Gun lobby, gun industry and assault weapons: An honest look

People disagree on what an assault weapon actually is. Photo: Guns on display at New York gun show AP photo

MONTGOMERY VILLAGE, Md., April 18, 2013 – President Eisenhower warned us in 1961 about the “Military Industrial Complex.” He didn’t warn us about the civilian version of it, the armament industry that manufactures and markets firearms for citizens’ use. With the hype generated by the current push to change our gun laws it is relevant to learn about their place in the argument.

We have all learned from the news that since the Sandy Hook School massacre, the sale of guns, especially high-powered rifles and high capacity magazines, has gone through the roof. It seems that bad news, even about guns, is an incentive to the firearms industry.

READ MORE: Are guns really necessary?

While the number of homicides in the U.S. has increased since 1999, the rate of homicides per 100,000 population has decreased generally. However, as of 2011, the number of firearms in the hands of civilians is around 277 million or about 89 guns for every 100 persons in our country. I leave it to the experts to extract some conclusion out of these statistics.

What is obvious is that those selling firearms to our civilian population have made a lot of money. In the part of the country where I reside, there is no obvious mass marketing of guns. So it is amazing that the weapons industry continue to do as well as they do. However, some are predicting that recent episodes of massacres and the public’s reaction to them may still cut into their profits.

To try to dampen this effect, the gun industry appears to have set an ambitious goal: prevent the limitation on sales and ownership of the so-called “assault weapons.”

READ MORE: A simple solution to our gun problem

An explanation is necessary here since people don’t agree on what an assault weapon is. Most believe that these weapons are those that are used by the military when charging or defending a position in a battle. Common wisdom also adds an absolute characteristic of these weapons is the ability to fire continuously with one press of the trigger.

To some that have had some experience with these weapons in combat, the fact is that this is somewhat of a fallacy. Assault rifles are so-called because they have a high muzzle velocity, relative accuracy and can fire bullets very quickly. This is true whether they are in automatic or semi-automatic setting.

Infantry units also include machine guns in every squad. In Vietnam the M60 (7.62 caliber) machine gun was the best weapon in close combat. We were discouraged to fire our M16s in full automatic because the accuracy is lost. In any case, an M16 can fire all 20 rounds in a standard magazine in less than five seconds using the semi-automatic setting. This is no different from the high-powered rifles and assault weapon knock offs that some of our citizens want so badly to buy today and the gun industry wants to sell.

So how does the gun industry fight against those that want to limit or stop the sale of assault rifles? Emotionally, they use the Second Amendment and the threat of complete disarmament of the population and behind the scenes they depend on their paid lobbyists in Washington and state legislatures.

While the massacre in Newtown fades from our memories, Congress has mostly given up on its assault weapons ban. A watered down “universal” background check was defeated in the Senate on a procedural vote, even though nearly 90% of our population believes it should be implemented.

It becomes very obvious that the gun lobby is worth the contributions by the gun industry.

Mario Salazar, the 21st Century Pacifist, is a bleeding heart liberal, agnostic, exercise fanatic, Redskin fan, technophile, civil engineer, combat infantry veteran, jewelry maker, amateur computer programmer, Environmental engineer, Colombian-born, free thinker, and, not surprisingly, pacifist. You can find his articles - ranging from politics to cooking a mean brisket - in 21st Century Pacifist <> at The Washington Times Communities. Follow Mario on Twitter @chibcharus #TWTC and Facebook at Mario Salazar.

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Mario Salazar

Mario Salazar is a combat infantry Vietnam Vet, world traveler, renaissance reconnaissance man, pacifist, metal smith, glass artisan, computer programmer and he has a Master of Science in Civil/Environmental Engineering.  Now retired from the Environmental Protection Agency and living in Montgomery County, Mario will share with you his life, his thoughts, his musing on living in yet another century of change.  He will also try to convey his joy of being old.

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