On Dec. 24áthe Journal Gazette published a column, “Candid gun views torpedo appointment” by Dean L. Winslow, a retired Air Force colonel and flight surgeon. In the column, Winslow states: “I do not support the unrestricted ownership of semiautomatic assault weapons by civilians.” Winslow also states: “I'd also like to ... just say how insane it is that in the United States of America a civilian can go out and buy a semiautomatic weapon like an AR-15.” Winslow, we infer, wants all semiautomatic firearms banned.
Winslow does not know what constitutes an “assault rifle.” By definition, assault rifles are short, compact, military-issued firearms chambered for ammunition of reduced size or propellant charge and that have the capacity to switch between semiautomatic and fully automatic fire. It is impossible for a civilian to purchase an assault rifle for two main reasons:
1. An assault rifle must be military issued, and,
2. It must be capable of fully automatic fire.
Winslow goes on to claim that “because of their high muzzle velocities, assault weapons are challenging for untrained civilians to control.” In actuality, the AR platform is one of the easiest firearms to shoot because of its light recoil and in-line structure that results in almost no muzzle rise when fired.
Winslow claims that the AR (which stands for ArmaLite Rifle, by the way) is inherently inaccurate beyond 100 yards. Wrong again. AR rifles are, routinely, winning long-range shooting competitions, including Camp Perry military competitions, out beyond 600 yards. Winslow claims to be rated an expert in shooting the M-16. If so, it is hard to believeáhe is unaware of the excellent long-range record of AR-type rifles.
Winslow claims “assault rifles” were severely restricted from 1995 to 2004. In fact, the restrictions were only cosmetic in nature and far from severe. The ban had no measurable effect on the AR market. Winslow says that during the ban mass shootings were far less frequent. On the contrary, even the decidedly anti-gun Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the assault weapons ban and found “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.”
Winslow correlates the ineffective “assault weapons ban” of 1994 with an alleged change in mass shootings, claiming mass shootings increased from 1.4 per year to 4.6 after the ban but giving no source for the data and no definition of what constitutes a “mass shooting.” First, it is an extremely long logical leap from correlation to causality. Second, as a doctor and scientist, Winslow should know of both the CDC findings and the bogus aspects of correlations. It is called the Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc fallacy, meaning: after this; therefore because of this. One would hope Winslow might know better than to display such simple-minded naivetÚ.
There is, however, a much stronger factor correlated with mass shootings in the United States: since 1950, all but two (1.6 percent) took place in gun-free zones. The exceptions were the Gabby Giffords' shooting, which was in a supermarket parking lot and the Carson City, Nevada, International House of Pancakes shooting.
“Assault weapons are not being used to kill “bad guys” in self-defense,” says Winslow, but rather, “for entertainment, mass murder and domestic terrorism.” Winslow highlighted the Sutherland Springs, Texas, church shooting, but he conveniently overlooked the fact that an NRA instructor used his AR rifle to stop the killer.
Winslow closes by saying, “Having semiautomatic weapons makes no sense.” Again, he advocates outlawing all semiautomatic firearms, not just AR-15 variants but all semiautomatic rifles, shotguns and handguns.
It seems lost on Winslow and other gun-ban advocates that criminals, by definition, do not obey laws, and more laws, on top of the nearly 20,000 existing federal laws, state statutes, local ordinances and administrative regulations, will do nothing to deter criminals.
Bob Ald-ridge is a Fort Wayne resident.