Monday, September 30, 2013

I Have Rights, Too!

- But, do I actually exercise all of them?
In the United States of America, you have a few “rights” not afforded other folks around the Globe. Most of these “rights” are predicated on your age, and most of these “rights” are illegal for you to engage in if you are not yet eighteen years old. If you have come of age, in most instances you have the right to:
·        Vote
·        Drink an alcoholic beverage
·        Sign legally binding documents
·        Get married
·        Become an astronautServe in the military
·        Own a firearm
·        Get a legal abortion
·        Become a Federal Legislator
·        Become President
·        And, of course -

                                                  - Yup, been there, too.

This is just a short rendition of a very long list of “rights” we enjoy as citizens of this Nation. I’m certain that you can easily add to this list. My point is, just because you have the “right” to do something, do you actually do it? I can only speak for myself, so I will attempt to come up with a fairly accurate accounting for some of the “rights” I do, and don’t, exercise.
·        I must say that I do vote, and have done so ever since I turned eighteen. I guess it was instilled in me by my parents, and fortified by my three years of military service. But, I do find that, military service or not, a vast majority of people in this Country never have, or will, see the inside of a polling place. I guess they can’t be bothered, and don’t feel their vote means anything. In my eyes, this is the largest travesty plaguing our democracy. 

·        As far as drinking alcoholic beverages, I kind of jumped the gun on that one. I was about thirteen when I first imbibed. But, I know people who have never touched the stuff.
·        The very first legally binding contract I signed was with the U.S. Army. Since then there have been many. It’s been my experience that there are a lot of folks who have never, nor will they ever, sign a legal document during their lifetime.

·        When it comes to marriage, I’ve been down the aisle three times, and that’s all I’m going to mention about that. There are certainly those who choose not to marry, and that statistic is rising at an alarming rate.

·        I’ve covered the military thing, now I can toss being an astronaut (fear of heights), becoming President (fear of Republicans), being a Federal Legislator (fear of Republicans).

  •         As far as the question of getting an abortion, first of all I do not possess any of the needed body parts. But, if I did, I’m can pretty much say for certain that, with my brand of sexually active lifestyle, I would have opted to exercise that “right” once, perhaps more.. With my attitude, in general, I would have opened a can of “whoop-ass” on anybody who tried to stop me. There isn’t a government or church on the face of this Earth that has the “right” to force a woman to take a pregnancy to full term. It is her decision, and hers alone. And, if you don’t have that necessary parts to be a “her”, then you are a “him” and have no leg to stand on. So, shut up                                          and sit down!                                       

·        Now let’s tackle the “right to bear arms”, as per the 2nd Amendment to our Constitution. Having had the opportunity to play with guns when I was nineteen, I made the very conscious choice to not bear arms in my tenure as a civilian (43 years). So, just how Many Americans exercise this “right” to bear arms? The answer I found was actually more than I would have guessed, but, even though more people own guns that vote, gun ownership in this Country is definitely a scourge against our National character.

        “Most estimates range between 39% and 50% of US households having at least one gun (that's about 43-55         million households). The estimates for the number of privately owned guns range from 190 million to 300 million. Removed those that skew the stats for their own purposes the best estimates are about 45% or 52 million of American households owning 260 million guns). 
Some recent estimates:
- A 2011 Gallup poll estimates that 47 percent of US households own a gun.
- A 2007 Small Arms Survey estimates there are 88.7 guns per 100 Americans (#1 in the world for guns per capita)
- A 2010 estimate from the NRA states "Privately owned firearms in the U.S.: Approaching 300 million, including     nearly 100 million handguns. The number of firearms rises over 4 million annually." [1]

Although our Federal Government downplays the amounts, the sales of your typical assault rifle reached an all-time high of 100,000 units in 2010 [4]. Why all the fascination with assault rifles? I can only conclude that everyone who purchases such a weapon yearns to be in uniform. Take a quick look at a couple of reviews of the most popular models:

