By Mark Oliva
Retired Marine Colonel Craig Tucker is throwing in his 25 years of Marine Corps service, combat experience and military expertise to deny Californians their Second Amendment rights. The problem is, he’s doing it on a bed of verifiably false allegations of what today’s Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR) is and isn’t. He discloses that he’s being compensated for his “expert” opinion at $200 an hour.
Colonel Tucker, a former Commander of the Corps’ Regimental Combat Team 7 that fought in the 2004 Battle of Fallujah, filed “expert testimony” in Rupp v. Bonta, the case that California’s Attorney General Robert Bonta is desperately trying to keep California’s “assault weapon” ban alive. That case was originally filed in 2017. In June of last year, the U.S. District Court’s order was vacated by U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Ninth Circuit and remanded back to the District Court given the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bruen decision, which expressly forbids the court from using an “interest balancing” test to decide Constitutionality of Second Amendment-related cases.
Justice Clarence Thomas expressly forbids the practice in Bruen, writing in the majority opinion, “The Second Amendment ‘is the very product of an interest balancing by the people’ and it ‘surely elevates above all other interests the right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms’ for self-defense.”
Attorney General Bonta is scrambling to salvage what’s left of California’s unconstitutional ban on the most popular-selling semiautomatic rifle in America. There are over 24.4 million of these rifles – AR-15s and AK-47s – in circulation today. They discharge one cartridge for each pull of the trigger – no different than popular semiautomatic duck hunting shotguns or personal defense handguns.
Colonel Tucker argues that these are firearms only meant for military use. I’m not writing to impugn the colonel’s character. Like him, I’ve served in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. I carried the M-4, firing the 5.56mm cartridge. I own several MSRs, chambered to accept .223 Remington/5.56mm and 6.5mm Creedmoor ammunition. Like him, I’ve got extensive experience with the Colt 1911 .45 caliber handgun as well as multiple handguns chambered for 9mm, including Beretta’s M-9.
The facts he presents to the court, however, are verifiably false.
Mythical M-4 & 5.56mm
Colonel Tucker qualified MSRs as “assault weapons” based on California’s list of cosmetic characteristics that have nothing to do whatsoever with the rifle’s actual functions. He testifies that the selector switch that renders an M-4 capable of automatic fire is a “picayune” or “petty or worthless” difference. By that definition, Colonel Tucker would classify any semiautomatic firearm as a “weapon of war.”
But he goes further.
“A single round is capable of severing the upper body from the lower body, or decapitation. The round is designed to kill, not wound, and both the AR-15 and M4 contain barrel rifling to make the round tumble upon impact and cause more severe injury.”
I’m not doubting the colonel’s combat acumen. I certainly can’t say that’s what I saw in combat. I never witnessed a single 5.56mm round fired at the enemy decapitate or sever a human body in half. If this were true of the 5.56mm cartridge, it would beg the question of why the military is spending millions to move to the 6.8mm Next Generation Squad Weapon, using a heavier caliber that carries more kinetic energy downrange. It would also beg the question of why the military also uses 7.62x51mm, .300 Winchester Magnum, .338 Lapua Magnum and .50 BMG caliber ammunition. If the 5.56mm cartridge were that devastating, there would clearly be no additional need for heavier bullets with more gunpowder behind them.
I’ve killed coyotes and prairie dogs with both 5.56mm and .223 Remington. Nothing of what Colonel Tucker describes ever happened on these much smaller targets. In fact, in my home state, the .223/5.56mm cartridge isn’t considered powerful enough for an ethical harvest of whitetail deer.
Rifling, Stocks & Grips
The rifle-barreling remark is odd too, especially coming from an infantry officer. I have studied firearms and it is common knowledge that rifling is designed to improve accuracy by stabilizing the bullet in flight as it travels toward the target, not to make it tumble upon impact. Artillery tubes have rifling for the same reason.
Colonel Tucker’s military expertise isn’t done, though. He claims that pistol grips and adjustable stocks on rifles are especially deadly.
“It is my opinion, based on my military service, that these features, individually and in combination, make semiautomatic rifles more lethal and most useful in combat settings, as described in more detail below,” Colonel Tucker testified.
SEE ALSO: CNN Gushes Over Former Marine Who Voluntarily Turns Over Guns to Police
Those are also the same features which allow for greater control and more accuracy when firing. That’s safer shooting. The adjustable stock makes it so my wife can fit the same MSR to her body that I fit to mine, with minor adjustments of the length of the stock. Adjusting stocks to be customized to the shooter is not a new concept. Rifle and shotgun shooters have been doing it forever.
