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America: In guns we trust(barf alert) ^ | 15 September, 2012 | Bill Schiller

Posted on 09/16/2012 5:09:04 AM PDT by marktwain

LAS VEGAS—The ad is pure Vegas and smacks you in the face moments after stepping off the plane at McCarran International Airport.

“TRY ONE!” the golden poster featuring the gun-toting blond shouts. “SHOOT A REAL MACHINEGUN!”

She stands in front of a display booth filled with high-powered weapons — Uzis, Thompsons, M-16s — and wields a huge gun herself, cocked high and equipped with a large capacity clip.

Las Vegas might be many things. But it has never been subtle.

Next morning, The Gun Store’s parking lot at 2900 East Tropicana is full.

By 10 a.m. the lineup is out the door: honeymooners, college students, bachelorette parties — pink AK-47s await them inside — and, on this morning, a wedding party.

Anticipation and a giddy celebration of gun culture prevail.

From the back of the line, you can hear the muffled sound of automatic gunfire inside. It sounds like popcorn.

The Gun Store is an American institution, a temple for gun enthusiasts and the curious alike. Shooters as young as 6 have been allowed in, provided they are accompanied by a parent.

Last year more than 12 million bullets let fly on site.

CNN calls a shooting spree here one of the “Top 10 classic American experiences.”

Every year more than 100,000 people lay down millions of dollars — anywhere from $25 to $777 for a top-of-the-line package — to fulfill their fantasy of cutting loose with a high-powered gun.


“Because it’s cool,” says store owner Bob Irwin.

But beyond this parking lot, here in this season of American gun fantasy gone wrong, a heightened state of anxiety grows.

Already this year 97 people have been killed or wounded in mass shootings across the United States, one of the highest casualty counts in a decade. (Technically, the FBI requires at least four dead before an incident can officially be labelled a “mass” shooting.)

Most have died from powerful semi-automatic weapons.

While fully automatic weapons — popularly known as “machine-guns” — are strictly controlled, requiring finger printing and a minimum 120-day wait, semi-automatic weapons are easily obtained.

And gun control advocates say it is these “semis” that are causing the problem.

The key difference between fully automatic and semi-automatics is trigger pull.

A fully automatic fires continuously with one, sustained pull of the trigger.

A semi-automatic requires repeated trigger pulling. But with a large-capacity magazine of bullets that allows a swift, hands-free, mechanical reload, a shooter firing a semi-automatic can get off 50 to 60 shots a minute — enough to cause mayhem.

To get your hands on a semi in most states, you only need to pass a computerized background check that normally takes minutes — and money. Popular semi-automatic handguns such as the Beretta 9-mm sell for $449.

Popular semi-automatic rifles such as the Smith and Wesson MP-15 retail for less than $1,000.

But with the casualty count rising, gun control advocates are once again trying to wrestle the gun lobby to the ground.

They want President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney — in their opening presidential debate on Oct. 3 — to tell America what they intend to do to stop gun violence.

That debate will take place in Denver, just 10 kilometres from where the worst gun carnage of the year erupted on July 20.

In the suburb of Aurora, a heavily armed James Holmes donned a mask and bulletproof vest — and a crotch protector — and opened fire on a crowd of midnight moviegoers who had gone to see the Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

When he stopped, 12 were dead and 58 wounded: 70 casualties in what survivors estimated to be about 120 seconds.

Holmes was carrying a semi-automatic AR-15 once banned under federal law. According to reports, he also had a 100-round ammo clip.

The law that banned the AR-15 expired in 2004.

Now some want it back.

“It feels like the country is under siege,” says Ellen B. Davis, a Phoenix lawyer and mother of two who has launched an online petition to reinstate the ban on assault weapons. “Why should we allow people to have a gun that can kill so many people in a very short period of time? What is the social utility of having that gun out in public?”

As July 20 wore on and radio and TV commentators weighed in, Davis had what she calls her Network moment — she was “mad as hell “and “not going to take it anymore.”

“The commentary during Aurora got to me,” says Davis. “They were saying, ‘This is terrible. This is a tragedy. But we can’t do anything about it. We have to accept it.’

“My response was: ‘No we don’t.’”

She is infuriated by the suggestion that Americans can’t even discuss the issue because the Second Amendment enshrines the right to bear arms.

