BURLINGTON, VT—Despite his staunch opposition to the National Rifle Association and U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, peace activist Paul Robinson conceded Monday that the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle is "pretty damn cool."
"Look, I realize that the use of this instrument of destruction, even in wartime, is morally reprehensible, and I don't see how anyone with a conscience could justify owning one," said Robinson, 31, a University of Vermont graduate student in sociology and president of the campus chapter of Amnesty International. "But you have to admit, it's pretty wild to think that it's capable of throwing a half-inch bullet into a man-sized target 1,500 meters away."
Robinson first became aware of the high-powered, exceptionally accurate weapon in 1995 while researching U.S. military involvement in Somalia, which he protested while pursuing a masters degree at Bates College.
"While gathering data for a petition letter condemning U.S. policy in Somalia, I was appalled to learn that the Special Forces were using a gun called the Barrett M82A1 to take out trucks from a mile away," Robinson said. "A friggin' mile. Can you imagine?"
Last week, a guilt-ridden Robinson bought a copy of Guns & Ammo containing an article titled "The Guns Of Black Hawk Down," which prominently featured the Barrett.
"It's a big gun, the Barrett," said Robinson, leafing through the article. "It's about five feet long and weighs almost 30 pounds. It fires the largest widely available cartridge in the world—a machine-gun bullet, really. It can empty a 10-round magazine as fast as you can pull the trigger. And thanks to its ingenious dual-chamber muzzle brake, gases are vented away, and the user feels no more recoil than you get with a 12-gauge shotgun. Not that anyone should know what the recoil feels like on any gun."
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