A while back, David Rosman wrote an anti gun editorial for the Columbia Missourian. A reader of that editorial disagreed, and provided a link to LearnAboutGuns.com to show the effectiveness of so-called “assault weapons” for self defense purposes. I then noticed this incoming link in my server logs, read Mr. Rosman’s article, and wrote my own rebuttal. I recently received an email from David Rosman, in which he provided a link to his rebuttal to my rebuttal. My response is below. Please note that I address his responses out of order, since I want to address the substantive issues before getting to his somewhat condescending remarks and borderline personal attacks (which I basically ignore).
The Substantive Points
Eric also argues that cars, knives, explosives and airliners have been used to kill. He continues, “…the reason that Seung-Hui Cho was able to kill so many people at Virginia Tech is because the law abiding victims were disarmed…” and if students were allowed to carry guns, the Virginia Tech shooting would not have been so costly. It is obvious that Eric has never shot someone breaking into his home (I have) and never saw ABC’s “If I only had a gun.” . . . I know police officers who have been involved in gun battles. In many cases, the officer had to reload his weapon two or three times and still did not hit his target with the deciding shot. What makes Eric or anyone else think they are better?
I have indeed seen 20/20’s episode entitled “if i only had a gun.” I even wrote an article discussing it a few days after it came out. Simply put, that episode consisted of untrue statements, flawed experiments, and an anti gun bias that was readily apparent. My full response to that 20/20 episode, and links to other such rebuttals to that episode, can be seen here. That article also addresses the incorrect assertion that fatally shooting the criminal on the first shot (or even at all) is necessary for effective self defense. While we’re on the topic of 20/20, I would suggest this 20/20 episode, discussing the crime reducing benefits of gun ownership and concealed carry.
To those who doubt the real-world self defense effectiveness of guns, I would suggest taking a look at this page, and this self defense case in particular, where an armed student recently saved himself and 9 other people from a pair of gunmen who were bent on raping the female students, then murdering all of the students. To those who would like a peer reviewed study on self defense, I would direct your attention here.
Eric claims, “so-called assault weapons… are defined only by a rather arbitrary set of cosmetic and safety features, none of which make the gun any more deadly.” Not so arbitrary, my friend. Calls to the ATF lead me to Title 27, CFR, Chapter II, Part 478, Subpart B, Section 478.11. . . There, in black and white, are the definitions of an assault weapon. It is obvious that Eric has not read the law. A number of weapons or manufacturers are specifically named and definitions given. A semi-automatic assault rifle cannot have two or more of the following: “(1) A folding or telescoping stock, (2) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon, (3) A bayonet mount, (4) A flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor, and (5) A grenade launcher.”
Here, David Rosman confuses the words “arbitrary” with the word “indefinite,” as assault weapon bans are indeed arbitrary. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of “arbitrary” includes an action that is “marked by or resulting from the unrestrained and often tyrannical exercise of power,” or “ based on or determined by individual preference or convenience rather than by necessity or the intrinsic nature of something.” The ban on so-called “assault” weapons fits that definition quite well, as there is no nexus between crime prevention and the banning of such features that are so well suited to self defense, especially since criminals rarely use so-called assault weapons. Also, note that the few criminals who do want such weapons have no problem getting them, just as such criminals have no problem breaking the law against murder, robbery, etc. For a much more in-depth discussion of the arbitrary nature of assault weapon bans, i would suggest this article from the Journal of Contemporary Law.
However assault weapon bans are also indefinite, contrary to Mr. Rosman’s opinion. For example, the “assault weapon” ban in Cook County, IL bans pistol grips and semiautomatic shotguns whose magazines can hold more than 3 rounds, to name a couple items. Virtually every semi-automatic shotgun stores its shells stacked one behind the other in a tubular magazine. This means that the same shotgun might hold 3 shells of a certain length, or 4 shells of another length. While most 12 gauge shotgun shells are 2.75″ or 3″ in length, some specialty shells are shorter in length. A prosecutor might load more than 3 of these rather tiny shells into a shotgun, and claim the shotgun’s owner has violated the assault weapon ban. Until there is a test case that makes its way through the courts, we can’t say with certainty how such a scenario would turn out. Similarly, the Cook County “assault weapon” ban on “features that can act as a protruding grip for the non-trigger hand” is indefinite, leaving citizens unable to tell if they are in violation of the law. Does a sling attached to the gun count? What about the end cap for the magazine? Or a flashlight attached to the gun so that home invaders can be seen at night? Since the “assault weapon” bans offer no guidance, law abiding citizens (and even lawyers) are unable to tell what exactly would violate the law until a test case makes its way through the courts. The ISRA also has a great article discussing another indefinite aspect of the Cook County ban on so-called “assault weapons,” targeted at barrel shrouds.
Finally, I would like to note that Mr. Roseman’s legal research was flawed. He failed to mention §478.40a, which addresses “large” capacity magazines, a material (and draconian) part of the now-expired federal ban on so-called assault weapons. More importantly, this federal law that he discussed has long since expired, and is not completely on point with the current state of the law. Today, only state and local bans on so-called “assault weapons” still exist, and it is those (often more restrictive) bans that are relevant. At the federal level, new assault weapon bans have also been proposed, which differ from the old ban in numerous ways, further making that old, expired CFR provision less relevant. Finally, a citation to the actual underlying statute, not the CFR, would have been preferable, as a person is taught in their first semester of law school.
In fact, many of the definitions Eric uses as illegal [assault weapon] attachments are permitted, such as a folding stock, if it were the only modification. I don’t need a grenade launcher.
