There are many people on both sides of the gun control discussion who claim "expert" status. One of these is Vice President Joe Biden, appointed by President Obama after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary school to chair a committee whose purpose was to develop new ideas to reduce gun violence. Very laudable in everyone's opinion, reducing violence.
The one thing missing from these discussions on the anti-gun lobby side is expertise. Very few people who speak about gun control actually know what they are talking about. Sadly, because they are in positions of authority, their views and opinions are taken as fact by the masses.
Some of my background: I have been shooting for 34 years. I became an NRA-certified instructor at age 16 for rifle, pistol, shotgun and home firearms safety through my gun club. I was on the high school rifle team and an instructor there. I spent ten years on active duty in the Army, the majority of which was as a weapons instructor for everything from pistols to anti-aircraft missiles. I am being considered for an instructor's position with the police department I work for.
In short, I know firearms.
Let's talk terminology first.
1. A clip is not a magazine.
A magazine is either a tube or box-shaped container into which rounds are placed. A clip just clips the rounds together. Every rifle or pistol that is not a single-shot gun has some sort of magazine. NOTE: Revolvers are not pistols; that is a separate classification.
2. "Assault weapon" is a political term of art, it is not a real classification of firearms:
An assault rifle is a selective fire weapon (capable of fully automatic fire) firing an intermediate cartidge. An "assault weapon" is a semi-automatic rifle that may have features similiar in appearance to an assault rifle. The term was adopted by the National Coalition to Ban Handguns to cause confusion, and it has worked.
Okay, that's out of the way and we all know what we are talking about. As a firearms instructor, safety is the number one thing I teach, and have taught for 31 years. Always treat a firearm as if it's loaded, finger off the trigger unless ready to fire, know your backstop (where the bullet will stop), and identify your target. Basic stuff: we walk before we run.
Vice President Biden infamously recommended people buy a double-barrelled shotgun for home protection:
A few problems with these recommendations. First and foremost, one does NOT fire "two blasts into the air"! Remember physics. What goes up must come down. Those slugs or buckshot are coming down somewhere within a quarter mile of the shooter. This is a very dangerous thing to recommend. Most police department specifically forbid the use of "warning shots" for this very reason.
Second, stating a double barrel shotgun is easier to use than an AR-15 is incorrect.
The AR-15 is designed to use an intermediate cartridge, a relatively low power rifle round. Further, it has a buffer assembly designed specifically to reduce recoil. A shotgun, however, uses a high-power shell with a traditional stock design that puts all that recoil straight into the shooter's shoulder. Recoil pad or not, place that incorrectly and you will know it.
What is needed, more than just about anything in the debate about gun control, is accurate information from people who actually know about firearms. Why listen to people who have never fired a gun? Why listen to people who advocate unsafe acts?
For those who have never shot a gun, before you make a decision about something you don't know about, go to a local shop or range and ask questions. Go to a safety class. Fire a gun. It is quite fun and safe.