William K. Black
September 15, 2019 Kansas City, MO
A craven group of Democrats is furious with Beto O’Rourke for calling for the mandatory sale of assault rifles to the United States. Reuters’ headline says it all: “O’Rourke’s ‘hell yes’ vow to take away rifles worries U.S. lawmakers pushing for gun limits.” Seriously? Democratic lawmakers (who have adopted no meaningful federal law in response to tens of thousands of gun deaths and maiming) are upset because a prominent Democrat proposed a law to get military-style assault rifles out of civilian life. Granted, the Republicans have patented their right to be the party of stupid, but Democrats should not compete by becoming the party of less stupid, but equally cowardly.
Some issues are hard. Assault rifles held by civilians are not. I decided to research how the crazies are defending assault rifles. I found ‘double-dumb.’ I found a wannabe leader encouraging Americans to own assault rifles – and embrace austerity to prevent imminent hyperinflation. His website informs us “Warren Redlich was the 2010 Libertarian candidate for Governor of New York State.” His leading cause is ‘fairness’ to drunk drivers, which is a revealing priority. His website includes a page entitled “Hyperinflation 2013” – which is even more revealing. Six years later, we still have record low global inflation and negative interest rates. Redlich urged Republicans to refuse to increase the debt limit in 2011 so the United States would default on its debts – or (illegally) cease paying Social Security benefits to avoid the default. Libertarian candidates once opposed being stupid, but they are now actively competing with the Republicans in the race to unreality.
Readers need to recall that I am a criminologist. The AR 15 is an assault rifle. “AR” stands for assault rifle. It is essentially the M 16, the world’s premier assault rifle, except that it is semi-automatic. It is revealing that the mass murderers who have made the AR 15 infamous have not converted it to fully automatic and have rarely had military training with small arms. For a ‘wannabe’ mass murderer, semi-automatic is a superior choice. It reduces the risk of jamming and ammunition needs (ammunition is heavy and bulky) and increases the probability of hitting the humans he is trying to murder.
How does the Libertarian party’s candidate for Governor of New York, an NRA member and attorney who specializes in representing people tried for illegal gun ownership, argue that we are making the world a better place whenever more of us own an AR 15? He makes two arguments. I am not making this up: he begins his argument by noting that a baseball batter can be hit by a 100 m.p.h. pitch without suffering serious injury. Recall that my theme is that assault rifles in civilian hands are an example of an indefensibly stupid policy we cannot afford to continue. I trust our readers know enough about physics, baseball, and rifles to realize that his baseball example is irrelevant. I write to develop an additional theme. Stupid is often a cover for a darker pathology – hate combined with rabid fear against the ‘other.’
Redlich claims the AR 15 is such a wimpy weapon that a poorly trained civilian needs a huge magazine capacity. A civilian under attack by a large number of criminals will probably miss his target with most of his shots. Even in the unusual case where he hits the person he aimed to hit, there can be no confidence that a single hit will kill or incapacitate her. Redlich implies we all need our own AR 15s for “self-defense in a WROL situation (like the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina or the Korean merchants in the Rodney King riots.” WROL is a right-wing acronym for “without rule of law.” Note that both of his examples involve raising fears of blacks, who Redlich presents as out to murder and steal. Both examples also rest on the assumption that one cannot, and should not, rely on a rule of law because there are evil black people and leftists out to murder you.
If someone is attacking you and you can shoot them from 300 yards away, that’s a lot better than waiting until they’re close enough to hurt you. And a single shot from an AR-15, or even 5 shots, may not be enough to stop the bad guy at such a distance. So having a 30-round magazine is appropriate in such situations.
At 300 yards, the bullets have lost more than half its energy. At 500 yards they have less than a quarter of the energy they had when leaving the muzzle, and not much more than a hockey puck.
Actually, at 900 meters, more than three times the “300 yards range” he uses, the AR 15 delivers a force experts describe as “lethal.”