“Any law,” she stresses, “must be a balance between public safety and individual liberty.”

She launched her petition the day of the Aurora attack.

Why “assault weapons,” defined by gun-control advocates as automatic or semi-automatic guns with magazines of 10 or more rounds?

“Because the more assault weapons there are, the more people who are going to get shot. And the more people who get shot, the more who are going to die.”

Her petition, online at, has 97,409 signatures as of this writing, a number roughly equal to the number of Americans who are shot every year: 97,820 or 268 every day.

In some countries that would be called a war zone.

In America, it is daily life.

At high noon at The Gun Store, range master Mike Rogers and I don soundproof headgear and goggles, grab a paper target — “it’s always more fun when you have something to shoot at,” says Mike — and enter the store’s brand-spanking-new $1.2-million gun range.

The Gun Store used to use Osama bin Laden’s image as a target. But with bin Laden gone, the supplier no longer makes them. Now it is zombies-in-helmets season.

The back corridor linking the 30 new shooting lanes doubles as a Hall of Fame for some of the world’s most famous gun makers. There’s a bio and photo of the handsome-looking Mikhail Kalashnikov in jacket and tie, Russian inventor of the AK-47, arguably the most popular assault rifle on Earth; another of Israeli Uzi Gal, designer of the submachine-gun that bears his name. And then there is Sam Colt, the gun world’s version of Henry Ford: Colt made mass production of handguns in America possible.

“God made all men equal,” quips Mike. “But Sam Colt really made them equal.”

From a tray, Mike pulls a Glock 19 semi-automatic handgun together with a 15-round clip and carefully instructs me on how to hold it with both hands.

It’s a little like gripping a golf club — but different.

“It’s basically designed from the ground up as a combat gun,” Mike offers.

“Extend your arms. Be a little aggressive,” he says. “Now, lean into the gun. Feel good?”

“Concentrate on that front gun site and fire when ready.”

Even with my earphones on, the range resonates with gunfire.

I squeeze the trigger with the requisite half-pound of pressure and nudge it back just a half-inch.

The gun explodes.

I’m surprised by its kick.

More surprisingly, my hands are sweating.

“Good job,” says Mike.

I squeeze off nine more shots in progressively quick succession, then lay down the gun.

“Want to shoot an M4?” asks Mike.

We move to the M4 — on both semi-automatic and fully automatic — and eventually to the AR-15, the AK-47 and other guns.

In a booth beside me, a young blond woman blasts away with a .44 Magnum.

She is giddy with excitement.

Finished, Mike and I move toward the exit and the retail shop — where high-quality AR-15s sell for $1,374.99 — but not before another Hall of Famer jumps out. America’s William Ruger.

“He designed a number of guns,” explains Mike. “But he was controversial.”

Ruger died in 2002. But in 1989 he wrote the U.S. Congress saying large-capacity magazines — like the 100-round magazine James Holmes had attached to his AR-15 in Aurora — ought to be banned.

Ruger didn’t think it was necessary for civilians to have rifles capable of firing so many bullets.

“He has been a pariah in the gun business ever since.”

On the wall behind his desk, Gun Store owner Bob Irwin has a sales chart with an arc that looks like a javelin shot into space — a javelin that shows no signs of returning to earth.

The gun business — both the shooting range and the sale of guns — is booming here.

Last year, the store’s revenues rocketed well past $10 million.

“In fact, sales have gone up 15 per cent every year for the last six or seven years,” says Irwin, 68, an avuncular man with a knack for storytelling.

Typically, 70 per cent of the store’s revenues come from the range; the balance from the sale of guns and other items, including “My Mommy shoots better than your Mommy” T-shirts.

For special automatic and semi-automatic gun “packages,” visitors pay anywhere from $99.95 for 95 shots with a rifle and pistol to a Vegas VIP package featuring 21 guns for $777.

For the kids there’s a $40 package using .22s.

Celebrity Americans come here in droves. Bad-boy New York chef Anthony Bourdain and his wife dropped in last month. The actress Cher has been a regular. Mike Tyson, Newt Gingrich, Ted Nugent — even Marie Osmond — all have a place on the store’s “Wall of Fame.”

But in America, Vegas isn’t exceptional in its love of guns.

