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Why American Citizens Need Assault Weapons*

by Network President Marty Hayes, J.D.

A day or two after the Newtown, CT mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I was having an online conversation with one of my nephews, and he said he just couldn’t see why anyone needed a weapon with a magazine that held more than ten rounds. I made the usual arguments, but was frustrated because social media discussions usually take place in a sentence or two, not a 2,000-word treatise. I would have liked to have had such a treatise with which to educate him, so he could consider the rational arguments without all the emotion of the day overriding the thought process.

I suspect more than one or two of our members were in the exact same situation in the days following the shooting, and for this reason, I want to lead this month’s eJournal with an opinion piece on this subject. If it helps clarify your own thoughts on the subject, then I will be pleased. If you choose to share this article with others, either through social media or privately, that would also please me.

In the wake of a self-defense shooting involving a modern semi-automatic rifle or pistol, you will undoubtedly have to answer the same question if you are charged with a crime along with that shooting. You should know how to answer the question, “Why did you need to use an assault weapon, Mr. Defendant?” So, let’s take a look at why American citizens need modern semi-automatic weapons.

One of the overarching themes of the anti-gun movement is that Americans simply do not need these types of weapons. “Why does anyone need a high capacity assault rifle?” After all, high capacity semi-automatic rifles are not used for hunting or sporting purposes, just for killing humans. To which I respond “exactly.”

There are two main reasons and many ancillary ones why a ban on high-capacity, semi-automatic weapons is uncalled for, unnecessary and also unwise.

AR15-upFirst, we must consider the historical perspective of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment was added to the Constitution as an assurance that Americans will never lack the weaponry to fight against their own government, if that government becomes tyrannical. Remember, in the late 1780s the newly formed United States of America had just fought a bloody war against England and King George III’s tyrannical government. In order to gain support for the formation of a central government, the individual states required that the language of the Second Amendment be included in the Constitution, or they would not ratify the Constitution.

Of course, the citizens of the day needed to arm themselves against tyrants with the very same weaponry used by the tyrants. Remember that English rule had become over domineering, leading to the revolutionary war to begin with. The states resolved that no central government should have the ability to enslave them or otherwise control their lives beyond what they were willing to allow, because they could revolt and take down that new government, too. Thomas Jefferson probably put it best, when he said “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” According to our founding fathers, the original, overarching purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that American citizens always had the ability to overthrow the existing government.