Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Five days to go ...

... until the federal "Assault Weapons Ban" fades off into the sunset. It's been a long ten years that Americans have had their rights infringed by this oppressive piece of crap. For those who think that we'll now have machineguns easily available, think again. The AWB as enacted in 1994 banned from further production and importation certain semiautomatic -- not fully-automatic (machineguns) -- firearms. Firearms were classified as AWs by name and/or by certain prohibited, largely cosmetic features.

At the time it was enacted, supported claimed that AWs were the preferred weapons of criminals. This is bullshit. Try hiding an Kalashnikov or AR-15 under your coat before going down to rip off the local quickie mart. Criminals like guns they can conceal easily. AAMOF, according to ATFE, the most-traced firearms used in crimes are Smith & Wesson revolvers, which have been in production in substantially the same form since 1899.

In any event, criminals favor automobiles as their preferred getaway vehicle. Should we ban cars that go faster than 35 MPH? Of course not. Cars are tools used by criminals. Guns are tools used by criminals. Both of them have both good and bad uses but in and of themselves are neither good nor evil. We punish misuse of cars but don't even consider banning them or restricting access to them, except for people who misuse them. And a hell of a lot more people are injured in cars than with firearms.

What the AWB attempted to do was to cut off Americans' access to military-style firearms. In this, it violates the clear intentions of the Framers, who intended the Second Amendment to be a "reset button" for a government run amok. (The "well-regulated militia" referred to in the Second Amendment is not the National Guard, which didn't come into existence until over a century following the ratification of the Bill of rights. "Well regulated" in this context means "properly functioning.")

We talk about checks and balances between the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government. The Second Amendment is the check and balance between the people and the government.

By attempting to reduce Americans' ability to resist a tyrannical government, those legislators who voted for the AWB sought to insulate themselves from culpability for any egregious actions they might take. I regard them as traitors to their constituents and the oath they took upon entering office to uphold and defend the constitution of the United States.

Constitutionality aside, even the radical antigun Violence Policy Center has admitted that the AWB has had no effect on crime. The AWB can't even pass a fairly-applied rational basis analysis test of Constitutionality, much less strict scrutiny.

As someone with more than a passing interest in firearms and ballistics, I know what a misused firearm can do. What we need to do as a society is to keep guns out of the hands of those who misuse them and the best way to do that is to reduce the amount of misuse to begin with. Focusing on the inanimate object to reduce its misuse is dumb. E.g., we don't blame the car when a drunk driver hurts someone. We shouldn't blame guns when someone is shot with one.

Thankfully, in five days the AWB will be history. I expect the antis to try again to come up with a replacement. Unfortunately I am not so sure they will be unsuccessful. So, I do plan to go buy something at my favorite gun shop on 9/14/04. I'll get a nasty, evil assault weapon with all the toppings and metaphorically flip Dianne Feinstein the bird.


Anonymous said...

In your comparison between cars and guns you miss one point. You need a driving licence to be allowed to use a car. You get that by proving (OK don't start on the hole in that procedure ...) you can use a car responsibly.
For guns you don't need a licence.

Dave Markowitz said...


1. In some US states you _do_ need a license for a gun.
2. If we required licenses for guns, then a license issued in any one state would valid in all other states.
3. Nobody is trying to ban cars.
4. The level of competence requiree to get a driver's license in the US is a joke. If you can fog a mirror, you can get one.
5. Driving is not enshrined in the Bill of Rights as a funademental individual right. The right to bear arms _is_.
6. Given that criminals get all the guns they want regardless of gun control laws, just what would it accomplish?

Anonymous said...

Not that I'm anti-guns, but I live in a country where we aren't allowed them, with the small exception of hunting type shotguns, underwhich very strict licensing exists (including inspection of where they're kept by an officer of the law).

The biggest difference I can think of, certainly in society here, between cars and guns is that while cars can be misused to cause harm, they are by and large useful things.

Guns however are much much less so. Sure, in certain situations they are useful, but by and large day to day, I don't think to myself "Boy, wish I had a gun".

That said, society over here is different. I've not had a gun, so don't miss it.