Who the Hell Hunts With a Machine Gun Anyway?

While America is reeling in shock over the senseless shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and mourning those lost in a volley of peacetime machine gun fire, the papers are rehashing the same questions posed whenever a mass killing makes the news: “Why did this happen?” and “How can we prevent this kind of thing in the future?”

Predictably, politicians from both sides of the fence are weighing in on gun control or the culpability shared by violent Hollywood movies (and even cartoons like Family Guy and American Dad—both of which were preempted by Fox this week because of the tragedy). What we’re not hearing in the mainstream media is any mention of the leading role that sport hunting plays in promoting guns and perpetuating violence.

The latest school shooter, Adam Lanza, and the D.C. Beltway snipers, John Mohammad and John Malvo, all used a Bushmaster .223 hunting/assault rifle to carry out their killings. It was also the weapon used in the Colorado theater shooting, and in a host of other homicidal meltdowns.

The .223 semi-automatic can fire 6 rounds per second (okay, if you want to split hairs, it’s not technically considered a machine gun because you have to hit the hair-trigger with each shot), but what makes it so deadly is the way the bullet reacts on impact: It’s designed to bounce around inside the body once it makes contact with bone.


Why is such a lethal assault rifle legal for non-military civilians to own? According to the manufacturer, they are intended to be used for hunting animals. As the NRA well knows, hunting has been used to justify the private ownership of some of the most destructive weapons ever invented.

But who the Hell really hunts with a machine gun anyway? Unfortunately, some folks do. One thrill-killer describes his sport this way: “Prairie dog hunting is a blast, on both private and public lands. I like to start by clearing everything within 50 yards with an AR-15, then switch to my .223 Remington for anything out to about 150 and finally trade up to the bull barrel .22-250 for the longer shots.”

And those who mass murder coyotes seem to feel entitled to the deadliest of armaments as well. A recent “contest hunt” offered up a free shotgun or a pair of semi-automatic rifles to whoever murdered the most canines. The terms of the competition were simple: hunters in New Mexico had two days to shoot and kill as many coyotes as they could; the winner got their choice of a Browning Maxus 12-gauge shotgun or two AR-15 semi-automatic rifles. (The AR-15 is the civilian version of the military’s M16 that has been in production since Vietnam.) “Nothing’s gonna stop me,” said Mark Chavez, the hunt’s sponsor, and the owner of Gunhawk Firearms “This is my right to hunt and we’re not breaking any laws.”

Bushmaster describes their .223 as a “Varmint Rifle.” Oh really? That shines new light on what some of these politicians really mean when they say they only hunt “varmints.” I’ve never been an invited guest at George W. Bush’s ranch in Crawford Texas; therefore I can only guess that this is the type of weapon the self-proclaimed “varmint” hunter uses when he goes up against a family of scary ground squirrels, marmots or a town of talkative prairie dogs.

Larger caliber Bushmaster models are categorized as “Predator Rifles.”


Ironically, it was Lanza’s mother, Nancy, who taught young Adam how to shoot. She was an avid gun enthusiast who legally owned a Sig Sauer and a Glock (both handguns commonly used by police) and a military-style Bushmaster .223 M4 carbine, according to law enforcement officials. As it turns out, it was one of her guns that her son turned on her before using them in his attack on the students and teachers of Sandy Hook Elementary…

See also, “Honor Thy Father and Mother, Except When They Misbehave.”

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved

Text and Wildlife Photography ©Jim Robertson, 2012. All Rights Reserved


28 thoughts on “Who the Hell Hunts With a Machine Gun Anyway?

  1. Guns are for killing and should not be allowed in a civilized society. I would personally like to see every gun confiscated and melted down. Let the hunters, NRA, and other gun nuts be damned.

  2. The right to keep guns is basic self-defense and it should not be taken away because lawbreakers can use guns to kill. They could use knives as shown by all the knife murder attacks on children in China lately, they could use molotov cocktails, or many other things. Murderers and lawbreakers are not dissuaded by laws.

    It’s the hunting and killing of animals that has to be stopped, and their enslavement or any abuses as well of course. It’s all subhuman behavior and subhumanity will go on committing violent crimes and killing each other. My basic right of self defense as a law abiding citizen in all this should not be taken away, and all “gun laws” are aimed only at law abiding people and are stepping stones (with a ratchet effect) to completely disarming all of us law abiders. It makes no sense and is just wrong.

  3. If I read that ‘guns don’t kill people do’ one more time I’ll scream. Guns are only made to kill or injure, they are not like cars that are made to convey people from point A to point B but occasionally are involved in a death. The irrational justifications for owning guns by some people defy reason. Harking back to an 18th century right is stupid. It was written in a totally different social context.
    I live in australia, 500 metres from a massacre site where in 1987 a Gun Nut, whose brother and sister went to school with two of my sons, killed 7 people and wounded 19. About ten years later after a series of gun massacres, culminating in 33 people being killed in Port Arthur, the most conservative prime minister in Australia’s history outlawed semi automatic guns, the weapon of choice for mass murders who like to kill a lot of people at the one time. People need to justify why they need a gun, vague ideas about self defence don’t wash. Sadly hunters can have non automatic rifles, but that’s another issue. These type of crimes have ceased to occur in Australia since these laws were passed, and hopefully will never return. My family was further touched by gun madness when my husband’s cousin and her husband were randomly killed by a gunman on a killing spree 2 years ago in Cumbria UK.
    America has some wonderful people who want gun control and oppose the senseless stock piling of assault weapons. I say, all power to them. Lets hope their cause prevails.

    • I’m with you 100%, Amanda. As the owner/collector of around a dozen semi-automatic military rifles and handguns, I’d gladly turn them all in tomorrow for melting down if all private citizens in America were compelled to do likewise. The only indivduals in need of such weapons are the police and military. All others are simply Walter Mitty types who like to dress up in camo and fantasize about becoming survivalist Rambos. If self-defense is really the issue, a single-action revolver should be all that anybody would need to fend off an attacker. Beyond that, it is figuratively and literally a matter of overkill. And as a spin-off benefit, taking all of this lethal paraphernalia out of the hands of the sport hunting whack-job scum that infest this country would be of INCALCULABLE benefit to non-human animals.

      I’m gratified to hear that Australians, unlike Americans, have the good sense to not allow a handful of gun-toting thugs quoting some ambiguous phrase on a piece of moldering parchment to override the intersts of the majority of your citizens in not getting shot!

  4. I can’t understand this. I also own a modest amount of weapons in my home, but they are always locked up and unloaded. I never even intend to use them on anyone or thing so I really don’t need them, but while growing up and going to school in the 90s we had shop classes where I saw people creating “shears” for their guns, I even learned how to make one myself. So we should consider disarming the public after what happen to another young man in Florida who was shot and killed thanks to a man who thought he saw a barrel of a gun and fired 8 times into the SUV and then drove away thinking no one was hurt. The NRA is a fear mongering organization telling people that “the world is a dangerous place and the only way to be safe is a gun.” I hike in areas known to have large predators, yet I will never bring my weapon with me because if I can’t go without one, I shouldn’t be out there in the first place.

  5. Pingback: What Sort of Dweeb Needs an AR15? | Exposing the Big Game

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