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3 Reasons Full-Auto Shooting Belongs on Your Bucket List

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Every shooter, no matter how casual, should shoot full-auto at least once. Here’s why.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a piece about why we pro-gun people shouldn’t use the term “assault weapon” when we talk about the civilian-legal, semi-automatic “black guns” built on the AR-15 platform. Today, I’m going to completely reverse myself and say it over and over like a third-grader who just learned what that word Mommy says to bad drivers really means (and I’m going to enjoy it every bit as much). That’s because every one of us should have the experience of shooting a fully automatic rifle or pistol at least once in our lives, and that will be the time–the only time, for many of us–that we ever get behind the trigger of a real assault weapon. Here’s why that experience needs to be on your bucket list, even and especially if you’re really not very “into” guns.

1. It will erase any doubt about what an assault weapon is.

There are a surprising number of people out there who consider themselves to be generally pro-Second Amendment who find modern sporting rifles–AR-15 and semi-auto AK-47 platforms–distasteful. In the world of gun journalism, they frequently get called “Fudds,” as in Elmer Fudd. That’s not entirely fair; after all, there’s nothing wrong with having your own opinions about what guns you personally would and would not want to own. However, it does tend to get messy when someone who really ought to know better shoots his or her mouth off about whether or not we “need” AR-15s. That scandal I referenced in the last link was 13 years ago, and Jim Zumbo is back in the good graces of pro-2A people everywhere, but I’m going to guess that he never would have made that mistake in the first place if he’d hit Knob Creek for a nice machine gun shoot.

Shooting a real assault weapon–a gun that can fire multiple projectiles with a single trigger pull–demonstrates in a visceral way what is and is not a machine gun that needs to be regulated under the NFA. There’s nothing quite like touching a trigger, hearing a FP, and realizing that 30 rounds had gone downrange by the time you registered that the gun had fired. This is the type of gun that costs at least $8K to purchase, takes six months to be licensed to own, and costs$200 to register with the government.

2. It’s the most fun you can have with your pants on (and in my case, it lasts longer).

One of the dumbest tropes that anti-gunners like to spout is that the mere presence of military-looking but semi-automatic firearms is enough to turn law-abiding citizens into drooling, destructive morons. That is not true. However, if you’d like the experience of being Beavis (of Beavis and Butt-Head fame) for about 30 seconds, you need to go put 30 rounds of 9mm through a full-auto Uzi. Here’s what’s going to happen: The gun will go FP. You will gaze in idiot wonder for a moment, and then you will start doing this:

Settle down, Trace.

You may have noticed my use of the onomatopoiea to describe what happens when you pull the trigger of a real assault weapon (FP). If you’ve shot full auto, you know why. If you haven’t, then know that it happens so quickly that nobody is capable of imitating the sound accurately. It’s too fast. The recoil will drive the gun’s muzzle up or to the side if you don’t have your support hand firmly on the barrel shroud, but you won’t really know it’s happened until it’s over. At that point, you will realize that you just turned \$15 into noise. I challenge anyone to do that, and not break into a demented giggle for at least a few seconds. When you throw in the opportunity to do a real range-based machine gun shoot with targets like cars and washing machines, it’s an experience that will line itself in the golden light of sheer joyous abandon in your memory for the rest of your life.

3. Because you still can, but that may not last forever.

As a GGD reader, you already know that true assault weapons are already heavily regulated to the point that most Americans can’t afford to own one, let alone jump through the multiple legal hoops. However, as of now, it’s still possible to go to a range and rent one for a little while…and, in fact, such things are very popular tourist activities in places like Hawaii. (Which is quite interesting in light of the fact that Hawaii has terrible gun laws, and they keep getting worse.)

That may not last. The anti-gunners’ strategy has always been to marginalize the legal ownership of a specific gun type, then attempt to outlaw that marginalized type of gun because it no longer falls under the “commonly used” or “typically possessed” firearm that the Second Amendment is considered to protect since the landmark 2008 District of Columbia vs Heller Supreme Court decision. Because the courts have adjudicated that the Second Amendment doesn’t necessarily protect the right to keep and bear a real assault weapon (a decision I disagree with strongly, but that’s a column for another day), the ability to go shoot one for funzies could disappear quickly and there’s not much we pro-gunners could do about it. So make hay while the sun is shining…or, more specifically, make old cars into Swiss cheese while the law still lets you.

Also, you should do it because every time someone empties a 100-round magazine into a broken refrigerator, Nancy Pelosi gets heartburn and doesn’t know why.