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Politicians, pundits and private citizens have been sounding off on Barack Obama’s new push for gun bans, but what do the professionals whose job it is to use guns in the protection of their nation, their fellow countrymen and themselves say?

Watch out.

An open letter has been posted on the Professional Soldiers blog that has been signed as of this writing by more than 1,100 current and former U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers, the Green Berets.

The soldiers say first it’s important to define the issue and set the record straight.

“The terms ‘assault weapon’ and ‘assault rifle’ are often confused,” they say. “According to Bruce H. Kobayashi and Joseph E. Olson, writing in the Stanford Law and Policy Review, ‘Prior to 1989, the term ‘assault weapon’ did not exist in the lexicon of firearms. It is a political term, developed by anti-gun publicists to expand the category of assaults rifles.’”

The Green Berets, who use the weapons, point out the M4A1 carbine is a U.S. military service rifle – it is an assault rifle.”

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“The AR-15 is not an assault rifle. The ‘AR’ in its name does not stand for ‘Assault Rifle’ – it is the designation from the first two letters of the manufacturer’s name – ArmaLite Corporation. The AR-15 is designed so that it cosmetically looks like the M4A1 carbine assault rifle, but it is impossible to configure the AR-15 to be a fully automatic assault rifle. It is a single shot semi-automatic rifle that can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute depending on the skill of the operator. The M4A1 can fire up to 950 rounds per minute. In 1986, the federal government banned the import or manufacture of new fully automatic firearms for sale to civilians. Therefore, the sale of assault rifles are already banned or heavily restricted!”

Likewise, they say, a ban on “high-capacity” magazines would be irrelevant, pointing to the shooting by Eric Harris at Columbine High School as proof. The letter explains that when the first weapons ban was adopted in 1994, manufacturers retooled their products to meet the requirements of the law.

“One of those ban-compliant firearms was the Hi-Point 995, which was sold with ten-round magazines. In 1999, five years into the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, the Columbine High School massacre occurred. One of the perpetrators, Eric Harris, was armed with a Hi-Point 995. Undeterred by the ten-round capacity of his magazines, Harris simply brought more of them: thirteen magazines would be found in the massacre’s aftermath. Harris fired 96 rounds before killing himself.”

And, underlying the issue, the letter says, is the Constitution’s assurance of protection for the “sacrosanct” right of self-defense.

“Our Constitution established a system of governance that preserves, protects, and holds sacrosanct the individual rights and primacy of the governed as well as providing for the explicit protection of the governed from governmental tyranny and/or oppression,” they say..

They write that it is easy to blame guns, but weapons aren’t really the problem. Civilized society already proves it, they contend.

“We cite the experience in Great Britain,” they write. In 1987 was the Hungerford massacre that killed 18, and the government followed with a 1988 law banning semi-automatic guns. But eight years later, a “disturbed” man murdered 16 children and a teacher the Dunblane school. Immediately the law was amended to ban “all private ownership of handguns.”

Somehow, criminals apparently didn’t get the message, the letter suggests.

“Despite having the toughest gun control laws in the world, gun related crimes increased in 2003 by 35 percent over the previous year with firearms used in 9,974 recorded crimes… Gun related homicides were up 32 percent over the same period. … Gun related crime had increased 65 percent since the Dunblane massacre and implementation of the toughest gun control laws in the developed world,” the letter says.

“In contrast, in 2009 (5 years after the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired) total firearm related homicides in the U.S. declined by 9 percent from the 2005 high,” the letter says, citing FBI statistics.

Since gun bans don’t really impact violence, what is the issue at hand?

“The purpose of the Second Amendment is to secure our ability to oppose enemies foreign and domestic, a guarantee against disorder and tyranny,” the Green Berets say.

“Throughout history, disarming the populace has always preceded tyrants’ accession of power. Hitler, Stalin, and Mao all disarmed their citizens prior to installing their murderous regimes. At the beginning of our own nation’s revolution, one of the first moves made by the British government was an attempt to disarm our citizens. When our Founding Fathers ensured that the Second Amendment was made a part of our Constitution, they were not just wasting ink. They were acting to ensure our present security was never forcibly endangered by tyrants, foreign or domestic.”

But school shootings are horrible and need to be addressed, they write.

“First, it is important that we recognize that this is not a gun control problem; it is a complex sociological problem. No single course of action will solve the problem.”

The military veterans say local schools should make their own decisions and plans.

“Most recently the Cleburne Independent School District will become the first district in North Texas to consider allowing some teachers to carry concealed guns. We do not opine as to the appropriateness of this decision, but we do support their right to make this decision for themselves.”

Further, those individuals with diagnosed conditions that impact their ability to make decisions can be addressed with programs of treatment.

“In each of these mass shooting incidents the perpetrator was mentally unstable,” the Green Berets says

Firearms safety programs in schools could help, and a repeal of laws making them gun-free zones should be considered by local officials.

Also, the violence in video games needs to be addressed.

“”War and war-like behavior should not be glorified. Hollywood and video game producers are exploiting something they know nothing about. General Sherman famously said, ‘War is hell!’ Leave war to the professionals,’” the letter says

“This is our country, these are our rights. We believe that it is time that we take personal responsibility for our choices and actions rather than abdicate that responsibility to someone else under the illusion that we have done something that will make us all safer. We have a responsibility to stand by our principles and act in accordance with them. Our children are watching and they will follow the example we set,” they write.

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