Why Would Anyone Want to Keep an Assault Rifle?

In 1973, my dad sold his old Datsun pick-up truck for $100 dollars and a Universal .30 Caliber carbine semi-automatic rifle. It came with a five shot and a ten shot clip. It's referred to as the M1. It weighs 5.2 pounds, has a full length of 35.6 inches with a barrel length of 18 inches. It has a gas operated, rotating bolt action and its rate of fire is 850 to 900 rounds per minute...if it was a fully automatic rifle. It became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S. and foreign military, paramilitary and police forces, and has also been a popular civilian firearm. It was also the same type of weapon my dad carried as a United States Marine Corporal in WWII when he went to the Pacific to fight the Japanese.

This was the weapon of choice by Charles Whitman. The sniper who climbed into the tower at the University of Texas campus on August 1, 1966, killing 13 and wounding 32. He was a crack shot and the police were outgunned. If not for citizens coming to their aid with their own firearms, Whitman might not have been subdued as quickly as he was. But, I digress...which is common for me.

This particular weapon is in the category of 'assault' weapon. It's the only one of this kind I have in my possession. I have used it to kill on three occasions. In 1974, our german shepherd, Zeus, had heartworms that infected his lungs and caused them to rupture. He was in terrible pain and bleeding from the mouth. It would have taken me an hour to get him to the vet, so I chose to end his life as quickly as I could. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. It was 1977 when a stray dog came up to the house. It was frothing at the mouth and snarling; snapping at the air and acting very aggressive. It took two rounds to kill him. The veterinarian was called out and he took the animal for study. He was confirmed to have rabies two weeks later after his head was sent to Austin for evaluation. In 1978 I downed an eight point buck at 71 yards with this rifle, hitting him right between the eyes. He dressed out 103 lbs and provided us with some great steaks and deer sausage. I haven't fired it since.

The only time I ever pointed it at a human being was when I worked for the Hardin County Sheriff's Department in the mid '80's. It was around midnight when the deputy and I made a felony stop of two bad actors with rap sheets that involved violence. They pulled over and I stepped out of the cruiser and crouched behind the car door with the carbine on top of it. The two got out acting like they were angry at being stopped until they saw the barrel of that .30 caliber saying hello. Their attitude quickly changed and they were highly cooperative with the deputy.

It has been in my gun safe for over twenty years now. I took it out four weeks ago and handed it over to a gunsmith for cleaning, oiling and verifying the action was still sound. The gunsmith fired it several times. I never did. After that, I put it back in the gun safe.

This rifle is very special to me. My father died in October, 1999, one of the dwindling number of men that are often referred to as the Greatest Generation. He wanted me to have that weapon as a token of his pride in having served and for me to have a physical reminder of what it took to keep us free from tyranny. I only post this because I have been listening to the TV news and the radio news and reading the newspapers where the question keeps being asked..."Why does anyone want to keep an assault weapon?"

My answer is...well, I just told you. If these types of weapons are ever totally banned...not just for future sale, but made against the law to possess...I will tell you now that I will then be a criminal. I will not give it up peacefully. Not saying I'll shoot anybody...just saying it won't happen until after the fight. You can interpret that any way you like.