NRA Explore

.50 Caliber Rifles And Ammunition: Latest Anti-Gun Targets Of Opportunity

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

With the demise of the Clinton Gun Ban, and several independent studies for the federal government showing that the "assault weapons" ban was ill-conceived, gun prohibitionists have found new firearms to demonize--those chambered to fire the vintage .50 BMG cartridge.

A fear-mongering campaign to demonize both those firearms and the hobbyists who own them began in earnest. CBS's "60 Minutes" used its Jan. 9, 2005, edition to portray .50 caliber rifles as being "too dangerous to be in the hands of private citizens." (Note: the next day four CBS employees were fired for their roles in Dan Rather's report on President Bush's National Guard service. The firings came after an independent panel said CBS had failed to follow basic journalistic principles and then compounded that failure with a "rigid and blind" defense.)

So what, the gun banners say, if these rifles aren't used in crimes--they might be one day. If that sounds familiar, it should. That's the same language U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) used to help Bill Clinton attack semi-automatics more than a decade ago.

And these crimes of the future would not be just any crimes, of course. .50 caliber rifles won't be used by street criminals to rob liquor stores, or to settle disputes between rival drug trafficking gangs, or commit other crimes that actually happen. Anti-gunners in the post 9/11 world can't resist "playing the terrorist card." An example is Congressman Jim Moran (D-Va.), who rages about "a number of different, horrifying scenarios in which these weapons could be employed."

In the real world, who really owns these firearms and what are they used for? Twenty years ago, the Fifty Caliber Shooters Association, Inc. (FCSA) was founded by a group of dedicated marksmen who banded together in order to advance the sporting uses of the .50 caliber cartridge and advance the art of long-range accuracy shooting with .50 caliber rifles. The FCSA, an NRA affiliate, today holds 1000-yd. shooting competitions around the country.

In keeping with the historical tradition of American firearms development, the FCSA shares the knowledge gained through long-range target shooting with law-enforcement and the military. Civilian gun owners, working together with the nation's armed forces, have improved equipment and skills, to the benefit of both the military and the shooting sports.

Costing thousands of dollars, measuring 4-5 ft. in length, and weighing 22-34 lbs., .50 caliber rifles are much too expensive and cumbersome for run-of-the-mill lowlifes. But, claim a few of the most radical anti-gun activists, they might--just might--;be used to commit the types of crimes found only in the pages of "action" novels and on movie and TV screens. Ridiculous in the extreme, this fear-mongering is currently being peddled by--you guessed it--the Violence Policy Center (VPC). Those who are familiar with the group might say, "Consider the source," given its cynical positions and preposterous claims over the years.

For many years, VPC has said that handguns should be banned because they are too small, but now says that .50 caliber rifles should be banned because they are too big. The VPC will never agree that there is a gun that is "just right" for the American people.

.50 Caliber Rifle Facts

  • .50 caliber rifles are not used in crimes--.50 caliber rifles are too large and heavy to be employed in normal criminal behavior.
  • .50 caliber rifles are also among the most expensive made, confining their purchase to dedicated marksmen and collectors.
  • Most people who own .50 caliber rifles are long-range target shooting experts. For more than a century, long-range target shooting competitions have attracted marksmen, and modern .50 caliber rifles are among the most accurate for long-range shooting.
  • .50 caliber rifle ammunition is not new. Contrary to anti-gunners' wild claims, the ammunition used in these rifles was invented shortly after World War I.
  • Despite outlandish claims from anti-gunners, Mk211 military ammunition is strictly controlled by the U.S. Armed Forces and not available to the general public.
  • Gun banners argue that because some .50 caliber rifles are used by the military, they should not be available to private individuals. This rejects the wisdom of the Founding Fathers, who, beyond any question, placed their faith in the people.
  • American citizens have comprised the Militia of the United States under federal law since 1792. They have always owned the same small arms as are used in the military, and their practice and improvement in the use of these firearms has been encouraged by federal law since 1903.
.50 Caliber Rifles


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.