Thursday, October 01, 2015

Bring Back the Assault Weapons Ban

After yet another mass murder involving an assault weapon, we should bring back the Assault Weapons Ban.

This sensible law included, at the NRA's insistence a sunset provision.  Passed under a Democratic administration, it was allowed to expire in a Republican one.

After Sandy Hook, Democrats made a concerted effort to renew the ban and make it permanent.  Republicans defeated it.

I am not calling for a total gun ban, nor gun grabbing (gun trolls take note).

I am calling for the renewal of sensible legislation to limit and gradually eliminate weapons whose only civilian use is mass murder.


Mac said...

Why am I not surprised? By the time you posted this, it had been established that the shooter used a pistol to commit the murders. Not a so-called "assault rifle." He apparently had one rifle with him, but, so far, no one has said he used it--and even then, given the locale, it may well have been a deer rifle. But adhering to the Obama/Emanuel rule ("Never let a good tragedy go to waste.") here is a clarion call to ignore the second amendment to ban "assault weapons."

People knew from his rantings on the web that he posed a risk. But he has rights, they say. He has the right to state that he is lonely and that the clown who shot and killed the two TV reporters proved a need to kill people to get attention. But he has a first amendment right to speech, free from government control, people say. The solution to protecting innocent people from gun violence is to take guns away from innocent, law-abiding citizens, they say. Let's just pretend that the second amendment was not ratified.

I can understand a parent in Roseburg--in the the throes of shock--asking that. But not a president who has sworn to "preserve, protect, and defend the [entire] Constitution." A politician who wants to disarm the entire citizenry is just a tyrant in liberal clothing. And a professor of one of the social sciences (history, political science, economics, and sociology) ought to know better.

Charles Martel said...

What features do you think differentiate an "ordinary" rife from an assault weapon whose "only civilian use is mass murder"?

Charles Martel said...

This is a horrible and senseless tragedy.

Gruntled said...

Restore the law that we had, which specifies what it applies to.

Charles Martel said...

Restoring the previous law, passed just to say, "Tada! 'Assault' weapons are now illegal" won't accomplish much, if anything. It was ineffective.

Restoring the law will accomplish little or nothing - so say the experts. It is not the answer. Yes. Something needs to be done, but it won't be as easy or simple as passing the previous law.

From Wikipedia:
The Task Force on Community Preventive Services, an independent, non-federal task force, examined an assortment of firearms laws, including the AWB, and found "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence."] A 2004 critical review of firearms research by a National Research Council committee said that an academic study of the assault weapon ban "did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence outcomes." The committee noted that the study's authors said the guns were used criminally with relative rarity before the ban and that its maximum potential effect on gun violence outcomes would be very small.[25]

In 2004, a research report submitted to the United States Department of Justice and the National Institute of Justice found that should the ban be renewed, its effects on gun violence would likely be small, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement, because rifles in general, including rifles referred to as "assault rifles" or "assault weapons", are rarely used in gun crimes.[26]

The problem is that the previous ban was its focus on largely cosmetic features of the weapons. Yes, pistol grips and folding stocks can have tactical advantages.

Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
* Folding or telescoping stock
* Pistol grip
* Bayonet mount
* Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
* Grenade launcher mount

Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
* Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
* Barrel shroud safety feature that prevents burns to the operator
* Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
* A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.

Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:
* Folding or telescoping stock
* Pistol grip
* Detachable magazine.

A substantial problems is the enforcement of current laws:
Take the case of Dontray Mills who was given probation with no jail time after being charged with 55 counts of buying firearms with fake identification and dealing them without a license. We are talking about criminals buying guns to sell to criminals.

Going back to your original post:
"After yet another mass murder involving an assault weapon, we should bring back the Assault Weapons Ban"

This tragedy did not involve "assault" weapons" and the experts say that the Federal "Assault Weapons Ban" of 1994 did not accomplish much, if anything. In fact, it occurred in a "Gun Free Zone."

I wish there was a simple answer

Barry said...

From a sociological standpoint, an interesting correlation has always puzzled me: What is the strong correlation between evangelistic Christianity and gun fandom? IT seems that there should be none, however, the correlation is strong

Gruntled said...

Charles Martel, I agree that the problem of our violent gun culture is a deep one. Banning military weapons from the hands of civilians is one good step, but not the only one. What the studies you cite found was that the limited ban of certain weapons for a limited time did not reduce gun violence with those weapons much. This is to be expected - the ban itself led to a huge rush to purchase them, the ban was only in force for a few years, and violent crimes with that kind of weapon are rare to begin with. Nonetheless, some of the American gun massacres have been carried out with these weapons, which would not have happened if the ban had still been in place.