This is the world’s undisputed “Guns ’R Us” nation. Last year U.S. national gun sales topped $4.3 billion. And while some studies show a declining number of guns in America, Gallup reports that 47 per cent of American adults keep a gun in their home.

Most estimates peg the total number of guns in America today at between 285 million and 300 million — not quite enough for one gun for every one of America’s 311 million citizens, but close.

Of course, not every American owns a gun. On the other hand, some own hundreds.

And who does and who doesn’t isn’t obvious. With only a few restrictions, Americans with a permit can carry concealed guns in every state in the union, except Illinois.

Some pack guns in their underwear, using the trademarked “Thunderware.”

“How many times have you said, ‘There’s got to be a better way to carry a concealed gun?’” the company website asks. “Tired of having to pull your pants up all the time?”

Still, there are few examples that bring together America’s love of cars with its love of guns as well as Max Motors. Every year, the Missouri car dealer offers customers “one free AK-47” for every new truck purchased.

Meanwhile, in Vegas “gun fun” is a growth industry. Once the only game in town, The Gun Store now has a half-dozen copycat competitors, among them, “Guns 4 Fun,” “The Vegas Machine Gun Experience,” located — somewhat forebodingly — on Dean Martin Drive. And in nearby Boulder City, there is the “Pro Gun Club,” which boasts “the only 50 Cal in Vegas.”

But The Gun Store maintains an edge, Irwin insists.

“We understand that we’re actually running Disneyland here.”

Irwin’s hair has thinned somewhat since 1982 when he first teamed up with Chuck Traynor, a noted pornographer, to found the first iteration of the business, known then as The Survival Store.

As Irwin tells it, Traynor showed up at Irwin’s gunsmithing shop one afternoon with Traynor’s then-wife, the porn star Marilyn Chambers, and proposed a partnership in which Traynor would put up the money and Irwin his gun expertise.

“Christmas parties were interesting. Chuck’s friends were bikers, porn queens and mob people. Mine were mostly police.”

They split in 1988 and The Gun Store was born.

Today, Traynor and Chambers are dead, but Irwin is very much alive. He is running as a Republican candidate for the Arizona state assembly on Nov. 6.

A photo of Mitt Romney and Irwin adorns one wall. A bumper sticker on his desk reads: “DEFEND FREEDOM. DEFEAT OBAMA.”

An ardent advocate for the Second Amendment, America’s hallowed right to bear arms, Irwin says many Americans are afraid Obama will pass tighter gun laws if re-elected.

“People are saying, ‘I’m afraid that with the shootings, the government is going to restrict my access to firearms. So I’m getting a gun now.’”

The National Rifle Association seized on such concerns early, sending out letters seeking donations just three days after the Aurora killings, including in the state of Colorado.

But why would any one need a gun that fires 60 rounds a minute — or 600 rounds a minute?

“We don’t have to prove to the government that we need something. In America we have the right,” Irwin stresses.

Irwin owns 200 machine-guns, “and God knows how many semi-automatic, large-capacity things.”

And he hasn’t shot anyone. Ever.

“Guns are a great tool for criminals,” the aspiring politician says. “They are a greater tool for self-defence.”

On Sunday morning, near Phoenix, legions of people — including mothers with babies — wend their way to the Glendale gun show, one of 5,000 gun shows held every year in America.

This one at the University of Phoenix Stadium is a gun enthusiast’s field of dreams, filled with dealers and traders with enough guns and ammo to take on some developing countries — countless semi-automatic weapons, rounds of ammunition, accessories, silencers, night vision optics, you name it.

Outlaw Larry’s, a licensed Arizona dealer, is selling a semi-automatic Smith and Wesson MP-15 .223 with a 30-round magazine for $999.99.

Desert Fox Outfitters, LLC, of Wickenburg, Ariz., is selling semi-automatic AK-47s for $799.99. You can also buy parts.

But there is also the unmistakable feel of politics in the room. There are postcards of the president painted in ghoulish whiteface with the word “socialist” across it; and Obama’s famous campaign poster with the word “HOPE” has been altered, with the “H” replaced with a “D.”

Nearby at a booth staffed by the National Association for Gun Rights — sometimes called “The NRA with teeth” — is a photograph of Hillary Clinton waving in what looks like a Nazi salute. The sign says “Join the Fight to Stop Hillary’s Global Gun Grab.” The association wants to halt Clinton’s efforts to endorse the UN-backed small arms treaty that seeks to stop the flow of small arms worldwide.

