May 30, 2005

Setting the Record Straight on the .50 BMG

I continue to hear gun rights activists repeat the statement that the .50 BMG has never been used in a crime. I first heard about this as a claim made by NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, in his book Guns, Freedom, and Terrorism, and it also appeared, IIRC, in his column in American Rifleman. While it would be a boon for our arguments against bans of firearms which chamber this cartridge if that claim were true, it just isn't.

Now in truth, whether a particular object has been used in one or a thousand crimes shouldn't even be a question which is considered as a justification for banning said object. But when the gun-ban bigots raise the issue, most of us respond to it anyway. But when we do, we need to have our facts straight. All of use enjoy catching the other side in their exaggerations and outright lies. A common argument is that if a journalist/senator/activist can't even get the simple facts straight, how can they be trusted with the more complex. But it works both ways, and it can work against us.

My apologies to Publicola for linking to the VPC, but they have a list of criminal uses of the .50 caliber sniper rifle, as they call it. I'm unfamiliar with most of the cases they cite. But as a Coloradan, I saw a lot of coverage of Martin Heemeyer's bulldozer rampage in Granby. I also recall the news coverage of the Albert Petrosky incident — I'm uncertain as to whether Petrosky actually fired his .50, particularly whether he killed an officer with it — depends upon whom you talk to. And a poster at TFL confirms the Chamblee, GA report. I'm not going to get into the Waco thing, because I don't know whom to believe regarding who shot whom with what.

A lot of the VPC examples constitute mere possession, which of course is enough to get the gun ban crowd's panties all knotted up. And of course we should take anything they say with a large block of salt. But sometimes they do get some fact straight.

We all need to make sure we get our facts straight as well, and also be prepared with our counter-arguments, e.g. that the actions of criminals doesn't justify the abrogation of our fundamental rights.

Posted by Jed at May 30, 2005 05:22 PM

The same can be said of claims (which, I'm happy to report, I haven't heard recently) that no one has ever committed a crime with a lawful, ATF-registered machine gun. Not true. I know of at least one incident from the 1970s, in which a Class III dealer used an M16 to kill his estranged (ex-?) wife and himself. I've seen the newspaper clippings. Normally that wouldn't prove much, because the papers so often get it wrong with respect to guns. But my dad was a local newspaper photographer in a neighboring town at the time, and new the cops well. He was able to confirm that it really was an NFA gun, not just an AR15. I wouldn't take the paper's word for it, but I will take Dad's: He hardly ever got it wrong when it came to guns.

Posted by: Matt at May 30, 2005 10:13 PM

Which is why we should never base our arguments for RKBA on statistics. Never. Statistics can change. And no matter how many crimes are committed with a self-defense tool, if there is a single lawful use of that tool, the law-abiding have the right to use it for that lawful purpose.

Keeping and bearing arms is a RIGHT. If you need to ask permission, if it can be restricted, if some arms can be banned, then that right has been turned into a privilege.

Jeff Snyder's "A Nation of Cowards" is the best book I've read about the ethics of gun control. Not a statistic mentioned anywhere.

Posted by: Bill St. Clair at June 1, 2005 02:57 PM
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