I also agree that stricter enforcement of our existing laws will help. In this matter, too, the gun makers' lobby has worked against the public good, making it hard to restrict even the gross cases of mass murder weapon sales.

The United States is the only developed country which regular has gun massacres. It is clearly well within human ingenuity to find a way to prevent them. What is your proposed solution?

Charles Martel said...

A common misconception: "The United States is the only developed country which regular has gun massacres."

Even Politifact scores the president's statement after the Charleston massacre as "Mostly False" - And he speaks of the frequency of massacres in other developed countries, not the absence of it.
"This type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency."

From Wall Street Journal:
"While the U.S. has had more mass shootings in terms of raw numbers than other countries, at least three European countries—Switzerland, Norway and Finland—had higher rates of mass-shooting deaths per capita, according to researchers Jaclyn Schildkraut of the State University of New York in Oswego and H. Jaymi Elsass of Texas State University."

Please do NOT think that I am saying that the status quo is OK. It is NOT. It is a tragic situation that we MUST do something about. (Sorry for the emphasis. I just want to be clear about this). We must not, as the president said, become numb to it.

What I do believe is that we must address the reality of the situation, and to do that we need focus our energy in areas where headway can be effectively made. Will the process of trying to re-institute an Assault Weapon Ban be difficult and decisive? You bet! The left and right will yell, scream, call each other names, etc.. Will it make a difference? Yes and probably not. Yes, it will make a difference by further driving apart people that need to work together. Probably not, in that, as from the Wikipedia article, rifles of all kinds are rarely used in the commission of violent crimes (Handguns are the tool of choice).

In the end, Assault Weapons are just regular weapons wearing Halloween Costumes. They look scary but the internal mechanisms, like semi-automatic operation, are identical in function to traditional hunting rifles. In fact, many hunters are now using rifles that might be considered Assault Weapons for basic utilitarian purposes. Also, we are not talking about military weapons. Military weapons used for assault purposes have automatic or burst fire capabilities; these are already illegal for civilian ownership without very specific Federal licensing.

Let us also remember that firearm laws primarily affect law-abiding citizens, not the criminals. That's what makes them criminals.

Let's +start+ with actions that will make a difference and we can unite on:
* Vigorously enforce the laws already on the books - This targets criminals with guns rather than law abiding citizens and very importantly this will build support from the pro-gun people.
* Providing safety and opportunity for children and youth in area high crime areas (Including anti-gang efforts)
* Mental health - for the sake of people in need, not just to keep them from killing people or themselves with guns
* Weapon safety - Keep them out of the hands of children
* Not only not becoming numb to tragedies like in Oregon and Charleston, but stop being numb to the horrific death tolls in our cities through out the year.

(Out of time. Gotta run)


Charles Martel said...

BTW - Vigorously enforce the laws already on the books
Includes background checks that actually work, unlike the system in place that allowed the Charleston shooter to buy his pistol, throwing the book at people using firearms in the commission of crimes; heavy penalties for illegal sale, theft and trafficking in weapons; putting felons in possession of firearms during the commission of a crime away for a long time (it is already illegal for them to just hold a gun in their hand in the privacy of their home.)

Mac said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mac said...

One reason that truly effective gun laws do not work is that they are aimed at criminals. As a result, it is a fairly common practice by prosecutors to agree to drop charges that would incur the serious mandatory penalties resulting from the use of firearms by criminals and the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon as part of a plea bargain. Instead of punishing criminals, the anti-gun side prefer to strip law-abiding citizens of the most important of an American's constitutional and civil rights.

dennistheeremite said...

I tried to find online a "history of mass shootings" that would go back to at least the 19th century. But it would be good to know the contribution of the culture and how it has changed. Were we less violent in 1890, for example) and so there were fewer mass shootings? Or were they more common? Even if we didn't have, and I know we don't have, statistics on this, if we just could study accounts some old incidents and see how society and government responded (and the equivalent of the NRA).

Gruntled said...

Violence in general has declined over the past two centuries, mostly because governments have become more effective at preventing citizen violence. Most gun violence now is for suicide or shooting your relatives. However, as weapons of mass killing have been made available to citizens, the rare incidents of intentional mass murder have become more lethal.