Grenades have been banned since long before the assault weapon ban, making that provision of the ban a moot point. I suspect that it was only added to make the other features sound scarier than they are, especially since even some anti gun members of congress don’t know what that feature list describes. Next, while I have no use for a grenade launcher, I do have a use for more than one feature, such as a pistol grip and a flash suppressor. Those two features can give a person who is defending themselves against a night time quite an advantage, helping them to better hold on to the gun, while avoiding the blinding effect of their own gun’s muzzle flash. Finally, I’ll note that current assault weapon bans, such as the Cook County, IL ban, does not allow a gun owner to have even one of the enumerated features.
Finally, Eric’s response to “the lethality and technology incorporated in the modern handgun, shotgun or rifle could not have been imagined 300 years ago,” is a nonresponse. He did not take on the statement. Of course, the technology and lethality has improved since the muzzle-loading, smooth-bored rifles and handguns of the 18th century.
I must also disagree here, and stand by my previous reasoning. More to the point, I stand by the Supreme Court’s reasoning in D.C. v. Heller, where the Second Amendment was expressly held to protect the ownership of modern firearms by individual citizens. There really can’t be much debate on this issue, as our nation’s highest court has spoken, carrying out its duty to have final say at interpreting the constitution.
[In response to my assertion that David Rosman, as someone who is not a judge or even a lawyer, is not qualified to essentially tell the Supreme Court that they were wrong in D.C. v. Heller, Mr. Rosman stated the following:] [The LearnAboutGuns.com Author] obviously did some research noting that my biography (I am not sure which one), does not indicate that I have a law background. Does seven years as administrative hearing officer for the state of Colorado qualify?
No, your experience as an administrative hearing officer does not qualify as the type of legal experience or education necessary to address the construction of constitutional provisions, and effectively tell the Supreme Court that it is wrong. Administrative hearing officers do not have to pass the bar exam, do not have to go to law school, and don’t have to have the sort of legal training and experience necessary to properly understand constitutional law. I’ve actually worked with a few administrative hearing officers, and while they were skilled at their jobs and were nice people, their lack of robust legal knowledge was readily apparent. The closest analogy that I can think of is to compare the difference between a school nurse and a neurosurgeon. Both have medical knowledge, but even decades of experience as a school nurse really doesn’t leave one qualified second guess that neurosurgeon.
Off-topic Remarks by David Rosman
Eric dissected my article, arguing his position. Not too bad for a law student, I might say.
This statement is rather condescending and off topic. I don’t think that Mr. Rosman does much to bolster his respectability/credibility with this comment, and I decline to stoop to that level. Instead, I believe in polite discourse, and will move on to the next point.
I received an e-mail from “Eric,” who appears to be the primary owner and writer for LearnAboutGuns.com. Eric wrote a commentary concerning my commentary. . . Why “Eric” in quotes? I spent an hour on his Web site and failed to find his full name. . .
My first name is indeed Eric, I do run this website, and the facts about myself that I provide here are accurate. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t provide my full name on this website, for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I’m concerned about harm to my legal career, as there are anti gun people out there who might not hire/promote/retain me, due to my advocacy for the right of the citizens to own guns for self defense and other lawful purposes. Secondly, I enjoy my life as a private citizen, and don’t wish to subject myself and my family to any media publicity regarding gun rights. Thirdly, criminals sometimes target gun owner’s homes for burglary, hoping to steal guns. While my guns are safely and securely stored when I’m not home, and available for self defense when I am home, I don’t wish to increase my chances of suffering a burglary. Fourthly, the police have been known to use unreasonable force against law abiding gun owners who have done nothing wrong. I don’t wish to experience such an abuse of police power.
Leaving aside my reasons for remaining (pseudo)anonymous, I don’t see any adverse effects upon my credibility for doing so. Knowing the identity of a speaker matters when that speaker is presenting original facts, such as who committed a murder, whether a letter was mailed, etc. Knowing the identity doesn’t really matter when the speaker is quoting already known and independently verifiable facts, and then offering his opinions. I engage in the latter on this website. When I mention a news story involving armed self defense, I provide a link to the story, proving up the facts I assert. When I discuss an anti gun editorial, I provide a link to that editorial so that visitors to this website can read that author’s words themselves. When I discuss a court case that has been decided, I provide the legal citation (or slip opinion for very recent decisions) so that those who care to read the court’s entire opinion can do so. Indeed, most of my articles here, especially the ones concerning why I support gun rights, primarily consist of the application of reason and thought to already known facts. As such, my ideas would be of equal validity whether I expressed them in person after stating my full name, address, and social security number, or whether they were passed out in flyer form by a homeless man who hadn’t bathed in a month (although that hypothetical homeless man would probably have a good deal of difficulty getting anyone to read the fliers). Remember, ideas should be evaluated in and of themselves, rather than judging the speaker and imputing that judgment upon the idea.
I have written about “hoax” Web sites and e-mails. Now it is about conspiracy sites with bad research. I can’t wait until “Eric” enters the real world.
I’ll assume that Mr. Rosman’s comment about “bad research” was in regard to our difference in opinion on so-called “assault weapons.” I addressed his confusion above (and pointed out that the error was in fact on his part, not mine). If he still wishes to assert bad research on my part, I invite him to reply once more.
I’m at a bit of a loss as to his comments about hoax websites, and conspiracy websites. On one hand, it seems that here, and throughout his article, Mr. Rosman is implying that I’m not who I claim to be. On the other hand, he seems to suggest that I am in fact a real person, but that I am not in the “real” world.” Those assertions, while equally untrue, are in conflict with each other. I would invite Mr. Rosman to at least be consistent if he is going to depart from the substantive issue and launch into a personal attack. Either way, I decline to spend more time addressing such an unfounded pair of personal attacks, as such incivility has no place in a discussion surrounding an important issue such as gun rights.