Tag Archives: AR-15

Once more about young Kyle Rittenhouse

OK. I just gotta weigh in with another thought about Kyle Rittenhouse before I move on to, oh, something else.

The young man heard about this protest occurring in Kenosha, Wis. What did he do? He got into his car and drove from neighboring Pleasant Prairie to the city on the Lake Michigan shore. He had an AR-15 and some ammo that he had put into the magazine.

He pranced along the street with the weapon and shot two men to death. Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with murder. He pleaded not guilty and went to trial, where he claimed — while sobbing — that he shot the men while defending himself against their attack on him. Self-defense, he said.

The jury believed him. Rittenhouse’s legal team did a stellar job of making him something of a sympathetic character. To be honest, it looked to me — based on what I heard and read — that the defense team out-lawyered the prosecutors.

So, young Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted.

I am still struck by the notion that he went to Kenosha in the first place as a 17-year-old looking to mix it up with protesters complaining about police brutality against African-Americans. He found what he seemed to be looking for; two men paid the price for their encounter with Rittenhouse.

I’ll accept the jury’s verdict, not because I necessarily endorse the defense narrative he delivered. I accept the verdict because I have a strong belief in our jury trial system.

However, if the kid had just stayed home and not rushed onto the Kenosha streets with that AR-15. He went looking for trouble and he found it.

I am out!


Rep. Cain: You’re the reason for stricter laws

Where I come from, when someone threatens another person by saying they have a deadly weapon ready for them, the person to whom he or she is speaking can take that as a direct threat to their health and safety.

So, on Thursday night when former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke said “hell yes, we’re going to take away your AR-15, ” he received a Twitter-borne threat from Texas state Rep. Briscoe Cain, who said “My AR is ready for you, Robert Francis.”

Is that a direct threat to the Democratic presidential candidate from a Republican Texas state lawmaker? Yep. I believe it is.

Is that also a clear demonstration of what O’Rourke is trying to say about enacting stricter gun laws to keep these kinds of weapons out of the hands of crazy people? Yes, sir! I believe that’s the case as well.

I am not going to say that state Rep. Cain is “crazy.” I am saying that he needs to be very careful about the threats he levels against a candidate for the presidency.

The FBI takes quite a dim view of people popping off carelessly while threatening physical harm to individuals running for public office.

As long as we’re talking about guns …

I understand people’s fascination with firearms. I get that many Americans get a form of “enjoyment” out of shooting them.

What I do not get — nor will I ever understand, more than likely — is the fascination with assault rifles, killing machines that shoot large amounts of ordnance in very little time.

I now will explain why I get the fascination part.

I’ll begin by boasting — just a little — that I have a certain proficiency with firearms. I discovered my rifle proficiency while serving in the U.S. Army. I completed my basic training at Fort Lewis, Wash., in 1968 while toting an M-14 semi-automatic rifle. It used a 20-round magazine full of 7.62-mm rounds and I earned a “sharpshooter” rating with the rifle.

I flew from Fort Lewis to Fort Eustis, Va., for my AIT (advanced individual training). Even though I trained as an OV-1 Mohawk aircraft mechanic, we were issued M-16 rifles, on which we had to qualify. The M-16 was much lighter than the M-14, but it, too, used a 20-round magazine, firing a much smaller caliber round: a .223, barely bigger than the .22-caliber bullet my rifle at home shot. The M-16 is a deadly weapon of war, however. I qualified well on that weapon, too.

I was issued an M-16 when I reported for duty in Vietnam in the spring of 1969 and, thank goodness, I never had to fire it in combat.

But my exposure to those weapons never brought discomfort to me. I felt quite comfortable firing them during training exercises.

Fast-forward to 2003. I was working as editorial page editor of the Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. I received an invitation to take part in the Amarillo Police Department Citizens Academy. Its aim is to acquaint civilians to myriad aspects of police work. It’s an educational tool that APD uses to give citizens — such as yours truly — a better understanding of the complexities associated with law enforcement.

One aspect of the academy was to spend some time at the firing range. We got to shoot a .38-caliber revolver — a six-shooter; a 9-mm Glock pistol; and an AR-15 rifle (yes, the weapon used in the Parkland, Fla., school massacre on Valentine’s Day).

I am not as familiar with handguns as I am with rifles. But I made a rather startling discovery about myself that day: I’m a pretty good shot with a handgun. I was able to shoot the six-gun well; I was able to handle the more powerful Glock with proficiency; and the AR-15 felt much like the M-16 I was issued in Vietnam.

I came away from the APD Citizens Academy shooting range understanding fully the fascination with shooting weapons at targets.

However, and this interesting, as well, as much “fun” as I had shooting those weapons at the APD range, I didn’t get bitten by the shooting “bug.” I haven’t fired a handgun since that day 15 years ago.

As we continue this national discussion about guns, though, I remain opposed to the idea of allowing the relatively easy purchase of weapons such as the AR-15 that can be used to kill lots of people in no time at all.

They, in effect, are weapons of war, where they and other such weaponry do what they are designed to do. On the streets — or in school classrooms, for crying out loud! — they have no place.

Where is that solution to this violence?

I hate repeating myself. It frustrates me terribly when I find myself saying the same things over and over … much as I did to my sons when they were growing up.

Not to mention how frustrated they must have been. You know?

