The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
11 Points

Semi-Automatic Firearms should be illegal for Civilians - Exception is with permit

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/22/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 11,320 times Debate No: 20024
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




I believe that civilians should not own semi-automatic firearms. They have no useful purpose that can be filled by a less violent weapon/ action.

Semi-automatic Guns: Guns that do not automatically fire an additional round until the trigger is released and re-pressed by the person firing the weapon.

Civilian: One not on active duty in the armed services or not on a police or firefighting force

Firearm: A weapon from which a shot is discharged from.

Semi-automatic firearms are not a good idea in the civilian population. They can fall into the wrong hands. For example, mentally distressed civilians could gain hold of semi-automatic weapons, causing untold problems. This occurred in the Columbine Massacre. I will in the next round state my real points and such. Also, I do not mean by the title of this debate that "underage semi-automatic weapons," weapons such as paintball guns, BB guns, etc, should be banned. I just thought I should point this out.


I accept my opponent's definitions and am very much looking forward to this debate.

Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1


Permit: to consent to expressly or formally

Semi-automatic firearms have no legitimate purpose in American society. Frequently, children are consequently exposed to these types of firearms, and these firearms aggravate the problem. An example is at the Columbine Massacre in 1999, or at other fights among people. What might have been an assault with fists and knives in the past now becomes a homicide because kids have semiautomatic weapons and handguns." Now, this debate is centered on semi-automatic firearms. There are basically 3 different reasons why people pursue to own semi-automatic firearms:

- Hunting purposes
- Defense
- Collection

Hunting Purposes

I think that semi-automatic firearms can be allowed among hunters, as well as regular rifles, but both should require federal or state registration. Then, among both federal and private dealers, before leaving with the weapon, the dealer should proceed with using the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This system, currently only required by the national government in federally licensed dealers, should be used in all formal dealers. People with psychiatric issues as well could be put into this system if they pose enough of a threat. A permit allows something to occur, so using the NICS and a background check (if required by state or local law).

~This would allow law abiding citizens to purchase hunting rifles (semi-auto or regular) and prevent criminals from getting these types of weapons.

Defensive Purposes

Having a semi-automatic weapon for defense is a bad idea, not a question. Having an unsecured, loaded gun in the house, especially a semi-automatic gun, leads to more trouble. It is more common for family members to be shot and killed by a weapon instead of thwarting a home invasion. Instead of using a gun, I recommend using something less lethal including a knive, mace, or pepper spray. These are not lethal, and cause no guilt to the homeowner or person who could've been a victim. Similarly, they are less likely to harm family members. If children get into the weapons, the parent, larger obviously, would either escape injury or only be minorly injured. For a home invasion, pepper spray would severly incapacitate the criminal, enough time to call the police, and/or "secure" the criminal, or to scare the criminal away.

However, a more acceptable household with guns is with more vulnerable individuals without children. A semi-automatic gun can be used if obtained by a permit using the NICS process described earlier. Cases for an example situation is with a women being stalked. Still, using less lethal weapons such as a mace, pepper spray, etc. would cause less harm to the criminal, and more importantly the homeowner/ potential victim.

~Allows truly in danger individuals to protect themselves in non-lethal ways, and causes less danger for parents, family members, and children alike. Allows the ones in life threatening scenarios (stalking, etc) to defend themselves.

Collection Purposes

Simple answer to this point. Join the military. Go to a museum. General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, has my reason in a nutshell, here is what his opinion: "I like to hunt. I have some twenty guns in the house. People who like assault weapons, they should join the U.S. Army, we have them." He is also for gun control measures (like limiting the availability of semi-automatic guns).

Conclusion: I say that semi-automatic firearms should be illegal for citizens without a permit. Permits should be required for all semi-automatic weapons and the people receiving them should be scanned using the NICS. I think that other ways of defense should be used in households that are less lethal.




My opponent has suggested three very good and valid reasons to own semi-automatic firearms so I will simply jump right in.

Hunting: 1) I'm not sure what my opponent means by "regular rifles" and my opponent has also not specified what kind of registration he believes should take place for such weapons, but in a way, they already are. Every gun sale that an FFL (Federal Firearms License) dealer makes must be recorded in copies of form 4473 (the form every person purchasing from a licensed dealer must complete) and kept for at least 20 years following the purchase [1].

2) I am also unsure as to what my opponent means by "formal dealers". I would have to assume that he means someone with a store or a person who makes a living out of selling guns. According to source [1] "A Federal Firearms License (FFL) is a license that enables an individual or a company to engage in a business pertaining to... the interstate and intrastate sale of firearms." So my opponent's suggestion that the NICS be used in all formal weapon purchases is redundant as formal gun dealers are legally required to have FFLs and therefore must already use the NICS.

