In my home state of Alabama, law enforcement officers from the city of Tuscaloosa recently attended a press conference on gun violence. This was organized by local NAACP chapter president Jerry Carter in response to a recent surge of violent crimes committed by teenagers.

Carter, a U.S. Air Force veteran who lost his own son to a violent act 10 years ago, listed a handful of victims from recent years, including a 5-year-old boy struck by a bullet at a Christmas party, a 2-year-old shot at an apartment complex and a 4-year-old hit when someone was targeting her adult family members during a drive-by.

“I can’t really stomach it anymore,” Carter stated. “This … violence has got to stop. It’s totally out of control.”

Intended Weapons

With that, Carter also mentioned that he’s not against people’s rights to own guns. “But the types of weapons, I’m not on board with,” he said. “People riding around with assault rifles, spraying up shopping centers. I just don’t think that’s what the Constitution intended.”

Well, Mr. Carter, you are certainly right about that part. The Constitution never intended for crazy people to ride around with guns and shoot people in a shopping mall! The Founding Fathers of the United States never supported bad people committing violent acts. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. Our Founding Fathers supported good people defending themselves against violence. And our Constitution intended to protect us — the law-abiding citizens — and safeguard our natural right to defend ourselves and our loved ones against the very people Carter is speaking about.

What Is an Assault Rifle?

I get it. Carter is focused on the weapon itself — the big, black, bad, scary gun. But do you know what an assault rifle truly is? Just for kicks, I Googled “What is an assault rifle?” to see what information would pop up first. I discovered this definition: “a rapid-fire, magazine-fed automatic rifle designed for infantry use.” Not surprisingly, I also found this right afterward: “a rifle that resembles a military assault rifle but is designed to allow only semi-automatic fire.”

Interesting how people have infiltrated our reference tools and inserted interpretations. Well, so be it, then. Here’s my interpretation: An assault rifle is any kind of rifle being used by an evildoer to attack someone. In other words, it’s a weapon that a violent person is using to harm or kill others. (Or, to use the active voice and clarify the subject and who is actually taking the action of the verb: The term “assault weapon” refers to a violent person using a gun to assault people.)

Of special note here: It’s the person who is performing the assault, NOT the gun. So, Mr. Carter, the violence you so want to eradicate (as we all do!) is the fault of those people who are committing the crimes, not the fault of the tools in their hands. So, in that case, the Constitution never intended for us to have your so-called “assault rifles.”

Defense Weapons

Just to be fair-minded, let’s look at the flip side of this contention. Just because madmen are using firearms as assault rifles doesn’t mean that that’s what those firearms are. If that truly is the method we’re using for description, then for me, for other responsibly armed Americans and for our Founding Fathers, these assault weapons should actually be labeled defense weapons. Because that’s why we have them — for self-defense and self-preservation. And that’s exactly what our Constitution intended to protect — the natural right of law-abiding people to defend themselves against violent acts with their firearms … whatever make, model, caliber or color the guns happen to be.

About Beth Alcazar

Beth Alcazar, the author of Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals, associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine and creator of the Pacifiers & Peacemakers blog, has enjoyed nearly two decades of working and teaching in the firearms industry. Beth is passionate about safe and responsible firearms use and enthusiastic about teaching others. She is certified as an instructor through SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute, DRAW School, TWAW and I.C.E. Training and is a USCCA Certified Instructor and Senior Training Counselor.