Commentary: Do your homework before you buy into 'assault weapon' rhetoric

The tragedy in Orlando, Florida, has re-energized the anti-gun rhetoric, and I am sick and tired of the fear mongering misinformation.

In terms of general public ownership, there is no such thing as an "assault weapon." The Department of Defense specifically defines an assault weapon as a firearm that allows for selective shooting. That is, it is a weapon that gives the shooter the option of semi-automatic or full-automatic firing.

The common AR-15 and AK-47, to name two guns that you can purchase legally at most Arizona gun stores and gun shows, are NOT assault weapons. You have to pull the trigger each time to fire the weapon. That is semi-auto mode, with the only "auto" being that a new round is chambered after each firing.

Now yes, it is possible to legally purchase and possess a true assault weapon, meaning a firearm that will continue to discharge as long as you keep the trigger pressed. But to do so, you need a federal Class III license, and it takes next to an act of God to qualify for and pay for such a license.

The weapon alone is extremely expensive compared with the price of similar or "look-alike" non-assault guns, the cost of applying for such a license is equally onerous, and the average wait time to obtain a Class III license is typically 4 to 6 months.

What's more, when you apply for a Class III license, you authorize the BATFE and FBI and more (in some cases, including the IRS) to conduct a detailed background check on you and, more often than not, your family and friends. It is not fun, believe me.

Then there are the conditions and caveats of having a Class III licensed weapon. If you are cleared for a Class III, you must agree to let federal, state, and/or local law enforcement to come to your place of residence at any time day or night to verify that your firearm is secured and in your sole possession.

If you are home, said weapon(s) must be kept locked and unloaded, ammo for the weapon must be stored in another location, and your premises may be searched top to bottom without need of a warrant.

If you are at the firing range, let's say, you are not allowed to let anyone else operate or even handle your weapon. You are the only person who is allowed to do so. Violation of this condition is a federal felony.

The anti-RKBA crowd ignores the truth about "assault weapons." As far as they are concerned, if a gun looks "ugly," then it most certainly is an assault weapon and thus should be banned. But looks are deceiving, and the opponents of the 2nd Amendment and their compliciters the Lamestream Media continue to try to characterize too many guns as assault weapons. Sadly, the public seems to slurp this Kool-Aid.

News reports of the Orlando horror repeated "assault weapon," and in that, demonized the AR-15. But did the perpetrators deploy full-auto weapons? I ain't heard diddly about that, have you? Only thing that's been reported again and again is that the shooter(s) used AR-15s...and AR-15 rifles that can be purchased without a Class III license are NOT assault weapons! They are semi-auto, not full-auto.

It's time that the public be made aware of the difference ... before it's too late.

Decades ago, the Handgun Control Inc. Agenda called for federal control of the ownership of large-blade kitchen knives and garden shovels, claiming that these were weapons that should not be easily available to the general public. One of the signatories to the printed agenda was California Senator Diane Feinstein.

When Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco, she advised that the best weapon a homeowner could have for protection was a shotgun, and that ownership of handguns should be banned in the city and county.

However, at the same time, Frau Feinstein obtained a concealed-carry permit for a .38 revolver. It was a federal permit, letting her carry across state lines and even onto Capitol Hill. For many years, she carried in her purse ... even in the Senate chambers.

So beware of the "Animal Farm" of the anti-gun crowd.

Michael C. Westlund is a resident of Clarkdale.

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