A UN flag is tacked to the floor so that passersby can wipe their feet on it.

“Want to tell Hillary to go to hell?” a friendly senior citizen with a clipboard asks would-be petitioners.

Derek Granquist smells a grand conspiracy. The 30-year-old NAGR volunteer from Colorado says the UN treaty is just “cover” for an Obama plan to tighten controls on guns.

He’s against the treaty, against the renewal of an assault weapons ban and against anything that might restrict any American’s access to guns.

“Can’t have an assault weapon?” he says incredulously. “Well then, what’s next? Can’t have a high-powered rifle? Can’t have a high-powered handgun? Where exactly does it stop? This is a slippery slope.

“The criminal is going to have his weapon of choice. We should too.

“If I think that I need a machine-gun for my defence, under the Second Amendment I have the right to have it.”

End of story.

At a booth selling custom T-shirts for female shooters, not far from the gun show exit, is Sandi Keller. She is bright, friendly, articulate and completely committed.

A 45-year-old mother of four who fell in love with guns the moment her husband took her to a shooting range last year, she says she “gets” why Americans are attracted to big, powerful semi-automatic weapons.

It’s not complicated, she says.

“In America, bigger is always better. And the mindset is that semi-automatic guns hold more bullets than a revolver. You can reload faster.

“If a guy is going to try to overtake me, the odds are in his favour. It’s just a human fact. I’m 5-foot-6 and 116 pounds. So I better have enough bullets to protect me and my family and not have to reload.”

Keller got a concealed-weapons permit only this year.

Her “daily carry” is a semi-automatic, 9-mm Colt Defender.

Her conversion to guns came after a little reading.

“I just started reading and researching and learning a little more about society — and not living so much in my little cocoon, you know?

“And I started getting a little scared.”

She says her 16-year-old daughter is taking shooting and safety lessons now.

She had a little bit of a problem with a stalker recently.

“I just want to make sure she can defend herself if she has to.”

A gun glossary

In America, even gun terminology can be controversial:

AUTOMATIC WEAPON: Any gun that can shoot bullets continuously with a single and sustained pull of the trigger. These are sometimes called “fully automatics” to distinguish them from “semi-automatics.”

SEMI-AUTOMATIC WEAPON: Any gun that ejects a shell casing after a bullet is fired and mechanically loads the next bullet ready for firing — without any human action. Unlike automatic or “fully automatic” guns, semi-automatics require repeated pulls of the trigger. One pull of the trigger will fire one bullet.

MAGAZINE: A container, sometimes called a “clip,” that can be a fixed part of a gun or snapped into a semi or fully automatic weapon and contains bullets that will then be mechanically loaded into the gun chamber for firing.

LARGE CAPACITY MAGAZINE: Normally, a container or “clip” that contains more than 10 bullets for either semi or fully automatic weapons. Some containers may hold up to 100 bullets that can be shot in either semi-automatic or fully automatic mode, depending on the gun.

ASSAULT WEAPON: Gun advocates call this “a political term,” but many gun-control advocates define it as any automatic or semi-automatic weapon with military-style features that can take a magazine or ammo clip holding more than 10 bullets. Gun advocates bristle at the term “assault,” insisting guns are for recreation or self-defence only.

MACHINE-GUN: Normally a large caliber rifle or mounted rifle, that is capable of continuously firing bullets with a single, sustained pull of the trigger.

SUBMACHINE-GUN: An automatic weapon, smaller than a normal machine gun, that fires bullets normally used in pistols, with a single, sustained pull of the trigger.

Bill Schiller

TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events; Philosophy
KEYWORDS: banglist; constitution; lasvegas; machinegun
Of course, the Canadian author never mentions the political reasons for an armed population. He gives lots of space to dubious assertions of the number of people shot in the U.S., framed to indicate that it could all stop, if only we controlled guns like other countries, while he gives no numbers for people saved with guns or those killed by governments where guns are forbidden to ordinary people.
1 posted on 09/16/2012 5:09:16 AM PDT by marktwain
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To: marktwain

How many people were killed at the shooting ranges? or by machine guns?

What is Mr Shill to do when terrorist thugs take over his town, beg gunowners to do something about it?