The most used expression for lethality is the kinetic energy of the bullet (Fig. 8). The minimum energy required to put a man out of action is generally believed to be 15 kilogram-meters (108 ft.-Lbs.) . The distance at which this is the projectile’s remaining energy thus is a good expression of the useful maximum range, as far as lethality is concerned. In the … 5.56 mm [it is] 900 meters.
Military contractors shape bullets, of course, to penetrate and kill humans. We shape hockey pucks and baseballs so they will rarely penetrate and kill humans. Yes, bullets lose energy with increased range, but available AR 15 ammunition can typically develop a lethal blow at 900 meters (absent prompt, advanced medical care) and can kill far beyond that range if they strike vital areas. At 900 meters, a hit in the torso or head is frequently fatal even if the soldier receives immediate, extraordinary medical care. Redlich’s fantasy that a looter will be hit five times by rounds from an AR 15 and drag himself 300 meters while bleeding out to try to steal a TV is preposterous.
Redlich, despite his supposed expertise, ignores the role of ammunition. One can buy AR 15 rounds that will fragment or expand if they strike a body with sufficient velocity. Within roughly 200 meters, it is likely that the round will fragment/expand. A round that fragments/expands will not simply incapacitate – it will likely kill without prompt, advanced medical treatment. Limiting the amount of ‘spin’ from rifling can lead to a bullet tumbling when it hits a person and its velocity slows rapidly. A tumbling bullet causes far more severe wounds. Even at 500 meters, an AR 15 round that neither fragments, tumbles, nor expands will likely kill the person hit absent prompt, advanced medical care.
Redlich also ignores the difference between soldiers and civilians when struck with a round from an AR 15. Soldiers are typically young and in excellent physical condition. They often have protective devices (vests and ceramic plates) designed to decrease injury. They are often highly motivated and have superb small unit cohesion. They are supported by medics that are experts in emergency medicine on the battlefield and trauma surgeons expert in treating gunshot wounds. When a soldier is shot, his fire team will often rush to his aid and seek to kill the shooter. A looter is not a highly motivated soldier defending his nation. NCOs impose fierce discipline on any soldier who fails in his duty. When you shoot a looter, he limps or crawls away and he has no squad mates rushing to avenge him. His fellow looters run away.
Redlich is the ‘reasonable’ face of assault weapon stupidity. His racism takes two paragraphs to emerge. Clay Martin’s uses racist code in his titles. “Clay’s Guide to Urban Defense.” Yes, “urban” means people of color – and “the violent left.” To ensure he is not being too subtle, Martin then stresses that he is talking about people who live in the “inner city.” Martin describes himself as a “former Marine and Green Beret, retiring out of 3rd Special Forces Group. He is a multi-decade and -service sniper….” That means, unlike Redlich, he actually understands the lethality of assault rifles.
Martin begins his murderous rant with this fantasy, which he published almost exactly one year after President Trump’s praise of “good people” in the Charlottesville “unite the right” marches in favor of white supremacy. Martin hates the people who protest against white supremacists and fascists.
The Violent Left Rises
Setting the stage for our scenario. You live in the inner city. Antifa goons have taken it over. The problem ballooned from a small riot to an open insurgency overnight. You are stuck in your residence. The police have left the area, retreating behind the perimeter created by the National Guard outside the city. Mobs roam the streets seeking to punish the One Percent, Three Percenters, people with different colored sneakers, and anyone that looks like they may have voted Republican or Libertarian once in their lives. Not to mention the gangs of opportunistic looters and street thugs who see this event as an open season for depredation.
Martin’s prescription for how white supremacists should respond to his blood libel of ‘the [murderous] left’ is a particular kind of assault rifle and ammunition. Note his euphemism for assault weapons, and his ‘wink and nod’ to what it really means. The firearms industry now brands assault weapons as MSRs – “modern sporting rifles.”
[A] modern sporting rifle is exactly what you want.
Martin emphasizes that the ammunition is the secret sauce for mass killings of fellow Americans.