Thus, I am aghast at having to say once again: How in the world do Congress and the president find a solution to curb gun violence that doesn’t weaken one of our cherished constitutional amendments. I am referring to the Second Amendment, the one that guarantees gun ownership in this country.

The debate is being joined once again in the wake — once again! — of horrific tragedy. Seventeen people died Wednesday in a horrifying massacre at a Parkland, Fla., high school. A former student is in custody.

He entered the school with an AR-15 assault rifle, a weapon he purchased legally.

I am not smart enough to come up with a legislative solution to this problem. I merely sit out here in Flyover Country, writing a blog and offering commentary on this and/or that issue of the day.

The issue of this day happens to deal with guns and the violence that comes from those who possess weapons with the sole aim of killing as many beings as humanely possible.

A shooter walked into the high school and killed a lot of people quickly. Does the Second Amendment guarantee a lunatic the right to purchase a weapon that the authors of that amendment never envisioned in the late 18th century?

Gun-rights groups say, “Yes, it does!” They add, “Not only that, don’t even think about watering it down.” Then they bully our elected representatives into supporting their view. Members of Congress back off. They flinch. They quiver. They don’t act.

They’re smart enough to know how to craft legislation that perhaps can make it just a bit tougher to purchase an assault weapon.

Yes, I know what you might ask: Would any law have prevented the slaughter in Parkland? My answer? I have no earthly idea.

I do believe that we cannot let our lack of assurance about the effectiveness of these laws prevent our elected lawmakers from seeking solutions.

Moreover, I also believe that the Second Amendment is written broadly enough to allow for some controls on the weapons we allow and on those who can purchase them. I know we have restrictions already on who can purchase these weapons. I also know those restrictions aren’t limiting the tragedy that keeps recurring.

Can’t we do better? I believe we can.

I also believe we must.

Oops … congressman caught with assault rifle

Ken Buck is a Colorado member of Congress who, I guess, likes to be photographed with high-powered weapons.

He needs to take care where he records these events.

The Republican lawmaker was photographed recently packing an AR-15 assault rifle. He was posing with fellow GOP U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.


What’s the problem?

The District of Columbia prohibits these kinds of weapons. Thus, Buck may have broken the federal district’s gun laws.

Buck calls the rifle a “beautiful, patriotic paperweight.” It’s pained red, white and blue.

Local laws are to be followed, correct? So, if the District of Columbia bans ownership of these firearms, does it prosecute a member of Congress for breaking the law?

Let’s all stay tuned to this one.


Proposed ammo ban draws fire

So, a proposal by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to ban ammunition used in assault rifles has become a target by those who say hunters actually use these weapons to hunt wild game.

The weapon at issue is the AR-15, which is virtually identical to the M-16 rifle soldiers have been issued when they go to duty in combat zones.

The ammo in question is a .223-caliber bullet that is tipped with material designed to produce maximum penetration.


ATF wants to ban the ammo. Gun-rights supporters contend it’s another step toward disarming law-abiding Americans. It isn’t. It’s designed to protect law enforcement officers who could be killed by those using these weapons in anger.

Still, some on the right have suggested that the ban would occur by presidential executive action. That’s not the case. This notion is coming from a law enforcement agency.

The Hill reports that lawmakers have asked ATF to pull back the proposal. According to The Hill: “Under no circumstances should ATF adopt a standard that will ban ammunition that is overwhelmingly used by law-abiding Americans for legitimate purposes,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter to ATF Director B. Todd Jones.

The Constitution’s Second Amendment, of course, is the centerpiece of the opposition to the proposal. The Second Amendment does not guarantee the manufacture and distribution of weapons and ammunition that police deem to be dangerous beyond all reason.

There remain plenty of opportunities — even if the ATF ban goes into effect — for law-abiding citizens to “keep and bear arms.”

George Zimmerman should have gone away quietly

I’ve been thinking for the past little while about George Zimmerman, the guy who was acquitted of murdering Florida teenager Trayvon Martin in that terrible case, which drew international attention.

My thoughts have been this: If I had been found not guilty of a crime that had drawn such intense scrutiny, I just might find a way to go quietly into the night, never to be heard from again.

Zimmerman has chosen quite a different path since his acquittal.


He and his wife have separated and are headed for divorce.

And now we have this case involving his alleged threatening of his girlfriend with some kind of firearm, a shotgun, a high-powered rifle, a pistol … something.

The latest involving Zimmerman reveals that he possesses a number of weapons, including an AR-15 assault rifle. If you’ve never seen an AR-15, they look and operate very much like an M-16 — the kind of rifle soldiers were issued when they went to Vietnam way back when.

AR-15s, as well as M-16s, are extremely deadly weapons. They fire a bullet that is barely bigger than a .22-caliber round, but they inflict maximum damage with these high-velocity projectiles.

I guess it’s not illegal to own these kinds of weapons in Florida. A judge ordered him to surrender them after Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to the charges of endangerment leveled against him.

This matters to me only because of Zimmerman’s standing as someone who was in the news — a lot — because he was accused of killing that teenager in a confrontation that occurred on a dark street one night in Sanford, Fla. He became the poster boy for — depending on your point of view — for vigilante justice or for citizens’ rights to self-protection.

I would have thought Zimmerman had gone through enough public scrutiny. He avoided punishment for a high-profile crime. He should have left town, sneaking away without being detected.

Oh, but no. He’s back in the news once again.

And he’s still packing heat.

Hasn’t this guy had enough of the limelight? Apparently not.