2 posted on 09/16/2012 5:14:35 AM PDT by GeronL (The Right to Life came before the Right to Pursue Happiness)
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To: marktwain

Last night I was admiring my local Walmart for their growing supply of AR15s. Collection included Colt, DPMS, Sig Sauer, others.

3 posted on 09/16/2012 5:59:27 AM PDT by ctdonath2 ($1 meals:
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To: GeronL


With all this stuff written by a non-American, (Canada AIN”T America!), who has something akin to a “deep fetish” over automatic and semi-automatic firearms, it makes me happy to be a person that likes “wheelguns”. (If we remember, it was a semi-automatic rifle that was praised by Gen. G. S. Patton, as the rifle that won the war.)

I mean, by the author’s full attention brought to bear on other styles of firearms, you would think that the firearms that I enjoy reading about, don’t exist, anymore! Oh yes, the author made the Sam Colt reference, but he botched that quote very well.

If one were to read the various gun boards, or even within Free Republic, they would find that there is a very large population of wheelguns residing in legal abiding Americans’ pockets, these days.

I support the 2nd Amendment, as it is written, period. Should you, the reader, own any kind of firearm, and abide by the laws of your state, may your locker be bursting at the seams! Should you, in your daily means, carry for your self-defense legally, may you have a sharp eye, sharp ears, and good training.

4 posted on 09/16/2012 6:03:11 AM PDT by Terry L Smith
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To: marktwain

I got to shoot with an old WWII vintage Thomson in Arizona. Don’t get to do that in New Jersey! I quite liked it but it would certainly be heavy to lug around the battlefield.

5 posted on 09/16/2012 6:10:14 AM PDT by Incorrigible (If I lead, follow me; If I pause, push me; If I retreat, kill me.)
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To: marktwain
“In Guns We Trust”

If I had guns, I would bet my next paycheck that:
1. They would never lie to me, unlike all politicians and bureaucrats.
2. They would not raise their price, after I paid for them, and call it a “user fee”
3. Would respond faster in an emergency than a call to 9-1-1
4. Would appreciate in value faster than a government bond.
5. Would be there when I needed them, unlike FEMA, Department of Homeland CONTROL (DHS is concerned about control of the US populace, not SECRUITY.)
6. Would pass inheritance without a 50% death tax.


ONLY FOOLS TRUST THEIR GOVERNMENT, regardless if is Canada, USA, Venezuela, or you name it. Worldwide, governments have been responsible for millions upon millions of deaths, in their own countries via enforced famines and outright murder.

6 posted on 09/16/2012 6:11:10 AM PDT by Tahoe3002
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To: marktwain
It is a tribute to the stability of the American gun owner
that he does not go on a killing spree after reading the
term “clip” used incorrectly so many times in an article.
7 posted on 09/16/2012 6:19:07 AM PDT by CrazyIvan (Obama's birth certificate was found stapled to Soros's receipt.)
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To: marktwain

Q. Why do people need guns?

A. Name one cilvilization in human history that did not fall apart.

8 posted on 09/16/2012 6:19:34 AM PDT by Psycho_Bunny ("Insulting" Islam is as impossible as casting aspersions on a pile of dog crap.)
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To: marktwain
Lets see, Muslim protests around the world threatening the U.S. and we are to disarm the populace? Liberals want us to give up the one thing that kept Japan from invading the U.S, in WW II, an armed citizen force. Not to mention that the original intent of the 2nd Amendment (or at least what was taught when I was a student) was to allow citizens the means to rise against a corrupt government. I'll keep my guns and take the risks involved to maintain a “free” society rather than be an unarmed victim.
9 posted on 09/16/2012 6:47:20 AM PDT by Boomer One
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To: marktwain
Her petition, online at, has 97,409 signatures as of this writing, a number roughly equal to the number of Americans who are shot every year: 97,820 or 268 every day.

As Ronald Reagan said 'Liberals know a lot of things that simply aren't true'.

10 posted on 09/16/2012 7:04:47 AM PDT by Balding_Eagle (Liberals, at their core, are aggressive & dangerous to everyone around them,)
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To: marktwain
Liberals are always so wordy.

How many words did it really take to say, "I pee in my panties at the thought of guns!"?

