The odds of getting an assault weapons ban through this congress are slimmer than a super model. Not only would the battle suck all of the energy out of the political will to do "something" after Newtown, an assault weapon ban would actually do nothing to reduce gun violence even if it were to pass.
Let me explain. For disclosure purposes, I own a couple of guns. I hunt, but I am very much in favor of effective gun regulation. I simply do not see how an assault weapon ban can be effective, because they are not the problem.
First of all, it is very hard to define exactly what an assault weapon is. Is it a gun with a pistol grip? How about a flash suppressor? Does an assault rifle have a removable stock?
Just coming up with a definition could take weeks of debate in congress. Secondly, since the last assault weapons ban expired, millions of assault style weapons have been sold in the U.S. If sales of similar weapons are banned going forward, what do we do about the millions already in circulation? I can assure you that confiscation wouldn't work and it ain't gonna happen. And again I say, the style of weapon is not the problem.
Let's take the AR-15 format or AK-47 style rifle. People can and do use these to hunt. They are lightweight, easy to carry and very accurate. They come in a variety of calibers for different types of game and they are relatively easy to customize. The big problem is magazine capacity and ease of reloading.
I cannot recall an incident where a mass shooting has occurred by someone wielding a "regular" hunting rifle. Most hunting rifles have a magazine that holds 3 to 5 shells. And replacing the magazine (reloading) is not a quick and easy process. Afterall, most game being hunted is long gone if you've missed with the first couple of shots. Having 20 rounds or more isn't going to do much good.
On the other hand, the assault style rifle often comes with a 20 round magazine and one can buy much larger capacity magazines on hundreds of internet sites. The magazines quickly eject with the touch of a button. Just pop a new one in and you're ready to fire another 20 rounds almost instantly. That is the real problem.
Rather than waste precious time and energy trying to reinstate the assault weapons ban, regulating magazine capacity is doable and might save lives. I think we all agree that no matter what legislation gets passed, there will be more crazed killers in the future. If that killer has a weapon that can only hold 5 rounds and has a magazine that is slightly complicated to replace, fewer people will die. The victims can try to run away while the killer reloads. Perhaps a brave soul might subdue the bad guy or the cops might show up in the nick of time.
Yes I know that most semi automatic pistols routinely hold 10 rounds, but a pistol is not very accurate past 20 yds for most shooters. A rifle can be very deadly at 75+ yards even in relatively inexperienced hands. Therefore, this is my proposal.
A rifle can have a magazine of no more than 5 rounds and 10 for a pistol. The government can offer to buy back larger capacity magazines for a few bucks or just ban them outright. If you are caught with a larger capacity magazine, the fine should be substantial. Maybe $500 or more. If you commit a crime using a rifle or pistol with a larger capacity magazine, it should carry an additional punishment. Say a minimum of 5 additional years in prison.
I think these simple rules can potentially save lives and might be able to get through congress. Combined with closing the gun show loopholes and instituting real background checks, we could be on our way to slowing or stopping the gun madness that is gripping our country.