HouseTalkN (a.k.a Kerry) posted An Open Letter to Gun Owners on January 3, 2013. Below is my reply.
Dear Cousin Kerry,
I read your letter of January 3rd with great interest and would like to respond openly and honestly regarding the “gun control” debate before our great nation. I will not, however, respond to all of the gratuitous insults regarding my lifestyle offered in the opening few sentences. Grandma always said you were the “snarky” grandchild and I guess she was right. I would like to address one issue though. Guns don’t make me “macho” or “manly” any more than your gin and tonic makes you sexy and intelligent, so give the stereotyping a rest and focus on 100 years of facts.
First of all, you said:
Here is the part where I get stuck. In order to protect your rights, don’t you have to protect everyone’s rights? Don’t you have to uphold the rules of safety and decency? Doesn’t it speak to your strong integrity to say, “I am a responsible gun owner and I follow all the rules and jump through all the hoops and I have a right to demand that of all gun owners!”?
We, the law abiding gun owners of America, DO jump through all of the hoops. We are, as a whole, the safest group of people to be around and we take the laws and the responsibility of gun ownership VERY seriously. The problem is that the criminals and the mentally unstable DON’T. Why on earth would you propose adding MORE laws (“hoops”) and/or outright banning equipment used by the majority of law abiding gun owners in order to protect us against those would don’t follow the rules anyway? I read recently that there are 8,000+ gun-related laws in the United States. I wonder how many of those laws were broken by the madman who shot 20 innocent babies and 6 heroic staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary? Did 8,000 laws make you feel safe? Will 10,000 laws make you feel safer? Laws mean NOTHING to those who won’t follow them and even less to someone hell bent on causing mayhem and destruction for his or her own self-aggrandizing evil scheme.
Next you said:
After 9-11, we were willing to give up so many personal freedoms and privacy rights in order to make our country a safer place.
A terrorist tried to hide a bomb in his shoe. We did not make signs that proclaimed, “Shoes don’t kill people! People kill people!” No, we did not. We took off our fucking shoes.
Yes, we reluctantly took off our shoes and, frankly Cuz, it was a new low point in terms of American civil liberties. Seriously. No one likes taking off their shoes to board the damn airplane — and how many bombs have we intercepted because of this new tactic? Zip. Zero. Nada. Do you know why? Because we’re looking for suspicious shoes — inanimate objects. In Israel, the security people at El Al Airlines look at the passengers because they know that people kill people, not shoes. No, the terrorists and smugglers have moved on from shoes to other hiding places — places like breast implants.  I suspect you won’t be so accepting when Harry, the TSA Agent, gets to do a full body search with special emphasis on your frisking breasts on each airplane trip. No, once again this shows that people are the problem, not inanimate objects.
Then you continued:
I like my gin and tonics. I dare anyone to try to take them from me. But, here’s the thing. I am a responsible drinker of legal age. I follow the rules. I don’t put other people at risk by drinking and driving. I get mad as hell when I hear of yet another drunk driving tragedy. I don’t throw hateful words at Mothers Against Drunk Driving and accuse them of trying to take away my gin and tonics. I thank them.
We are responsible too. I’ll wager that 99.999% of the NRA’s members have never gone on a shooting rampage. No. They’re good, decent people who were (are) as outraged and heart-broken as you are when some madman murders 20 innocent babies and 6 heroic staff members at Sandy Hook. The difference is that Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) didn’t propose banning all mini-vans and SUV’s because “they look like they’d be more dangerous in a drunk driving accident”. Nor did MADD suggest that all adults should be limited to 1 gin and tonic per day as a “reasonable way to control drunk driving deaths”.
No. MADD said “take the drunk drivers off the road and put them in jail where they can’t hurt the rest of us“. Why aren’t the gun control advocates doing the same thing? Instead, we get a university professor calling for NRA President Wayne Lapierre’s “head on a stick”  Does the average American understand that the NRA is the foremost advocate of firearm education and personal rights in the U.S.? Why on earth would a seemingly educated man be accusing the NRA of wrong-doing? To me, that sounds like people blaming MADD for drunk driving deaths — ridiculous. You should be thanking the NRA for all that they have done, not blaming them for the insanity of a madman’s actions.
Lastly, you wrote:
Why is it so radical to keep assault rifles out of the mainstream? Why is it so radical to think that mentally unstable people shouldn’t have access to firearms? Why is it so radical to deny weapons to abusive men?
So…will you please join me in trying to protect your guns and protect our children at the same time? It doesn’t have to be one or the other. It can be both.
OK, now we get to the meat and potatoes of the problem — and you know how I like meat and potatoes!
First of all, it is illegal to own an assault rifle in the United States. An Assault Rifle is a select-fire weapon used in the military. Your typical, modern assault rifle can be set to (generally) shoot a single shot, a 3-shot burst, or fully automatic fire. It’s a great tool to have in a war zone, but it hasn’t been legal for the average citizen to own in the United States since the National Firearms Act of 1934. That’s right. It’s been illegal for over 75 years to own a fully automatic gun unless you are licensed and register the purchase (or transfer) through the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms). It is what’s called a Title II weapon  and is heavily regulated as are hand grenades, mortars, etc.
