I was having a discussion, one of many, on “gun rights” in a G+ democracy community the other day and my opponent and I were able to disagree respectfully about where to draw the line in controlling firearms. I base my reasoning on keeping legal what allows people to defend themselves against an armed invader, an individual or small group but not an “army”. As someone with long experience with firearms, I am certain that limiting someone to a revolver or other small capacity handgun, a shotgun, or any non-semiautomatic rifle, does not significantly diminish one’s ability to defend oneself. For short range fighting, you cannot beat a shotgun unless your opponent has armor.
There is a reason the military has automatic and selective- fire weapons. Automatic weapons can lay down suppressive fire, forcing the enemy to keep their heads down while your team maneuvers. The M-4 and similar small arms are necessary because in war, as opposed to a home invasion or gang attack or some other unlikely scenario, you may be engaged in a sustained firefight, often for minutes and sometimes much longer. The large capacity magazine and other traits of a modern military rifle are designed for these situations.
I would be happy to let people bear arms of the same technology level present when the 2nd Amendment was ratified. I’ve used a 50 caliber Hawken rifle (a 19th Century black powder caplock muzzle loader) and it can kill people just as dead as an M-4. So I could be seen as generous for wanting to allow 20th century firearms.
Maybe allowing only muskets and muzzle loaders is going a bit too far, in that many people couldn’t defend themselves with such a weapon, and of course missing the target has a real cost in time with a muzzleloader, but allowing only pre-20th century weapons would be more reasonable than the current mess.