The challenge is often made: Give one good reason why anyone needs an AR-15. There are many good reasons, I respond. Here are just a few: the Armenians, 1915; the Ukrainians, 1932; the German Jews, 1938-1944; the Russians in the 1930s; the Tutsis, 1994; and American blacks.
I own an AR-15. I do not refer to it as an assault rifle because that’s not what it is. I didn’t purchase it to assault anyone. It is estimated that there are at least 5,000,000 – maybe as many as 10,000,000 – AR-15s owned by Americans. How many of those rifles were purchased with the intent to assault anyone? Maybe 100? 200? 500? Even if it was 500, that would mean, at a minimum, that 4,999,500 (or 99.99%) were purchased for reasons other than as an “assault rifle.” “Assault rifle” is an intentionally misleading pejorative meant to create a negative bias. The AR-15 is referred to as a “military style” weapon because it looks like a military weapon. But it isn’t. The military doesn’t use AR-15s in combat any more than they use Jeep Cherokees in combat. The Jeep Cherokee is patterned after a military style vehicle but isn’t one. Likewise, the AR-15 is patterned after a military style weapon but isn’t one. Both are made strictly for civilian use.
Civilian use for what?
I bought my AR-15 because I know something about history.
The Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Christians of Turkey were disarmed by their government which first required permits, then registration, then a ban by proclamation in 1915. Over the next two years as many as 1.5 million defenseless Armenians were exterminated. Armenian girls were hung naked on crosses, crucified.
In her memoir Ravished Armenia, Aurora Mardiganian told the story of her escape from the genocide inflicted by the Turkish government on the Armenian people in 1915. The details of what was done to the Armenians is far too graphic for my purposes here. Suffice it to say that near Malatia, Aurora saw sixteen young Armenian girls who had been crucified by the Turks. From her book:
“Each girl had been nailed alive upon her cross, spikes through her feet and hands, only their hair blown by the wind covered their bodies.”
First permits for guns, then registration, then a total ban on possession of guns, then, the people out of favor with the government being defenseless, genocide.
Genocide in Russia
In Russia, the government gradually disarmed the citizens with laws passed in 1918, 1920, and 1926, ultimately banning possession of all firearms. In the early 1930s some 3,000,000 Ukrainian farmers, unwilling to submit to government-imposed collectivization, were starved to death. Between 1929 and 1945 some 20,000,000 defenseless Russians died at the hands of their government.
The Jewish Holocaust
Germany began the process of gun control in 1928 during the Weimar Republic with permits and registration. The Nazis were voted into power in 1933. In 1938 the Nazis passed what might be termed a “comprehensive gun control” law. The German citizenry was effectively disarmed. After Kristallnacht, all Jews were barred from owning any weapons. All totaled, the German government murdered some 11,000,000 million defenseless people.
The Rwandan Genocide
The Tutsis comprised about 15% of the Rwandan population. It was the Hutu government in Rwanda that unleashed the machete wielding mobs on the Tutsis:
“President Habyarimana’s own political party organized a youth movement called the Interahamwe, which means ‘those who attack together.’ The Interahamwe attracted thousands of homeless kids, and its membership spread across the country like a virus. It became the Hutu-extremist militia, and many of its members were trained to fight and kill by government army soldiers. They traveled in packs and wore informal uniforms – baggy print shirts of bright red, yellow, and green that resembled the flag of their political party…”
The government soldiers had guns. The Interahamwe had grenades and machetes. The Tutsis had “no weapons at all” (Immaculée Ilibagiza, Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, pg. 50).
In the course of about three months in the summer of 1994 these roving mobs murdered an estimated 800,000 defenseless people.
The genocide was ended when an army of Tutsis with guns who had been exiled to Uganda fought their way back into Rwanda and overthrew the government.
Black Codes in the United States
The idea of gun control is not new in America. The earliest gun control laws in America were aimed at blacks, both before and after the Civil War. And the purpose was always the same: to keep blacks defenseless and under control. Even after Emancipation, free blacks were disarmed by state law all over the South. These laws were known as Black Codes. And once disarmed, blacks were easy prey for large roving bands of night riders like the KKK.
I know these are graphic images. I’m not trying to be provocative. But this is the real world and this is real history. When I hear it said that anyone who defends the Second Amendment in America has blood on his hands, I have to think that many people are living in unreality. The images above illustrate what has actually happened when citizens were rendered defenseless by their governments. And this is just a few examples. The list of genocidal atrocities committed by governments is frighteningly long. And the death toll is in the hundreds of millions in just the Twentieth Century.
The arguments we hear today include: AR-15s are designed to do one thing, kill people. And, nobody needs a gun with a magazine capacity of 30 rounds which can fire a round with each pull of the trigger.
Really? I suspect that those people mentioned above, during those times of inexpressible horror, would not have agreed with you.
We don’t know what the future holds for us in America. But we do know what has happened in the past. In the past, when governments and criminals had all the guns and the citizens were defenseless, mass murder has often followed. Times may change, technology changes, but human nature does not.
So I pose this question to those who favor banning the AR-15 in the U.S. Knowing what we know today about the horrific deeds in history perpetrated by their own governments, would you, in principle, still have favored banning access to AR-15s (were they available) to the Armenians, the Russians, the Jews, the Tutsis, and American blacks of those bygone eras?