This isn’t the first time Colonel Tucker’s taken on lawful firearm ownership. He co-authored an article in 2017 with two other Marines, one of whom I personally served with in the Corps. The column attacked the NRA for what they termed as “engaging in shameless fear tactics.” They added, “We believe that ALL of our civil liberties are worth defending for ALL Americans—including protection from the use of excessive lethal force by those sworn to protect and serve our communities.”
That’s all rights, except the full spectrum of Second Amendment rights, apparently.
It’s not the first time military officers used rank to present themselves as an authority on firearms. Army Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling did this with CNN following the tragedies in Parkland, Fla., when he explained to a reporter that he was going to fire on “full semiautomatic.” That was lampooned, not just because of the ill-turn of phrase, but because of the intentional narrative twisting. Military officers are using their former ranks to tell the American public they can’t be trusted to possess commonly-owned and commonly-used firearms.
I’m proud of my service. I’m proud of the Marines I served with, including Marines like Colonel Tucker, with whom I passionately disagree on this issue. The American public should be keenly aware that the U.S. military is very good at what it does. That’s control. That control, however, should never be exerted on the American public, especially when it is presented as “expert testimony” that is dubious at best and verifiably false at worst.
The American public generally respects and admires military leaders. But, we should not be blinded to the facts by military brass.
Apparently, at $200 an hour, California is getting a steal on this testimony and Second Amendment rights.
About the Author
Mark Oliva is NSSF’s Managing Director of Public Affairs. He is a retired Marine Master Gunnery Sergeant with 25 years of service, including tours in Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, Albania, and Zaire.
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Is this for real? I suspect that stolen valor charges are in order here, as I find it hard to believe that this clown is an actual Marine. If so, he should be ashamed of himself, either for his abysmal ignorance and incompetence regarding his weapon, or for his complete lack of integrity in terms of both truthfulness and his oath to the Constitution.
Really all you gentlemen, it’s California! How could you be surprised?
“Marine” and “Colonel” are two of the most respected words in my vocabulary. But using his logic, he is a cold blooded murderer. This, of course, underscores President Obama’s rhetoric about all veterans. God, what have we become?
What a cheese dick… SMH.
I’ll Say It
Colonel Tucker is a lying POS.
Anyone who would say they would classify any semiautomatic firearm as a “weapon of war.” As Well As “A single round is capable of severing the upper body from the lower body, or decapitation. The round is designed to kill, not wound, and both the AR-15 and M4 contain barrel rifling to make the round tumble upon impact and cause more severe injury.”
I believe anyone who would say such a thing would shoot American Soldiers and fellow Marines in the back.
Is this another “ hero” that fought for my freedom too? To think this guy was promoted and listened to in the Marines is terrifying.
It would be very nice if someone would leave the good kernel’s mailing address, phone number, and email address so that a few thousand of us could point out his lies. ( Excuse me…I meant “errors”! )
What a disgrace to his service and the Marines, piece of shit shill should hang his head in shame.
I want what he shoots, my m4 wouldn’t even cut a squirrel in half………..demote him to major phuck-up!
I enjoy it when the anti gunners have their professional people weigh in with their expertise and knowledge on their understanding and workings of firearms and the ballistic effects on the human body, they always have to make outrageous claims that scare people into voting for the candidates that promise they will make gun control happen. The more people that hear claims about a bullet slightly larger than a .22 rimfire is able to separate a head from the body or to actually tear a body in half may just make them question such nonsense and take it as a insult to their intelligence while others might start an investigation of their own on such claims. These extreme tactics from the left are going to backfire on them to the point that the people won’t even believe the simplest campaign promises they make.
I wonder if the Colonel was the armorer for the George Clooney movie, “Rust”. He has a remarkably faulty knowledge of the AR-15 for a Marine.
I am embarrassed to have the colonel as a fellow Marine.
I’ll impugn his character; he’s a sonuvabitch and a liar.
Here, Here !!!
Col. you are so full of shit. The .223 is a center fire .22 round that is very good to use on coyotes, fox, woodchucks, badger and in some states even white tail deer can be harvested with the 5.56 round. If you can show me a shot that cuts a body in half with this puny round I’ll kiss your ass in the middle of town and give you 20 minutes to draw a crowd. I used an M14 in the service and it will shoot through a 6 inch tree branch and still be deadly. The M14 will decapitate a man at 500 meters with the 7.62 round (308 Winchester) The 5.56 won’t even make it to 500 meters if there is any kind of wind at all, I don’t know where you get your so called facts from but you have been reading the comic books too long or something.