The M16-A2 is the standard issue rifle. It's carried by pretty much every soldier in a combat zone. Most people simply call it the M-16. The M-16 has been around in one version or another since the Vietnam War (the first version, the M16A1 entered Army service in 1964). Its longevity is creditable to its usefulness as a general assault weapon. It's quite simply one of the finest military rifles ever made (although advocates of the M-4 Carbine may argue with me). The rifle is lightweight, simple to operate, and puts out a lot of lead.” [2]

”The AK-47 design history started as the Germans had designed and manufactured the StG44 assault rifle. The German research showed that most fire fights took place within 300 meters, as the power and range of other weaponry was excessive for small arm fire fights, armies had the need for a rifle with submachine gun abilities, like for example large capacity cartridge, and selective firing. Although the StG44 (Sturmgewehr 44) was not the first assault rifle to have these features. The Italian Cei-Rigotti and Russian Fedorov Avtomat where the predecessors.” [3]

I have fired both these weapons in a relatively humid, hot environment, and I can say with certainty the AK-47 was the all-around winner. It seemed to tolerate dirt, mud, and water more successfully than the M16-A2. The M16’s predecessor, the AR15 was a total disaster with constant malfunctions and misfires. The AK-47 is also more easily field stripped and cleaned. At the time, a thirty round clip was not made available for the M16-A2. The extra ten rounds made a world of difference when you needed maximum fire power.

Having said that, I cannot for the life of me understand, or rationalize, the civilian ownership of a weapon even remotely similar to these two. I would prefer that we lived in a Nation and at a time where the ownership of firearms wasn’t at all necessary. I’m enough of a realist to understand that will never happen as long male machismo rules the World. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll live long enough to see what a difference women rulers and leaders would make.

Here are a few more statistics for all the “stat-geeks” among you:

“In 2009, in a declaration made as part of the court case Heller v. District of Columbia, which challenged D.C.’s assault weapons ban, NRA research coordinator Mark Overstreet reported that, from 1986 to 2007, at least 1,626,525 AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles were produced and not exported from the United States. Overstreet suggested that you could use trends in NICS background checks to project future sales of AR-15-style rifles. As of Nov. 30, 2012, the total number of NICS background checks increased by 50.4 percent since the end of 2007. If the number of AR-15 rifles increased similarly, then that means there are at least 2,446,294 AR-15 rifles currently available in the United States.” [5]
 “*Correction, December 20, 2012: This post originally and incorrectly referred to the AR-15 semi-automatic as an "assault rifle." Though the AR-15 could be correctly referred to as an "assault weapon" or an "assault-style rifle," an "assault rifle" specifically refers to a rifle with fully automatic firing capability. The language in the post has been corrected to reflect this distinction.” [5]
“There are no federal restrictions on the ownership of AR-15 rifles in the United States. During the period 1994–2004 variants with certain features such as collapsible stocks, flash suppressors, and bayonet lugs were prohibited for sales to civilians by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, with the included Assault Weapons Ban. Included in this was a restriction on the pistol grip that protrudes beneath the stock, which was considered an accessory feature under the ban and was also subject to restrictions. Some rifles were manufactured with a grip not described under the Ban installed in its place. Those AR-15s that were manufactured with those features, as well as the accompanying full capacity magazines, were stamped "Restricted Military/Government/Law Enforcement/Export Only". The restrictions only applied to guns manufactured after the ban took effect. It was legal to own, sell, or buy any gun built before 1994. Hundreds of thousands of pre-ban ARs were sold during the ban as well as new guns redesigned to be legal.
Since the expiration of the Federal AWB in September 2004,[35] these features became legal in most states.[36] Since the expiration of the ban, the manufacture and sale of then-restricted rifles has resumed completely.
At least five states (NY, NJ, CA, MD, CT) regulate possession of AR-15 rifles either by the restriction of certain features or outright bans of certain manufacturers' models. For example: the "A3" tactical carbine pictured above is legal for sale and possession in the United States generally, but is illegal for sale in California and the Colt AR-15 is banned by name in New Jersey.” [2]