Monday, January 17, 2011

Guns

I like guns. I like for the police to have guns. It is essential for soldiers to have guns. Security guards? Sure. Hunters? Absolutely! Skeet shooting? Target shooting? Well you can’t very likely shoot a target without one!

When I was little I played army and cops-and-robbers with toy guns with my brothers and neighborhood homeboys. I had an air rifle that I would occasionally fill with dirt to blast my enemies. I had a Red Ryder BB gun. I shot at cans. Once, in a moment of major stupidity, I shot my best friend Pat Owens in the ear thinking my brother’s BB pistol wasn’t loaded. That’s the thing about guns. They don’t go well with stupidity.

They also go terribly with hatred.

That was the first thought that occurred to me the other day when I heard that, right here in South Carolina, there was an assault rifle being manufactured with the words, “You Lie” printed on one of the main components. I am not joking.

Because it isn’t funny.

Joe Wilson You Lie Assault Rifle

For those of you who may not know, the words, “You Lie!” were sort of yelled out by congressman Joe Wilson during a health care speech by President Obama back in September of 2009. Mr. Obama just finished saying that the proposed health care legislation would not provide coverage for illegal aliens when Congressman Wilson spontaneously shouted out those words. It was embarrassing for a lot of South Carolinians. Not all, by any means. To his credit, Joe Wilson later apologized for his outburst. It seems he just couldn’t help himself.

So, someone at the Palmetto State Armory had the brainchild to manufacture an assault rifle with Joe’s famous words printed on it. On the manufacturer’s web site it proudly promoted its new limited edition, Palmetto State Armory would like to honor our esteemed congressman Joe Wilson with the release of our new "You Lie" AR-15 lower receiver. These lowers are the same great quality you have come to expect from Palmetto State Armory and feature "You Lie" as the first six digits of the serial number. Only 999 of these will be produced, get yours before they are gone!” Why not cash in on Mr. Wilson’s newfound fame? Why not cater to potential gun owners who despise the president of our country?

However, I remain unclear why anyone would own an AR-15 assault rifle.

The AR-15 (ArmaLite Model 15[8]) is a widely owned[9] semi-automatic rifle, of which the most famous derivative is the selective fire M16-series assault rifle used by the United States military.

Standard AR-15 rifles accept detachable magazines of widely varying capacities (including 10, 20, or 30 round magazines, or 100 round drums), and have a pistol grip that protrudes beneath the stock. AR-15 rifles are highly configurable and customizable. They are commonly fitted with several accessories such as bipods, collapsing stocks, threaded barrels for the attachment of a flash suppressor, and a rail system for the attachment of vertical grips, flashlights, laser sights, telescopic sights and other accessories. The most common bipod is the folding bipod, but there is also a vertical grip with a bipod release. Barrels can come in chrome and stainless steel. The steel barrel tends to be more accurate while the chrome tends to be more durable. It is also possible to use barrels of various rates of twist. AR-15s can also be assembled with a suppressor. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15)

OK, other than soldiers, I can see police with such a weapon. I’m guessing the Palmetto State Armory peeps had a different clientele in mind. Security guards? Doubtful. Hunters? Not very sporting it seems to me.

Here is some food for thought. In Australia all semiautomatic rifles are banned. “The ban on semi-automatic rifles was introduced in 1996 in response to the Port Arthur massacre, in which 35 people were killed. One of the weapons used in the attack was an AR-15.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-15)

In Canada, where many people hunt, the AR-15 is a restricted firearm. There are very rigid tests and background checks made before ownership is allowed. They can only be fired at certified firing ranges. They are not sanctioned for killing bear or moose or anything else.

To many Japanese, and to many Americans, it is simply incomprehensible that the United States has not implemented strict gun controls or prohibitions along the Japanese model. Gun control in Japan is the most stringent in the democratic world. The weapons law begins by stating 'No-one shall possess a fire-arm or fire-arms or a sword or swords', and very few exceptions are allowed.[3] Gun ownership is minuscule, and so is gun crime. As gun crime in other nations increases, many advocates of gun control urge that Japan's gun control policy be imitated.[4] (http://www.guncite.com/journals/dkjgc.html)

There are no restrictions on the ownership of AR-15 rifles in the United States.

So what were the good folks at the Palmetto State Armory thinking when they dreamed of commemorating Joe Wilson’s famous words? Who were their target customers (so to speak)? Well… obviously Joe Wilson supporters. Seems to me that they must have sided with Mr. Wilson’s sentiments and admire his nerve for shouting out his thoughts (fighting words in many people’s minds) in such a public and otherwise respectful forum.

In a nutshell, they so admire the man who called the president of the United States of America a liar to his face, in a joint meeting of congress being watched by people all across America and, indeed, the world, that they stamped his words on a weapon very good for killing people. Is this supposed to be a call to patriotism? Is it a stretch to think that it is hatred?

I understand that Mr. Wilson did not endorse the product, although a picture of the congressman holding a rifle and standing in the company’s gun shop did appear on the company’s website. Since the shooting in Arizona it has been removed.

You know what would be the right thing for Congressman Wilson to do? Perhaps he should come out with a statement condemning the idiocy of stamping those words on an assault rifle. Maybe he should say that it was un-American and unpatriotic of the Palmetto State Armory to use his words – words for which he has sincerely apologized – to further fuel the hatred of our president. Maybe he could take the high road.

Maybe.

2 comments:

Judy T said...

Rachel Maddow just updated this story. The company took the product off the market and Joe Wilson, who said he was not aware of their sale, wrote the company thanking them for doing so.

The little independent newspaper in the state,our own local Free Times, was the one that broke the story. They seem to be the only one doing investigative reporting in the state. Rachel gave them a nice shout out.

Fred Gill said...

Thanks for such an interesting article here. I was searching for something like that for quite a long time and at last I have found it here.


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