Sounds like he is describing the awesome might of the .45 ACP, not the 5.56.
He’s right about the tumbling, maybe not specifically about the tumbling being caused by the rifling. When the military made the ill-advised switch to the poodle-shooter 5.56, they worked it to tumble in the body with a greater intention to leave a devastating wound rather than a kill shot. It was a nasty philosophy.
This moron, Tucker, has NO idea what he’s talking about, unless he’s just saying whatever they want him to say to collect his $200/hr.
The rifling doesn’t make the bullet tumble after impact. That phenomenon is caused by the bullets construction and possibly by what it encounters once it enters the target.
The author says he’s proud of Marines like Col. Tucker. I think he oughta reconsider that statement.
Co. Tucker is right about the 5.56. I’ve personally sunk warships with a single round. More powerful than a 5″ naval cannon shell! Gotta ban those 5.56’s. Whatta idiot!
Rifling can cause a bullet to “tumble” and a pistol grip makes a rifle more lethal.
Very familiar with the results of .223 and 30-30 rounds impacting human beings. Nothing approaching decapitation or separation of the lower and upper torso occured. Very unlikely result, except in the movies, of even FAR more powerful common hunting rounds.
Colonel Tucker clearly is a teller of tall tales, much like the recent clown nominated to run ATF who testified that helicopters we’re shot down at the Branch Davidian/Waco standoff. No helicopters we’re shot down at all.
Too many tall tales at the Officers Club bar….Must have effected his memory.
My apologies to the Marines at large.
I’m 60, I’ve been handling firearms for 52 years. I’m a gunsmith and the son of a 20 year Navy Corpsman. My father taught me and my brothers to shoot and hunt. I have great respect for our military, BUT, this col. is absolutely 100% WRONG! I have had many conversations with so called “experts”. Most of which are NOT! For a former military leader to spout this crap proves he’s a communist! There is no room for communists in MY country! You can pay me a lot less for my FACTS that prove him wrong any day of the week, bring it on col. Jackass!
Here , here , good sir !
Retired? For mental issues??
Pity is that this moron is collecting a full pension on our dime.
So did he go to officer school or did he rise through the ranks? I highly doubt his combat experience, even if he was in charge of a unit in Fallujah. They fought, he didn’t.
That brings up my neighbor. He’s a former Marine. Makes a big show of it, too. Marine T-shirts, license plate on his vehicle, and even a Marine flag flying in his front yard. One would be led to believe he was a combat vet the way he talks. So, one night while visiting and his tongue loosening after several drinks, he inadvertently let’s it slip that he had an administrative position in the Corps– a desk job! Nothing wrong with that, or being proud of your service, but……
“I’m not writing to impugn the colonel’s character.”
Then allow me. I am a retired colonel, and I will say he is a lying P.o.S.
Now, now, in our current “woke” military anything you want to believe is better than the truth. And please refer to the good Col. by using the proper pronouns: they/him/she/it.
I am a combat veteran who served in Tal afar, Iraq with the 3rd brave rifles. I am so sick of these traitor, oath treading pussies. I would love for this anti-American, Miley and Austin to get in the pit for a little hand to hand combat. No matter what these states pass, no matter how bad the government wants to implement confiscation, it is a lot harder to make that happen. I have never been so ashamed of America and all these commie loving oath violating pieces of shit!!
The Colonels service aside, he is presently a paid liar or possibly suffering from a lack of mental acuity, IMO.
“ Tumble upon impact “ , was the reason , I believe , the
military went with the .223 / 5.56 round in the late 60’s
and early 70’s . That being , it would require two Warsaw
Pact soldiers to evacuate one wounded comrade , thereby
removing three from the battlefield . A good strategy .
The “ tumbling “ also has the nasty effect of entering
a kneecap and exiting the elbow , for example . This
process is known as “ key holing “ , and does get the job
The military went from the .30-06 , to the 7.62×51 ( .308 )
To the 5.56 ( .223 ) for definite reasons , and as crappy as
the M16A1 was , the M4 is a proven weapon of war .
Someone very wise once said , “ The objective of
war is to kill people and break things .” Our military
has done a wonderful job of it since our founding ,
and there is no need to change that policy.
