The pros and cons of assault weapons

Why would anyone want to own an assault weapon? That’s the question the Rapid City Journal asked on the front page of its Saturday edition, as debate about gun control heats up in the wake of the Newtown shooting. Answer: in West River at least, the reasons shouldn’t be surprising:

[G]un owners in Rapid City cite diverse reasons for purchasing the weapons. Some say they are durable and accurate; a few see them as a financial investment or a way to exercise their constitutional rights; while others point to their value in self-protection or in the fun of target shooting.

Whatever the reason, assault-rifle owners are committed to the weapon.

First Stop Gun

First Stop Gun in Rapid City. Photo (c) Benjamin Brayfield/Rapid City Journal

“There is something kind of zen-like in setting up a bench and trying to put holes in a target,” said Monte Ealy this week as he perused assault rifles at the First Stop Gun shop on Main Street in Rapid City…

The appeal of assault-type rifles for many ex-military personnel is familiarity. Former soldiers who trained on those types of rifles feel comfortable with them, Ealy said.

The owner of Rapid-Fire Firearms, a gun dealer specializing in assault weapons and submachine guns, said he fields many requests from military veterans who want the exact model they used in the field.

“They want a gun just like they had when they were overseas,” Robert Akers said. “And they know what they want … and the price is not really an object to them. They want the highest quality military weapon.”…

Others buy them simply because they believe it’s important to exercise their Second Amendment rights. “If the government got real tyrannical, the people would have a recourse,” [geologist and gun enthusiast Tony] Petres said.

[Gun owner Anthony] Linde shoots for one simple reason: “It’s just fun,” he said.

So according to the RCJ, people buy assault weapons for the following reasons: a) recreation (“It puts a smile on your face to hit something 1,000 yards away,” according to Mr. Linde); b) familiarity (when you come back home from a tour of duty where killing people is your job, it’s important to maintain that familiar sense of masculine power); and c) as a last resort against a “tyrannical government” (because a government that spends almost as much on its military as the rest of the world combined, with enough nuclear warheads to obliterate mankind several times over, is going to be deterred by a bunch of ranchers with assault rifles).

Meanwhile in Pierre:

Residents of South Dakota’s small capital city struggled Thursday to comprehend how the lives of three families were torn apart when a 16-year-old boy was fatally shot by a classmate, the community’s first homicide in more than a year.

Braiden McCahren made his first court appearance Thursday after being charged as an adult with first-degree murder. Authorities allege he shot his friend, Dalton Williams, with a semi-automatic shotgun on Tuesday after an apparent argument that involved a third boy at McCahren’s home. All three boys were 16.

Sometimes the news simply doesn’t require commentary.

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About sdpeacejustice

The SD Peace & Justice Center connects a grassroots network of South Dakotans working for social justice and against violence and oppression.
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