3) My opponent's last point, that those deemed mentally dangerous should be prohibited from purchasing firearms, is interesting but seemingly irrelevant. If we are discussing the right to own specifically semi-automatic firearms, then how does preventing those with mental health issues come into play?

Defense: 1) I would ask that my opponent stay on topic and refrain from conjuring hypothetical scenarios that aren't even entirely relevant. We are discussing whether or not semi-automatic weapons should be legal, however my opponent makes his entire case against the owning of firearms. My opponent suggests that firearms are much more deadly to family members than they are to anyone potentially threatening the family. I would ask that he provide statistics to accompany that assertion and (as it would be the only part that actually pertains to the debate topic) show how semi-automatic weapons are inherently more dangerous to the family members.

2) None of my opponent's points in this section were about the legality of specifically semi-automatic weapons and were instead anti-gun in general, thereby making it irrelevant in this debate.

Collecting: 1) My opponent's "simple answer" is in fact not so simple. Can a person with disabilities join the military? Is going to the museum the same as being able to own and operate a weapon? Additionally, this point once again ignores the debate topic itself and instead attacks a person's ability to have guns at all.

2) The quote my opponent provides centers around the General referring to "assault weapons". While some laws may use the term "assault weapon", it is not an actual type of gun and is entirely ambiguous.

My points: 1) My opponent has disregarded the debate topic at hand which is specifically about the ownership of semi-automatic weapons, and has instead debated against the owning of firearms in general.

2) He has made no case for why semi-automatic firearms should be restricted for civilians over other firearms.

Source: [1]
Debate Round No. 2


I will accept how my opponent described the process of purchasing a gun legally, and will accept his definition of a formal dealer. To put this down, this debate is about:

Semi-automatic firearms should be illegal - Exception is with a permit. So, if a guy has a semi-auto firearm, and has not permit for it, it is illegal. If a dude has a semi-auto rifle and has registered and has a permit (varies on state laws), it is legal. These are two realistic scenarios. I am saying that only law abiding citizens that pose little or no threat to the public should have the option of owning a semi-automatic firearm. My opponent had to say why they should not have the right to own a semi-automatic firearm at all, or why other people should be able to own semi-automatic firearms such as mentally unstabe citizens, former criminals, fugitives, etc.

I am saying that the NICS should be used (and is) because it largely prevents criminals and other "at risk" people from getting semi-automatic firearms and other more dangerous weapons.

At-Risk Person: More liable or likely to succumb to something

Assault Rifle: Gun that can switch between fully automatic and semi-automatic

I said that people with children having a semi-automatic gun in the house is a bad idea, I didn't say they should be denied owning a semi-automatic gun. I also said it was a better idea for more vulnerable citizens such as a person being stalked or an elderly couple to own a semi-automatic gun. Still, owning a gun AT ALL will more likely end up causing pain and or death to a family/ owner than thwarting a home invasion. Semi-automatic guns will just aggravate this problem. Homicide, as well as suicide rates are higher in homes with firearms. A gun in the house results in 22 times more likely chance of unintentional death. I suggested other methods such as pepper spray, mace, etc. to defend a home, but did not say that homeowners should be denied the right to own a semi-automatic firearm with a permit.

I interchanged the two terms severe psychiatric [problems] with mentally unstable. I apologize for any inconvenience. It is proven that people who have mental/ psychiatric issues are more likely to hurt their fellow citizens, and that healthy citizens (without mental/ psychiatric) issues are less likely to hurt their fellow citizens. Although people with severe mental/ psychiatric issues may not be able to own a semi-automatic firearm as I am arguing for (denied a permit for one, making it illegal), the potential costs outway any benefits. They could be closely supervised in a formal target practice area, and are be taking their medications. This refutes my opponent's attack. They could own a different, "less violent" type of weapon possibly, but that isn't the subject of this debate.

I am saying that semi-automatic firearms that can also be fully automatic firearms should be illegal for all outside of the military because they are just to dangerous to the populace of a community. To get a permit, people should be required to register with 4473 forms, and the current requirements to get a firearm should be maintained, as well as making dangerous, at risk mentally instable/ psychiatric problematic people prevented from obtaining semi-automatic firearms (history of not using medications, etc.).

