We already knew that there are so many laws that it is impossible to determine whether an individual is completely law-abiding. I was alarmed to learn that even if we restrict ourselves to criminal statutes, and only those promulgated by the federal government, we still can’t say who is not a criminal. Paul Rosenzweig dives into the subject after noting:
Even the Congressional Research Service can’t count the federal criminal laws.
Would civilians benefit from the right to keep and bear fully-automatic firearms (a.k.a. “select-fire” or “machine” guns)? I’ve raised this question with firearms tacticians in the past, and the most common answer is, “Probably not.” This answer is usually buttressed by three arguments:
- You can’t deliver hits any more quickly with full-auto fire. After the first shot of a full-auto burst the accuracy of an unmounted gun decreases due to recoil. Hence, agencies that issue select-fire weapons prefer that shooters train to deliver three-round bursts instead of barrages.
- Reloads, running out of ammo, or overheating your gun are all more likely to get you killed in a fire fight than the inability to deliver an adequate volume of fire.
- Modern military tactics only call for fully-automatic fire in squad scenarios. Civilians don’t normally travel in squads with the full battle loads necessary to sustain a firefight with automatic weapons. (Though a militia formed in a state of emergency probably would.)
And yet, there’s this disconcerting fact that the government, which has the option, generally chooses to equip its agents with select-fire weapons. I’ve reasoned before that the argument should end there: If it’s appropriate for government agents it’s appropriate for The People. But the question is still interesting.
One does not need a vivid imagination to conjure scenarios in which a civilian militia or family would benefit from fully-automatic firearms. In fact, most military doctrine for the use of full-auto fire from man-portable weapons involves defensive uses: “breaking contact” to retreat, “denying access” to an aggressor, and “final protective fire.” As discussed in that last article by Oleg Volk, any home or business that has been attacked by a mob would have benefited from the deterrent of a machinegun defense. (Nothing says “go away” like sweeping a sector with automatic fire.)
Even individuals can find themselves in situations warranting a maximum volume of fire. For example, aggressors often attack by ramming with vehicles. To stop an incoming vehicle that threatens your life or property you’d ideally place aimed fire through the windshield at the driver. But if the vehicle is approaching too quickly or the driver takes cover behind the engine you have to stop the vehicle itself, and that requires a barrage of fire: The faster you can shoot the greater your chances of stopping or diverting it.
Continue reading “Why Civilians Need Machineguns”