The good Colonel seems a bit hyperbolic in his
statements , but it is his right to be so . One is entitled
to his own opinion , not however , his own facts .
“One is entitled to his own opinion, not however, his own facts.”
That’s great advice, you should follow it, because much of what you stated is Wrong!
First, the 5.56 round, and rifle developed for it, was principally conceived to be lighter in weight and more compact, allowing more ammo to be carried equivalently, or just a lighter load-out. It also had far less recoil than the 7.62NATO round, which enhanced accuracy for the average grunt, esp. on full-auto. It was NOT adopted for your erroneous opinion that it “tumbled upon impact.”
Your statement that “The ‘tumbling’ also has the nasty effect of entering a kneecap and exiting the elbow…” is absolutely absurd!! You also have no idea what “keyholing” means.
You go on with your stupidity by calling our M16 a “crappy weapon.” It was not.
It almost appears like you’ve been taking lessons from Col. Tucker on firearms and terminal ballistics. Shame.
I still stand by my comment regarding, “ entitled to one’s
own opinion ……” , Stan . Obviously you merely prove
my point .
YOUR lack of comprehension on this matter is utterly
dumbfounding , and your compulsive attacks upon my
posts , on a regular basis , shows lack of humility . You
remind me of what my late Father used to describe as
a “ foxtrotting , gulf – delta REMF “ .
“ Ruck it up , and move – out , G.I. “ .
Second opinion. The only thing you said that is technically true and correct is the right to your “opinion.” That said, your “opinions” are not facts and begs the question;
Who’s paying you $200/hour to write your unfounded, I researched, non-factual, opinions?
Well, I agree mostly with your article, however, when first introduced, the m16 had a different twist 1:14 (very slow) on the barrel and did have a reputation of tumbling upon hitting a target since the spin was less. They were also less accurate. we now are commonly going 1:12 to 1:7 a much faster spin to stabilize the projectiles.
If you know anything about gyroscopic motion, you know that higher spin rates are more likely to cause “tumbling” in an object with a longitudinal moment of inertia that is higher than its radial moment of inertia; i.e. a 55 grain .223 caliber bullet.
Both of you amateur physics experts forgot to mention the reason they increased twist rate is because they increased bullet weight. When bullet weight increases, by necessity, they become longer in any given caliber. It’s an elementary ballistic fact that longer bullets need faster twist rates to get stabilized.
You also forget we use FMJ bullets because the Geneva Convention outlaws use of “dum dum” (soft and hollow point bullets) and I remember correctly, also bullets that tumble.
But the real deal killer is bullets that “tumble” in flight seldom hit their intended target, rendering them useless. That’s the whole purpose of rifling in the first place… to stabilize them so they fly true.
I have seen a round cut a human in half. It was a 30mm from an AH-64 (Iraq ’04). Not a pleasant sight, but also a reality of war that should never be used to petrify Americans (even Californians) through believing lies. An officer should never lie, cheat, or steal. This Marine officer is guilty of at least two of those.
Yet another example of why our country is in dire straights. This Colonel, with all this ?combat experience, sadly tells on himself as knowing next to nothing about the 5.56 wound ballistics and totally clueless democrat mindset. As the author so validly points out, millions have been and is being spent to find a better military round.GIs, from the beginning, complained about the lack of performance the 5.56 round delivered. I have seen estimates that 50,000 rounds per enemy KIA were expended. That has to be taken in context, but you get the point. He is an imbecile and should be ashamed. He is a perfect example of what liberals in a uniform deliver as soldiers-nothing!
Now, Vietnam combat vets have told me that the M193 round was effective. However, guys back from Iraq/Afghanistan using the M855 round said they often saw “ice pick” wounding in the targets. The difference can be attributed to the 1)higher velocity of the M193 and it’s propensity to tumble/frag, and 2)the purpose of the M855 round to penetrate, primarily intact.
They are paying the Full Bird way to much money, for the line of BS he is talking. I’m betting he will get more than $200 an hour for that line of crap he is talking. I only made it to E-3, twice. But I think he is confusing a 5.56 with a 50 cal. An I can’t afford a 50 or the ammo. The thing is, he knows the truth…
This guy obviously doesn’t know what he’s talking about. How’d he end up becoming a colonel? How many troops were killed because of his zany ideas. Shameful.
Anyone who can lie like that for money, especially when it’s intent is to take away constitutional rights, deserves ZERO respect. I don’t care what his “military record” is…… he’s a dirtbag. Impune Away
Mr. Tucker is full of puppy dog poop. He obviously did not pay attention to his training or was a cook’s helper. I do not know what full semiauto is???? A firearm is either full auto or semi auto not full semiauto.
