The Details are in the Design



F1 Race Car and a 4 Door Sedan
Both with a Rear Spoiler
Everyone draws on comparisons between guns and cars when talking about gun control, especially when discussing so called 'Assault Weapons.' The common mantra is 'it's the driver at fault in a car crash, so why ban the vehicle?' The logic is that the user of either the gun or the car should be punished or held responsible, so restricting access to the tool used to do the harm is arbitrary and wrong.

Well, although many people in the U.S. drive compact cars with small 4-cylinder engines, they buy 'Sport' packages for their cars, attach wings or spoilers to their cars, or modify their engines with performance parts. This is done to emulate REAL race cars used by trained professionals on a closed course. Although the core of the car is the same, they are used with two separate and distinct mentalities and thus alter the intent with which their car will be used - switching from Sunday driver to the Fast and the Furious. Nobody needs to go 0-60 in 5 seconds when the speed limit is 25 to 40 mph and the drive to work is not a trial run in the Indy 500.

So why is this comparison overlooked in the analogy? The cosmetic additions to a rifle emulate the modifications used by trained soldiers for the purpose of a battlefield in a theater of war. The shooter is not going into battle, so why use a weapon that looks like it belongs in a battlefield? It is the mentality of the weapon that shifts. This is because of the gun culture and the pornographization of war. So while the addition of an adjustable stock, a barrel shroud, muzzle brake, or a pistol grip does not fundamentally alter a rifle in a physical or mechanical sense, the aura and mentality attached to the weapon are.

A Classic Hunting Rifle [top] and the FN SCAR Mk 17 [bottom]
The two rifles above are designed for two different and specific purposes. The top gun is a classic hunting rifle and the bottom gun is the FN SCAR (Special Operations Forces Combat Assault Rifle) designed for USSOCOM. They are both chambered for the same round, the 7.62 NATO [military] or the .308 Winchester [civilian]. The hunting rifle is a no frills weapons, while the SCAR has design components that are specifically purposed for a battlefield in a war zone. Civilians can purchase the SCAR Rifle as as the 'SCAR 17S,' a semi-automatic only version of the SCAR Mk 17. [Link Here]

So here is where the comparison of the driver and shooter come into play. If someone were to engage in an illegal activity with an otherwise legal item, i.e. drive like they are in a race on a city street or robbing a bank or going on a shooting rampage, they would more than likely select a sport type car or an assault weapon type rifle. The performance sought in a car when they are purposed for operating in fast, agile, and quick environment are never realistically needed when lawfully operating a vehicle on a city street. Likewise when a person goes hunting, they are not taking down an armed deer in body armor - and even in home defense, the attack wont be a drawn out siege.

I feel like this aspect of the design difference has been overlooked in the discussion and debate - mostly because the Gun Lobby has stifled the discourse. I'm not saying that these should be banned outright per se, but rather what's the justification? This is not an attack on hobbyists or gun collectors, but rather negligence or abdication of responsibility on the side of gun manufacturers. Could it be because that they are shielded from legal culpability thanks to a 2005 law? [Link Here] If they have a contract with the Military and Department of Defense, why should they use similar products and marketing when selling to private consumers? Capitalism is dictated by the wants of the consumer, but should products be made available without limit? I'm sure that there would be endless lines for people wanting to collect fighter jets and air-to-ground missiles - but that does not justify the ability to sell those to private citizens.

This is not intended to be a critique of car manufacturers or an attack on the Second Amendment. Nor am I attempting to argue that the guns of today pail in comparison to the 'firearms' imagined by the Founding Fathers, and should therefore not fall under the rights of ownership of the Second Amendment. Rather this is just a step towards having the discourse that this country so desperately needs to have.

1 comment:

  1. In terms of practicality, an "assault weapon type rifle" would not be the best weapon of choice for going on a shooting rampage. As most shooting rampages are close range, pump action shot guns or a street sweeper would certainly be the most practical and efficient. Also, as statistics have shown, the overwhelming majority of gun related deaths have been committed with pistols.

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