What you probably meant to say was an Assault Weapon. This is a minor typo, but A BIG DIFFERENCE in reality. An assault weapon is a firearm which has the cosmetic look of an assault rifle, but is legal for an average citizen to own. The term Assault Weapon was first coined by gun control advocate Josh Sugarmann in his 1988 book which said:
Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. 
I may be mistaken, but that sounds to me like he’s trying to confuse the public in order to ban more weapons.
So… what cosmetic things make a gun an “Assault Weapon”? Let’s look at a few examples:
1) A pistol grip. Why would someone want a pistol grip on their rifle or shotgun? Because it puts the wrist at a better angle and makes it easiest/more comfortable to shoot because it causes less strain on the wrist. It does not make the weapon more dangerous or deadly in any way.
2) A flash suppressor. That is a small appendage at the end of the barrel which helps the shooter see the target better because it reduces some of the flash. This is important for target shooters AND for the person shooting next to you at the firing range. If you don’t have a flash suppressor on your rifle, the flash will probably distract his target shooting as well. Contrary to popular belief, it does NOT help hide the shooter from others. It does not make the weapon more dangerous or deadly in any way.
3) A collapsible or folding stock. In days of old, all rifle stocks were exactly the same size. If it was too big or too small, YOU had to adjust to it. Now, with modern manufacturing techniques, we can adjust the rifle so it is comfortable for a greater array of shooters. It also make transporting the weapon easier. It does not make the weapon more dangerous or deadly in any way.
4) A front barrel shroud. Why would you need to barrel shroud? To keep from burning your hand! Guns have used barrel shrouds to keep shooters from burning themselves since World War I and the fact that many rifles today are made of “plastic” means that there HAS to be a shroud in place to avoid burning yourself. It’s a safety feature. It does not make the weapon more dangerous or deadly in any way.
5) A grenade mount. A grenade mount is a threaded part which allows for a rifle grenade to be launched off the end of the barrel.  This is an antiquated notion from World War II or the Korean Conflict. Modern grenade launchers are mounted under the barrel of a military rifle , not on the barrel and grenades are tightly regulated under the previously mentioned Title II weapons restrictions, so no one should have a rifle grenade anyway. In any event, I guess some people like their World War II era replicas to look authentic, but it doesn’t make the weapon any more dangerous by itself.
6) High capacity magazines. This is the most common question I get from “non-gun” people: “Why would anyone need a 30 round magazine?” Honestly, I probably won’t need a 30-round magazine to defend my home and loved ones from a burglar, rapist or murderer. I probably don’t need a 30-round magazine to shoot at targets at the range. In fact, I don’t need a 30-round magazine anywhere but in a combat zone. It really is a matter of convenience. A well-trained shooter can use three 10-round magazines almost as quickly as using one 30-round magazine, or two 15-round magazines. The point is this: changing the magazine size will have little or no effect on a criminal hell bent on destruction. The difference is, and always has been, the intent of the gunman. (Sorry, cousin, we’re back to that whole “people vs. inanimate objects” debate) So why legislate a change in equipment at all? If shooters can’t buy 30-round magazines, they’ll buy 3 or 4 10-round magazines instead.
Before I leave the cosmetic side of the Assault Weapons discussion, let me offer you this comparison:
The first gun looks like something grandpa shot when we were kids, right? The bottom gun is something I would have. The difference in performance — nothing. Both use the same internal parts and fire the identical bullet. The legal difference — the bottom one is considered an Assault Weapon because it has a folding stock, a pistol grip and a large capacity magazine. The rifle on top is just as deadly as the rifle on the bottom in the hands of a criminal.
Before I close this letter, let’s return to your drunk driving example for a moment shall we? (Bless your heart, I know those gin and tonics have always been near and dear to you). Would you suggest we ban all motor vehicles in order to reduce drunk driving fatalities? No, of course not. Would you require every vehicle have a built-in breathalyzer which prevented the car from starting unless you can prove you’re sober? No, why would you burden the sober majority with such foolishness? Obviously, we work to eliminate the bad behavior. We do it through education and tighter enforcement of the laws currently on the books.
Why aren’t we doing the same with gun issues? We see a few mentally unstable people getting guns and committing horrible crimes, but we’re not talking about mental health “control”. We see gang bangers and drug dealers going into the penal system and coming back out and doing the same thing over and over again. What we need to address is mental health and criminal behavior problem in our country, not adding more laws and procedural burdens on law abiding, tax-paying gun owners.
Well, I’d better go now. I’ve gotta pick up grandma and take her to see her attorney. Apparently she saw you key my old truck that I gave her and she re-writing her will. Ain’t karma a bitch, cuz?
Until next Christmas, God Bless!
P.S. — I threw in some facts with my rebuttal and I included some footnotes for your convenience.
 see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/13/cocaine-breast-implants-photo_n_2295301.html for more information.
 Note the modern grenade launcher is mounted under the barrel and has a separate trigger in front on the magazine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:M16a2m203_afmil.jpg