I agree with the writer as I also have a AR15 in 5.56 mm. It does not cut anything in half or decapitate small game. I am sure you can harvest big game like deer with the 223/556 but they are not designed for big game.
Mr. Tucker needs to have more training with firearms.
Fear-mongering at it’s best! This the DUMBEST thing ever to come out of a mouth. Well, maybe not. The anti-gun folks will spread any lie they can think of to promote their anti-2nd amendment agenda.
Going to outlaw our guns ? This was tried “Back in the Day” at Lexington and Concord. The Military (of the day)(British) got their ass whipped all the way back into town. Want to rile us up again – “COME AND TAKE IT”.
“IF” “I” had “ANY” I would NOT give them up. OH – HELL NO. FU. FROM A LAW ABIDING “AMERICAN”.
Makes me what to go get one.
We do, already, have a Fully Trained Militia force out there – Quietly.
All over the US.
I shoot Combat Competition with them every month. We all shoot “Full Semi-automatics” 🙂
That’s weird because I personally know Marines who personally fought in Fallujah unlike Colonels who more than likely did not. They all stated that most Haji’s took more than one round of 5.56 before they went down. And this is door to door where ranges were very close. All of them have gone to 7.62×51 rifles for their personal protection rifles because of that experience. His position on this matter seems typical of today’s military leadership and should be disturbing to Americans.
The message is the bullet. Everything else is just a launching platform for that projectile.
Those guys you talked to, like the guys I talked to, who fought in Iraq, were issued the M855 ammo, which from an anti-personnel standpoint is inferior to its predecessor, the M193.
An AR-15 in 5.56 loaded with the proper ammo, say a heavy varmint bullet like Hornady’s V-Max 55gr, will get the job done in a CQ environment, or elsewhere.
For $200 an hour; SOME people will say ANYTHING.
This should be investigated further, delving into conflicts of interest and source of funds he collects.
Fortunately, most of us (the majority) are content calling BS on irrational wrong doings; free of charge.
Da-ham, wish my attorney only charged $200/hr to speak for me.
As a Marine I’m definitely NOT PROUD of Col Tucker being a sellout for $200/hour when everything coming out of his mouth is a lie. Kinda like that senile turd in the White House, everything coming out of his mouth is a lie too. And Gen Whoever the Fuk that said “fully semiautomatic”. Sellouts.
Amen and Semper Fi Marine !
Guess the Corps new motto is: The Few, The Proud, The Woke.
I suppose the retired Marine Colonel sides with the Russians during the invasion of Ukraine. He obviously isn’t interested in self defense. And obviously didn’t study
recent history regarding the disarmament of England from the early 1900s to prior to the U.S. involvement in WWII when the Commonwealth begged individual U.S. citizens to send their personal firearms. Just think, the Colonel is getting paid for his apparent ignorance.
Dwane: Agreed. AND THEN, after WWII, after begging US citizens to send their personal firearms to England to provide for the defense of that country, what did they do? Took the whole pile of them out to sea and dumped them in the ocean. Even after Dunkirk and the resulting problems, the Brits learned nothing about the value of an armed population.
“the Brits learned nothing about the value of an armed population.” Perhaps they did Mark which is why they continued with that policy until today. And look at them now with the WEF/Globalist loop slowly tightening around their neck.
Marine Colonel sounds like a REMF.
It immediately rings of BS whenever an officer gives “expert testimony” on an enlisted person’s weapon. Especially Hertling, that’s why he has a CAB and not a CIB.
Well . . . I have a CAB. Earned with an M4 as my primary weapon on the ground in the fight. That’s entirely an MOS thing, not anything else.
Or 9mm can shoot your lung right out according to another expert. I heard that the theory was that the larger 30 cal. was too damaging to smaller enemy/ adversary/combatants and on the battlefield if a person were wounded by a 556/22 and an adversary were wounded it would tie up two additional enemy personnel to help them from the field of battle.
These former officers pandering to the gun grabbers are an embarrassment to those of us who served in the Armed Forces. Their totally inaccurate characterizations of the capabilities 5.56 X 45 cartridges
““A single round is capable of severing the upper body from the lower body, or decapitation….” and the ability of a semi-automatic rifle to fire in the “full automatic” mode “going to fire on “full semiautomatic.””are asinine!