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View Diary: Obama to tap Biden to lead White House response to mass shootings (63 comments)

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  •  Assault Weapons: Red Herring (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    expatjourno, quill

    In the rush to do SOMETHING we seem to be planning on resurrecting the previous federal assault weapon and high cap magazine bad: bad idea.  That measure failed utterly yet seemed to give most people the warm fuzzies that we had made a significant step towards solving the gun violence problem.

    The definition of "assault weapons" concerned mainly on the levels of military styling.  Focusing on form over function is usually the sign of a flawed process and so it was in this case.  You could still easily buy AR-15s during the ban; they merely had to leave off the bayonet lug and flash suppressor.  Perhaps these ommissions would have decreased their military value—slightly—but had zero effect on their lethality.  

    Another major flaw was that other equally deadly firearms were entirely unaffected; for instance the Ruger mini-14 would be very effective in the hands of a mad-man and was a weapon used to arm California Highway Patrolmen operating in remote areas where prompt backup response could not be assured.  The Virgina Tech and Giffords shooters utilized semi-automatic handguns with large capacity magazines in their massacres and would have been entirely unaffected by an assault rifle ban.  The key factor is the ability of a shooter to inflict incredible damage in the first moments of the attack and banning a gun simply because it looks scary is a rather naive approach.

    Yet another flaw with the ban is that it did nothing to remove existing guns from circulation.  If we were to completely outlaw the manufacture of semi-automatic, detachable magazine rifles today, they would still be available to whackos for generations.  If we ban a firearm, it needs to be by prohibiting manufacture and outlawing its possession coupled with a fair buy-back program.

    The magazine ban was also a bad joke.  There was a delayed implementation of the law and any magazines manufactured before the start date were allowed to be sold.  The ban was in effect of ten years(?) but you could still online order "preban" magazines at only a slight premium relative to years the ban was in effect.  Again there are already a huge pool of these magazines out there so simply preventing further manufacture or sale will be similarly ineffective in non-geological time scales.  I bought an AR-15 5 years or so before the ban and it came with two magazines that were blocked to hold only 5 shots; probably it was a fig-leaf to the manufacturer's sensibilities.  (It was trivial to open them up and remove the block.)

    The net result of the whole thing was to encourage people to buy slightly altered military-style rifles and high-capacity magazine—while they "still had the chance"—while giving the GOP a way to rally parts of their base against gun-grabbing BIG-GOVERNMENT.  There was absolutely no useful decrease in the potential for gun violence.

    Let's not get duped again this time around.  Let's outlaw detachable magazines with a capacity > 10 (or maybe 10 for pistols and 5 for rifles) and 8 for non-detachable highpower (i.e. other than 22 rimfire) magazines.  A 12-month grace period with a fair-priced buyback for outlawed magazines and firearms followed by severe penalties for possession (which would include a lifetime ban on the all firearm ownership/possession).  If this measure isn't enough then we can tighten things up; however, lets start with something that has at least a chance to make things better rather than something as porous as our tax laws.


    My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.—Carl Schurz
    Give 'em hell, Barry—Me

    by KingBolete on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 07:24:26 AM PST

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