A permit should be required for any semi-automatic gun purchases because history has proven that permits and registrations reduce gun violence. Determined by the U.S. Justice Department, is the fact that a substantial numbers of firearms associated with gun shows being used in drug crimes and crimes of violence, as well as being passed illegally to juveniles. However, this debate is not about gun shows. This debate is allowing semi-automatic firearms to be allowed to the majority of the poplulace to be denied unless they have a permit. The bold shows that people shoud need to have a permit to reduce gun violence, because gun show purchases do not need a permit, resulting in the [bold analysis]. If my opponent disagrees with this, he is saying that people shouldn't need to acquire a permit to get a gun, putting more deaths into our hands and more pain into American homes.



As my opponent has gone off-topic multiple times in this debate, I will attempt to keep this round organized by listing my opponent's suggested changes to the process of buying a SEMI-AUTOMATIC firearm relative to the current process.

My opponent's suggestions for requirements to get a permit

1) "people should be required to register with 4473 forms"
2) "the current requirements to get a firearm should be maintained"
3) "making dangerous, at risk mentally instable/ psychiatric problematic people prevented from obtaining semi-automatic firearms"

These are the only listed requirements that my opponent suggests for getting a permit for being allowed to own a semi-automatic firearm, and suggests that they should otherwise be made illegal.

Current requirements for owning a semi-automatic firearm

1) Successfully filling out form 4473 and passing the subsequent federal background check
2) Being 18 or 21 years old (18 for a rifle/shotgun and 21 for a handgun)
3) As part of the background check, having not been legally declared mentally unstable

So really, the only difference between what my opponent suggests and what is already in place, is that people who can already own semi-automatic weapons would be given permits. How then does that further restrict the legality of semi-automatic firearms as my opponent suggests we should? My opponent says, "A permit should be required for any semi-automatic gun purchases because history has proven that permits and registrations reduce gun violence." I have already shown how this statement is incorrect because he suggests no new restrictions that aren't already in place and merely giving a permit to people who already can legally purchase a semi-automatic firearm makes no difference to anything.

"I am saying that semi-automatic firearms that can also be fully automatic firearms should be illegal for all outside of the military because they are just to dangerous to the populace of a community." We are not discussing the legality of full-auto weapons and thus that statement is irrelevent and should be disregarded.

Conclusion: My opponent has not presented any new restrictions to the ability to purchase semi-automatic firearms and thus suggests that people who can already purchase those weapons be given permits, despite the fact that those permits will in no way impact who owns a semi-automatic firearm.
Debate Round No. 3
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by VaasMontenegro 3 years ago
Semi Automatic rifles have been in existence since at least 1887. If you seriously want to consider banning these, not only will you have to define them, but you will have to deal with the fact that some people-like me-will be converting rifles over to semi-automatic, or making our own altogether.

Why, you ask?

It's easier than making furniture, and I'll be getting a great paycheck.
Posted by Noswad63 3 years ago
All semi-automatics? That is an awful idea. I suppose a revolver could do the purpose but i would trust a high capacity handgun more. Banning all semi-automatics is a really bad idea.
Posted by toad1225 3 years ago
Guns are great
Posted by noctos 4 years ago
all i can say is if i want and can afford a tank i should be able to own one
Posted by Raisor 4 years ago
Pro I have no idea what you are advocating. Con doesnt either, and you can tell he is just sort of sitting there thinking "wtf am I supposed to be responding to?" Does Pro want to make semi-auto guns illegal for all civilians or does he want additional restrictions on ownership or does he think our current restrictions are good and Con is supposed to be showing they arent? I have no clue.

Arguments to Con because Pro failed to even express what his position was.

Conduct to Con because Pro sort of wasted everyone's time with a poorly formulated resolution and position.

Pro: In the future please write a clear Resolution and clearly define your position at the start of the round. Clarity is a debating virtue.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Jellopants 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: What was this all about? Pro rambled on and on about restrictions on semi-automatic weapons without considering the facts he presented. I gave sources to Con because the bulk of the killing done in Pro's Columbine example was done with a double barrel shotgun, a pump-action shotgun, and over 99 home-made explosives (none of which are semi-auto weapons). The point is Pro had no central idea.
Vote Placed by Raisor 4 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Ugh. RFD in comments
Vote Placed by imabench 4 years ago
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: pretty bad debate, pro really focused more on what the US gun policy regarding such weapons should be rather than why they should necessarily be illegal to those without a permit until the last round, con though didnt really give any solid counter arguments and really only claimed the pro was going off topic though so arguments go to the pro, sources go to the pro for actually using them, conduct to con since pro used an ungodly large font in the second round.