Scary truth about guns and more

50 calThe American Second Amendment has been a topic of contention for many years now. Those who have an opinion about the purpose of the Second Amendment strongly believe in their stance. Before I joined the United States Marine Corps shortly after the attacks on September 11 2001, I had no stance. I never had a desire to go fire a gun, I believed strongly in the police as a form of civil protection, and of course still do. However, since my experiences while serving, I have come to believe in the idea of the Second Amendment. I have grown to enjoy the challenge of taking my firearms to the range. It’s my own little form of escape from the challenges of life and a way to push myself.

With the recent issues in the news and the past effort to ban assault weapons, I find myself shaking my head. Don’t get me wrong, I strongly believe in the idea of the Second Amendment and I believe in more freedom. However, if I were to support the idea of banning certain weapons, I think the government is working to restrict the wrong weapons.

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Home grown terrorists are one of the threats currently facing America. Banning assault weapons and limiting magazines are the least of our worries. What most American’s don’t seem to realize is how easy it is to obtain significant firearms and explosives legally in this country. Any U.S. citizen who can pass a background check can purchase a high powered, .50 calliber sniper rifle which is easily accurate to over a mile and a maximum range of almost 4 miles. At that range and beyond, it becomes a very difficult equation as the shooter has to adjust for wind, humidity, elevation and even the rotation of the earth. Granted, there are few who can make this kind of a shot without some training, let alone afford the price tag ranging from $6,000 to upwards of $20,000.

The scary part of this is that your normal, over the counter .50 cal round and even down to the .338 Lapua and smaller can have some level of armor piercing due to the sheer size and speed of the bullet. The .338 Lapua can go through an engine block at a range of 500 yards. I’m sure you can imagine the sheer destructive power that these legal weapons will allow a potential shooter. It is even possible to legally purchase super incendiary rounds for these weapons which can burn at around 1,000 degrees celsius.

It doesn’t stop with high powered weapons, since, again, any U.S. citizen can legally purchase — let alone make — their own explosives with items from the grocery store. The U.S. company Tannerite manufactures a highly stable binary explosive (two chemicals mixed together) of which only 50-100 lbs. can easily destroy a cement truck (YouTube “tannerite”). Again, you can imagine the potential destructive power. Granted, it is illegal to mix more than 50 lbs. at a time here in the states but that doesn’t stop someone with nefarious intents.

Finally, it is possible to  legally purchase body armor and depending on your budget, you can obtain armor rated to stop up to armor piecing rounds in most standard rifles. This would allow the user significant protection from almost all weapons used by our city and state police forces, giving the potential shooter added time to cause as much destruction as possible. Here in Colorado there are a number of stores that sell body armor over the counter with the passing of a background check.

During the last year I was able to legally obtain all of this equipment. I purchased 80 pounds of tannerite, one high powered sniper rifle with scope, bipod and rounds to spare and finally approval, without purchase, for body armor rated to stop high powered rifles. To me, this is much scarier than a man with a 30-round magazine. In the wrong hands with the proper training, a potential shooter could detonate a large bomb over a mile away from the intended target potentially causing mass panic and significant loss of life.

I don’t know what the answer is to keeping our country safe but my personal approach as a former Marine is to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activity to local authority. However, I also believe that it is up to me to ensure my own safety and others’ in the event of an incident it takes time for our brave officers to respond. As an American I strongly believe it is our responsibility to protect each other from harm so that events like the theater shooting in Aurora last year don’t repeat themselves.

Content producer Darin Hinman can be reached at news@collegian.com.