By Mark Kenyon

Every time I turn on the news, pull up a website, look at Facebook, or just open my eyes – it’s all I see. The endless demonization of guns and gun owners. The gun control debate rages on, with more emotion, ignorance and bias than I’ve ever seen before.

One of my favorite lines I hear from these folks goes a little like this …  “I support the 2nd amendment right! I’m not going to take your guns! But why does anyone need an assault weapon? These are military weapons! You don’t need an assault weapon to kill a deer. No hunter needs this kind of gun. There is no good reason to have an assault weapon!”

To someone with a different background than you or I, or to someone from an urban area who hasn’t been exposed to firearms in any other way than through the movies and tragic newscasts, this might sound reasonable.

But when I hear this kind of rhetoric, I just have to shake my head. Why should these people be telling me what I do or do not need? Have these people ever seen or shot one of these firearms they refer to as “assault rifles”? Does this person know anything about hunting? Does he/she actually own a gun? Do they know how we law abiding, tax paying gun owners use our weapons other than what they see on the news or in movies? The answer 99% of the time is no, no, no and NO.

There are many today who demonize us and our guns because they look at us from the outside. They don’t understand us, our way of life or our hunting/shooting culture. To many of these talking heads and politicians, we are just “those people”. We confuse them. We probably scare them. We are different.

So with that said, I’m going to help out my “friends” on the other side of this issue, and offer an olive branch of insight. I’ll solve everyone’s problems tonight by answering their toughest question. They ask us, why do you need an “assault weapon”? Here are 5 reasonable reasons.

1. Predator Hunting: AR style weapons have become one of the most popular and effective weapons for predator hunting, without question. There are going to be a lot of unhappy predator hunters out there if “modern sporting rifles”, as most sportsman call them, are banned. An article in Petersen’s Riflehunter describes it perfectly, “For a predator hunter, an AR combines inherent precision accuracy with reliable instant multi-shot follow-up capability in a way virtually no other firearm type can. Plus, the AR’s most common and available chambering is .223 Remington, which is the most popular predator hunting cartridge on earth. Not to mention that most predator-configured ARs weigh less than nearly any other type of dedicated predator rifle on the market.”

2. Deer Hunting: AR’s and similar style weapons aren’t just for predator hunting, they have also become one of the most popular rifles in recent years for deer hunters. AR style weapons are a great option for hunting and deer hunters have quickly been figuring this out. ARs or MSRs (modern sporting rifles) are lightweight, easily customizable and easy to shoot. With typically low recoil, it’s a great weapon for younger shooters to get started with too. On top of that, with the right ammunition, many hunters have found MSRs to be just as accurate or even more so than bolt action rifles, but with increased ability to make a follow up shot.

Speaking of “action”, this is an important detail to parse out for those unfamiliar with firearms. When “assault rifles” are discussed in the news, many assume that these weapons are “automatic” or when they hear that the rifle is “semi-automatic” they don’t really understand what that means. Modern sporting rifles/AR’s are not automatic. An automatic weapon is one that shoots repeatedly, over and over, without needing to press the trigger multiple times. These types of weapons are not available to the public, and are not the firearms you see in the store or those owned by law-abiding citizens. Semi-automatic rifles are those that shoot a single bullet with each single pull of the trigger. This action rifle is one of the, if not the most, popular action firearm used by hunters, target shooters and those owning firearms for self-defense. And that also is what these AR/MSR’s are as well.

3. Self Defense: An AR or MSR is a perfectly acceptable self defense option. While handguns or shotguns might be the more convenient option, an AR can be outfitted with accessories such as a flash light to make a very handy defense mechanism. A lady in Georgia recently had her home broken into, and she fled to the attic with her children. The intruder eventually made his way up to the attic and broke into the room, where only the mother’s 6 or 7 gun shots stopped his approach. Having a semi-automatic weapon with a reasonably high magazine capacity saved that woman’s life. The high capacity of an AR, along with it’s light weight, accuracy and accessory options make this an awful nice weapon to have in the case of an emergency. Banning assault weapons isn’t going to save lives, it will only disarm or disadvantage the law abiding citizens and help the criminals who will have weapons no matter what.

4. Target Shooting: For anyone that has shot an AR or similar rifle, this goes without saying. But when used by law abiding citizens and used safely, these are plain fun guns to shoot. Target shooting is a perfectly safe and acceptable past-time, despite what some folks might try to depict it as. The pure engineering marvel that is an AR is a sight to behold, and putting this weapon to the test on the range is a showcase of mechanical magic. If you haven’t shot one yet, I’d highly recommend taking one out for a spin. It’ll put a smile on your face.

5. Because It’s Our Right: In the end, it comes down to this.  “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Plain and simple, it’s right there to see in the 2nd Amendment of our constitution. Preventing me or you from owning and using a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 or a Rock River Arms LAR-8, or a Remington R-25 is an infringement of this right. That’s clear as day to me. So don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Democratic congresswoman Rosa DeLauro had the following to say recently , “Assault weapons are not about hunting or even self-defense, and they should be off the streets…There is no reason on earth, other than to kill as many people as possible in a very short period of time that anyone needs a gun designed for military purposes.”

Well Congresswoman, I must respectfully disagree. You are grossly misinformed and out of touch. But folks, this is what we’re up against. Many people don’t have the same experiences or perspectives as we do, and because of that you and I may never be able to enjoy the benefits of own a modern sporting rifle, or who knows what other firearms might be arbitrarily legislated out of our reach.

Today the president of our beloved nation will announce to the world his proclamation of what he believes needs to be done to solve the “gun problem”. Most expect him to announce a ban on “assault style weapons” and high capacity magazines, while also enacting some type of universal background check and registration program.

For those of you that don’t have an interest in these types of weapons, maybe you don’t think this is a big deal. But I can’t help but look at this madness and worry about what could come next.

It’s a sad day for America and a tragedy for what our constitution stands for. So while we may never be able to enjoy the benefits of owning one of these weapons, I know we’re not going to go down without a fight. I’d encourage you all to support or join the NRA, write congress, buy a gun, and spread the good word. And the next time your  friend at work gives you a hard time about “no one needing an assault weapon for good reasons”, feel free to pass this message along!