11 posted on 09/16/2012 7:16:36 AM PDT by Gritty (This election represents the last exit ramp before the death spiral - Mark Steyn)
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To: ctdonath2

Our local Walmart stopped selling guns a number of years ago.

12 posted on 09/16/2012 7:38:19 AM PDT by 2111USMC (aim small, miss small)
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To: marktwain

Most Canadians are nice, pleasant people but seem to have the DNA genes that control distrust of government, conservatism and self defense bred out of them. I guess it’s because most of the whites who dominate the country came from Britain at a time when the monarchy really ran the show or were pro Brit and fled the American colonies after the Revolution War. They were well trained to defer to the King’s men or serve the King.

We whites in the USA (who almost still run the joint) still have the genes as we came from the trouble makers who tossed out the King’s government or are from immigrants from Europe who came here as they heard there would be the freedom to make one’s own way, not be stuck in the class and situation one was born to. We too can have the genes bred out if we and our offspring fall into the trap that government is a better mama and quit striving to live a better life though our wits and hard work.

13 posted on 09/16/2012 7:45:18 AM PDT by RicocheT (Eat the rich only if you're certain it's your last meal)
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To: marktwain

Much more rational and sensible then Bill Schillers “In Government we trust” dogma.

How is Nevada a toss up state? Obama should be 20 points down there

14 posted on 09/16/2012 8:19:29 AM PDT by MNJohnnie (Giving more money to DC to fix the Debt is like giving free drugs to addicts think it will cure them)
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To: MNJohnnie
"How is Nevada a toss up state? Obama should be 20 points down there"

Because the people that service the voting machines are SEIU.

15 posted on 09/16/2012 8:37:51 AM PDT by Joe 6-pack (Que me amat, amet et canem meum)
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To: marktwain

Wow.. where to start.. For someone who makes the appearance of knowing about firearms, he sure doesn’t know much. I lost count of how many times he used the term ‘clip’ instead of ‘magazine’, AND how he even tried to define a magazine as a clip! And 10 or more rounds is NOT high-capacity, that would be low-capacity. The most produced magazine has a cartridge capacity of 30 rounds. So I would define ‘30 rounds’ as a normal capacity. Less is low-cap, and more is high-cap.

Most semi-automatics used in mass killings are not ‘powerful’ calibers. 9mm is a terribly weak round. Just like .223/5.56.

The Aurora killer did not have a bulletproof vest. Last I heard, he had a simple nylon vest that looked tactical. So it was likely banned under the expired assault weapons ban. Scary-looking, but not practical. And why is the 100rd mag even mentioned? When the author fails to mention that it quickly jammed and he did almost nothing with the AR? He tries to make it an emotional, scary point, when, in fact, it was the complete opposite.

Also, I wonder where this owner obtained a fully automatic M4? Or did his gunsmith modify one? The M4 has three modes: safe, single, burst. No full auto. The Army hasn’t really used full-auto in Joe’s individual weapon since Vietnam, with the old versions of the M16. (Obviously not including SAWs or crew-served.)

So I’m not even gonna bother arguing his few points, all emotion based and with no facts to support. And try comparing the firearm ownership vs crime rates in these US, Japan, Sweden, and Britain. You’ll get all four corners of your little graph.

Sigh.. I would actually give these people some (very little, but some) respect if they actually knew what they were talking about and could make a valid argument against the 2A. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ve ever even met one who could name the 4 parts of a “bullet”. (Hey, you got one of the parts right!)

16 posted on 09/16/2012 8:56:59 AM PDT by Svartalfiar
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To: marktwain
Wow, a reporter who actually got the terminoligy right (except for clip vs magazine) and included a glossary at the end. Surprisingly fair in his description of the people he met at the range - no implying dark motives or psychosis.

“Assault Rifles” really are Sport Utility Rifles... feel free to use this new and improved label.

17 posted on 09/16/2012 9:05:34 AM PDT by lack-of-trust
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To: marktwain
I condemn Gun Store owner Bob Irwin
I squeeze the trigger with the requisite half-pound of pressure and nudge it back just a half-inch.
A novice should not be allowed in the same room as a gun with that light a trigger.
18 posted on 09/16/2012 9:56:21 AM PDT by Oztrich Boy (Monarchy is the one system of government where power is exercised for the good of all - Aristotle)
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