Ronnie Barrett designed the first .50 caliber sniper rifle after observing a Browning machine gun mounted on a boat. This high-powered sniper rifle—available for sale on the civilian market—has an effective range of over a mile and can pierce armor. John C. Killorin, a former special agent in charge of the Atlanta field division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), called Barrett’s rifle “a devastatingly powerful weapon against which most troops, most law enforcement, no civilians, have any means of defense.” Barrett, on the other hand, has described his invention as “a toy for a big boy.” In 2004, then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) banned civilian ownership of the rifle. In 2005, U.S. Representative Jim Moran (D-VA) and 28 cosponsors introduced legislation that would have placed stricter regulations on .50 caliber sniper rifles by placing them in the same federal regulatory class as machine guns. The 50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Reduction Act found that “the intended use of these long-range firearms…is the taking of human life and the destruction of materiel, including armored vehicles and such components of the national critical infrastructure as radars and microwave transmission devices, in addition 50 caliber sniper weapons pose a significant threat to civil aviation in that they are capable of destroying or disabling jet aircraft … The virtually unrestricted availability of these firearms and ammunition, given the uses intended in their design and manufacture, present a serious and substantial threat to the national security.” The Branch Davidians used the Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifle during the 1993 Waco siege, forcing the FBI to use armored Bradley fighting vehicles before upgrading to even heavier armor. Smalls arms proliferation has led to the acquisition of these rifles by other terrorist organizations and extremist groups. Essam al-Ridi, a government witness during the trial of terrorists involved in the 1998 bombing of United States embassies in Africa, testified that he sold Osama Bin Laden’s Al Qaeda terrorist organization 25 Barrett .50 caliber sniper rifles in 1988 or 1989. Barrett’s rifle was also used by IRA snipers to kill British police officers and Irish constables during “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland. Barrett raises funds for the NRA Foundation by offering tours of the Barrett factory in exchange for a $1,000 donation.
In a March 1, 2013 radio interview on “Cam & Company,” Barrett spoke about New York’s enactment of new gun violence prevention laws, stating, “In all of history when this kind of stuff has happened before, it's bad news. You know, and I hate to be one of these doomsday guys, but in past things like this result in the death of millions. You know, and World War II hasn't been 700 years ago, it's only been 70 years ago. And if people don't think that these things don't happen to modern, progressive, Christian nations like Germany was, they're wrong, brother, I mean we're sitting here just nearly repeating the same past of that, the disarming of the citizenry not based on any facts but based on cynical emotions that are put in and rushed through in the middle of the night before anybody has a chance to study the true facts, before their citizenry even knows what's going on. I mean holy smokes, what kind of state government was that? I can't believe that's one of the members of the Union here, one of the members of our Republic. It's just unimaginable.”
In a February 5, 2013 radio interview on “Cam & Company,” Barrett stated, “Yeah, I hope gun owners now see that how big of a target is on their back. Gun owners is a huge obstacle to the socialism that's trying to be introduced into our country now. You can't have socialism, and you can't round up hordes of armed free people and put them in cattle cars. It's just a very difficult process to do. So before you can have good socialism, you have to break the will of the independent thinking person, the self-reliant person, and when you look at that self reliant people usually have a firearm. They usually have a flashlight. They usually pay their bills. They're not dependent on the government. You have to get rid of those people before you can make them, everybody lockstep dependent on the government, so that's why the big target. That's why they're after rifles. It has nothing to do with crime. This represents independent self reliant thinking people, and they are the enemy.”
In a February 5, 2013 radio interview on “Cam & Company,” Barrett stated, “Yeah, I hope gun owners now see that how big of a target is on their back. Gun owners is a huge obstacle to the socialism that's trying to be introduced into our country now. You can't have socialism, and you can't round up hordes of armed free people and put them in cattle cars. It's just a very difficult process to do. So before you can have good socialism, you have to break the will of the independent thinking person, the self reliant person, and when you look at that self reliant people usually have a firearm. They usually have a flashlight. They usually pay their bills. They're not dependent on the government. You have to get rid of those people before you can make them, everybody lockstep dependent on the government, so that's why the big target. That's why they're after rifles. It has nothing to do with crime. This represents independent self reliant thinking people, and they are the enemy.”
In a July 26, 2012 appearance on NRA news, Barrett commented on a July 17, 2012 speech in which President Barack Obama stated, “There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me—because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t – look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something – there are a whole bunch of hard working people out there. If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business–you didn’t build that.” Barrett replied to these remarks, stating, “What Obama had said here with the ‘you didn’t do this’—this is not new stuff. You know, the world has heard socialist people try to sell this game for decades. You know, it’s the same thing that was said in Europe in the 30s. I went back and listened to his whole talk on that and the whole thing is that ‘you’re not going to be able to do it by yourself and you’re only going to be able to do it if we share and your problems of you not having any money is really this rich man over here and we’re going to take from that rich man and give it to you.’ And of course that identifying a problem thing, we’ve seen that in history, too. You always have to identify some sort of group that is the problem for you and you can go back and like I said look in Europe in the 30s and how their groups were identified … The original government that our Founding Fathers set up loves [entrepreneurship] because that’s what they wanted you to be. What they wanted you to be [is] self-sufficient, hardworking, get out there, you keep what you’ve earned. But that flies in the face of socialism. So entrepreneurship and things like that is gotta be the enemy of the socialists, of the Obama folks and things like that. You can’t have those guys walking around. The Obama people, or the socialist people, they have to have people solely dependent on the government and sucking on its tit … It blew me away to hear the people applauding what [Obama] was saying. I thought, ‘did you never pay attention to history? Don’t you know we have heard this before?’ And it always ends up in collapse or millions of people dead.”
In a June 14, 2011 radio appearance on “NRA News,” Barrett commented on the illegal trafficking of firearms from the U.S. to Mexico by saying, “This all just smoke and mirrors. That’s what every kind of gun regulation stuff is. It’s smoke and mirrors that we have to do something now to be able to save and then just fill in the blank. Well, right now we have the Mexico thing … It’s just fuel to the fire to the would-be Socialists that would have more regulations on us … You just can’t have good Socialism with an armed population.” Barrett also claimed that the Second Amendment gives civilians the right to own military-grade firepower, including fully automatic weapons, saying, “They moved and took away our legal manufacturer for machine guns [for civilians] because there was a popular television show called ‘Miami Vice’ that was on that everybody was running around shooting everybody up with machine guns and there hadn’t been committed a [crime] committed with a legal machine gun, you know, what, since  or something like that. It was ridiculous. It was Hollywood. But, you know, they said, ‘Oh, we gotta’ do something about that,’ so they took another one of our rights away. And so now you know the right to bear arms is going to be well you can have a sub-, inferior type of weapons. You can’t have really top-notch weapons.”
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