Monday, February 28, 2005


ACE today has a post on the ingenious way a Frenchman has circumvented a ban on the military .50 BMG cartridge- he's developed a new one using the same case and bullet! Of course for many Europeans the idea of using firearms for anything other than hunting (and even that it pretty much universally decried) is outrageous and so most European states see nothing wrong with banning military cartrtidges. Obviously they can have no other purpose than to kill.

In Britain semi-automatic long arms are banned along with handguns of all shapes and sizes. An awful lot of handgunners went out and replaced their handguns with lever actions and bolt actions when the ban came into effect. This must have made the country a safer place- better a man with a bolt action 7.62 rifle than a 9mm handgun. AR and FAL-type rifles can still be bought but the action has to be manually cycled- this somehow makes them less dangerous than their semi-auto brothers. Weapons like the Enfield and Mauser are also still legal- apparently the weapons of the World Wars are somehow less dangerous than the modern equivalent.

The problem seems to be that those who want to ban certain types (and eventually all types) of weapon or ammunition, do not understand firearms at all. Their hoplopobia is completely irrational. As I commented at ACE's place, it's illegal in some countries to buy 7.62mm ammo, but legal to buy .308. The former is of course a deadly military cartridge designed for no other reason than to kill people. The latter is a hunting round. Anti-gun types generally seem to have no understanding of what it is they are afraid of. For example, show a hoplophobe a Desert Eagle in .44 Magnum and a Marlin in the same calibre and ask them which is worse and I'm pretty sure they'd say that the former must be banned while the latter was okay. Well, okay, they'd probably want to ban both but if they could only pick one you know it'd be the more dangerous looking Desert Eagle. It would not occur to them that the Marlin could generate greater velocity and muzzle energy out of the longer barrel. The Californian ban on the .50 BMG makes no sense- and it makes even less for a Republican Governor like Arnie to have agreed with it. The .50 is not a noted weapon for criminals to use. It's not even a popular terrorist weapon, coming far behind the AK, RPG, car bomb and suicide vest. There was a .50 sniper rifle in use by the IRA here (obtained illegally- that's the other thing hoplophobes seem to have trouble with; criminals and terrorists don't often obey laws) but it was rumoured that there were only one or two guys capable of firing it. Maybe that's the biggest point that the hoplophobes don't get- it's not the gun, it's the person using it.

The .50BMG ban likely has more to do with a creeping ban of other "dangerous" calibres or types of gun than with any real perceived threat from its criminal use- has there even been a single case of the .50 being used in the commission of a crime in California? And how long will it be before someone suggests banning other "military" cartridges there?

No comments: