger each time you want it to fire a single round." Isn't that just what I said about the ranch rifle? What's going on here?
Now, at this point, the more gun savvy among you have concluded that I am cheating. In my defense, I did say at the outset that were were playing a game I created. My game, my rules and one of Robert's Rules is "Who writes the rules, wins the game."
The two rifles pictured here -- the friendly, traditional brown one and the evil black one -- are precisely the same rifle, except that the action and the barrel wear different furniture in each picture. Both variants of the rifle pictured fire the same cartridge, in exactly the same way, at exactly the same rate, to exactly the same effect. They are equally as deadly or useful, equally as capable of being used for good or for evil. They are, simply, the same. And banning the lower one is just as damned silly as banning the upper one.
If this is confusing to you, this notion that a thing is still the same thing despite the mode of its dress, consider what you are wearing now, what you will wear tomorrow and how profoundly or superficially this changes your actual identity.
Or, if you prefer, consider this fellow . . .
. . . and this fellow . . .
. . . and kindly tell me, which one you want to ban.****
* That is four "tacticals," in case you have not been keeping count.
** Which Mayor Bloomberg has decided is simply too long, at 60 seconds. He has introduced an ordinance with his pet city counsel to create the "Bloomberg Minute," which will last either 50 seconds, or the amount of time he spends considering the concept of liberty each day, whichever is less.
*** Gen. George S. Patton called the M1 Garand "the greatest battle implement ever devised." This from a guy who commanded an armored corps and has a tank named after him.
**** No fair pointing out that Clooney himself would probably approve if that version of "Batman" were kept out of the hands of the public.