I'd like to preface this by saying that I'm neither a firearms expert, nor am I opposed to legal, controlled ownership of weapons in my country.

However, I take issue with the idea that assault weapon is anything but a value-neutral description of the purpose of those types of weapons. An assault weapon is a weapon with a high rate of fire, designed for use by soldiers during combat, in order to kill large numbers of people indiscriminately. It is true that a firearm is not offensive or defensive, but for the intent of it's operator. But ignoring that technological advances in weaponry cause them to have a higher potential for abuse seems convenient only for those interested in owning such weapons.

Furthermore, the definition "Any type of firearm that could save your life in an emergency." seems so vague as to be totally useless. Could a .22 target pistol save your life? Certainly, in some situations. Could a grenade launcher? I'm sure that once in a great while, yes. What about an M-1 tank? A slingshot?

Now having said all that, I do agree with Draeis' point that penalties for use of a firearm for criminal activities should be uniformly severe--for the same reasons that "Basic Self Defense Gun" is vague. Any firearm, no matter how underpowered or overpowered, could be used to do what firearms are designed for: kill.

I also think that recognizing the increased potential for greater abuse by technologically advanced weaponry requires stricter controls on said weaponry, and that those who cry "my rights" ignore that the rights of the individual must be weighed against the inherent potential for infringing on the rights of others with certain devices and technology.

Consider: would it be within my rights to construct an atomic weapon on my property? Even if a mishap would destroy, not just my property and family, but the property and families of everyone in town?

Contrariwise: there are people who are qualified to own high-powered weapons. I believe this issue is best handled by greater controls, better education, and stricter rules for determining who is qualified. The all-or-nothing stance of pro-firearms groups incites widespread opposition because it ignores something that is apparent to anyone who has ever fired a gun. They are dangerous and deadly.

Now, I am not a firearms expert, but every gun enthusiast I've asked agrees: for home defense, a sawed-off shotgun is your best bet. This makes sense to me: you just point it in the right general direction and pull the trigger.

I think that one would also have to determine their needs and level of paranoia to properly answer this question. Are you simply looking for something to shoot a burglar with? Do you expect to have to fend off a crowd from your candy store during a riot? Are you planning for the chaos after society collapses? Do you intend to fight off an attempt by police or other heavily-armed group such as rival drug dealers to take you into custody and/or kill you?

The above-mentioned shotgun is suitable for close-range intimidation as well as for clearing a crowd, but while a double-barreled shotgun is satisfactory for the former, only a pump shotgun is useful for the latter, unless it is a small crowd.

If you are of a survivalist mentality, then you require at least two, and as many as four weapons at a minimum; the shotgun, possibly a bolt-action rifle for hunting, and one or two (one small backup revolver) pistols for personal defense. The backup should be a revolver as it is the most reliable, and cannot jam.

(Another advantage to a revolver is that almost anyone can operate it. There is no safety to worry about, and if you hold an automatic pistol wrong, the slide can break your thumb.)

For serious defense, I suggest you get a minimum of five weapons; shotgun, a semiautomatic rifle, two or three pistols (including the backup), and a semiautomatic single-shot .50 caliber rifle.

I add the .50-cal, as that round (the same one used in a heavy machine gun) will defeat any armored vehicle short of a tank, including so-called "bulletproof" cars. (I am not advocating trying to defeat an armored vehicle, I am only pointing out that if you are going to be serious about it, you should arm yourself with a weapon that is able to do the job.) This can also be used in a "road warrior" situation where your enemy taunts you from a distance thinking he is out of range. A .50-cal bullet can travel accurately for over 2,500 yards.

Another reason to have a backup weapon is that under some circumstances it is better to remove the choice of your fate from your opponent. Depending on who is trying to get their hands on you, eating a bullet may be the easiest way out of the situation if you end up cornered.

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