I like big arguments!
Having already discounted assault rifles as too extreme, I was talking purely about pistols.
In many situations, in fact, a pistol is a "cooler" weapon to have, even for the "gun nut": they are smaller, easier to handle and conceal etc. while rifles are really only good for medium to long-range engagements (aka a real battlefield). No wonder the "noble" officers in armies get issued personal handguns, while the "plebean" soldier gets a big, clumsy rifle.
Rifles make extremely poor self-defense weapons (too large, clumsy, too great a risk of overpenetration, require precise aim and specific training to shoot accurately "gangstah style" from e.g. the hip!), so of course you'll need more ammo to compensate for poor accuracy or just generate a lot of "cover fire". There are some "pocket monsters" like the Viper M16 (an attempt to squeeze the M16 into a SMG-sized package, though I've once seen an even more compact one, with just a pistol grip, ridiculously short barrel and tremendous recoil to match!) but those are just sensationalist experiments, IMO.
The only armed groups regularly using assault rifles without caring about those shortcomings are rebels, guerillas, and Albanian Kalashnikov robber bands in Greece: they are happy with "simply" overpowering the police with a hail of 7.92 mm bullets, and most of them use extended banana clips....
Anyway, my point being that an AR in the hands of a civilian can only be practically used for long-range shooting (without proper training, it's hard to even conduct a columbine-style massacre with it: most shots will just miss ;-)
If it's a case of freedom, how about my damn freedom not to feel threatened by rabid lunatic with a gun?
That's why "freedom" should include allowing you to get your own gun AND give you the legal power to defend yourself, if the authorities cannot guarantee an equal status of disarmament for everyone, at all time. IMO, legally deferring some of the "freedom deterrence" power to ordinary citizens is a good crime-cutting measure, as the state cannot be everywhere, every time.
Unless of course you support the thesis that actual armed criminals are more trustworthy than rabid lunatics, so it's A-OK for them to be armed, because they won't go on random sprees...strictly professional use of illegally acquired firearms, ahoy! ;-)
Last edited by Maes on 01-16-13 at 11:45