What .308 absolutely does better is penetrate barriers, which is worth considering. Even with my SR-25, one of my favorite rounds was de-linked 147-grain machine gun ammo. Match-grade 175 grain will start to outpace it around 600 meters, but as mentioned above, that is rarely a concern in the streetfight. The 147 grain, with its thick copper jacket, proved very adept at defeating barriers smaller bullets wouldn’t. Brick, thinner concrete, mailboxes, cars — it is a winner for certain. For an extra dose of the good stuff, remember this. Machine gunners in the European theater of WWII generally preferred belts of armor piercing rounds for urban fights. It won’t expand in people, for certain. But it still leaves a 30-caliber hole, which is nothing to sneeze at. And it will chew right through a brick building, to devastating effect for anyone on the inside.
I will translate. He advises everyone on the right to buy an assault weapon that can shoot armor piercing rounds of a materially larger size than an AR 15 shoots. He stresses that urban warfare is close range. His preferred ammunition would be inferior at ranges over 600 meters compared to the specialized ammunition used in marksmanship contests and by military snipers. By “delinked” he means the rounds of ammunition are normally linked together in belt-fed machine guns and SAWs! Clips rather than belts feed ammunition into assault rifles, so the helpful ammunition manufacturers sell a version of armor piercing machine gun rounds that are “de-linked” and can be loaded into clips.
He notes the disadvantage of using armor piercing machine gun shells – they do not “expand in people.” One can buy rounds for AR 15s in which the round will expand when it hits the human body. This causes much more severe wounds and makes it less likely that the round will exit the body (a “through and through”). When the round does not exit the human body, it often greatly complicates emergency first aid and surgery and increases the chance of proving lethal even if the victim receives prompt, superb medical care. Martin wants to make sure that the Americans his ilk shoot will die. Martin explains that the 30 caliber machine gun round is sufficiently larger than the AR 15’s 22 caliber round that it will reliably kill masses of his fellow Americans even without the ability to expand when it strikes human flesh.
He advises his fellow supremacists to use the armor piercing machine gun rounds to kill their fellow citizens because that ammunition ensures that the entire city will become a kill zone. Their fellow citizens and the police cannot hide behind cars or even brick or cement block buildings. The supremacists’ armor piercing ammunition will “chew right through” any of these barriers. The ammunition will also defeat police protective vests and ceramic plates.
Redlich and Martin share a particular form of insanity. Redlich wants citizens to shoot at other citizens (people of color) at a range of 300 meters so that the shooters are not at risk. 300 meters is nearly 1,000 feet. It is a distance of over a block. Soldiers, sometimes, can recognize the enemy at that distance because of distinctive uniforms. We teach soldiers to exercise great care in shooting because of the danger of ‘friendly fire’ and firing on citizens. Citizens have no such training and are not subject to military “rules of engagement.” At a distance of 300 meters, citizens cannot even differentiate among people. Whether they are women or children is often unknowable. Whether they are carrying weapons is typically unknowable for citizens.
Redlich and Martin want citizens, wielding assault rifles against their fellow citizens, to open fire on them at distances they cannot distinguish friend and foe. (Assuming fellow citizens are ‘foes’ who should be killed on sight is insane and obscene, but Redlich and Martin indulge in the murderous fantasy that thousands of “urban” types should be killed en masse.) Redlich and Martin know that when the citizens open fire at this range they will often be killing their fellow citizens without cause when they hit the people they aim at. Redlich and Martin know that citizens firing assault rifles at targets 300 meters away will typically miss their intended targets and their rounds will continue to be routinely lethal for another two-to-three blocks and lethal if they hit heads or torsos for another several blocks. Martin knows that citizens who follow his advice in ammunition will overwhelmingly miss their intended targets and spray stray rounds that “chew right through” the walls that black and Latino mothers are desperately hoping will protect their children from the supremacists’ murderous war against America and Americans.
This is madness. The obvious madness of Trump, Redlich, and Martin must not blind us to the madness of Democratic elected officials who are enraged that Beto has called out the madness and demanded that we abandon stupid, indefensible policies.