Assault Weapons Ban

Scary Weapons

What, exactly, does the Left mean by “assault weapons”?  Evidence is abundant that this expression means to them “anything that could hurt someone” (i.e., anything capable of self defense).

Senator Feinstein’s bill clearly denotes a raft of guns to be banned based upon their scary appearance, furthering the silly notion that a bullet fired from a black gun is inherently different from a bullet fired from a brown one. Or that a bullet fired from a rifle with a pistol grip will do something different from the same bullet coming from a gun with no such grip.  Stupid, isn’t it?  (Especially since they admit that it won’t likely help.)

It is just military style that seems to bother them.  “Who needs military weapons?”  she says.  Of course, a gun styled to look like one made for the military, painted black or camouflage, is still s civilian weapon, and is not of course an “automatic” weapon or machine gun. It’s just emotions.  But…

But that idea, that it’s the military style that seems to bother them, is misleading. Over and over again, the far left which now makes up a significant percentage of this country’s leadership reveals that they want to terminate the Second Amendment of the Bill of Rights permanently. No guns at all — except in the hands of government, of course. Armed guards for politicians and their families included, naturally. Even Feinstein, when arguing for the original gun bad back in 1994, began by noting that she had long carried a gun for her own protection.

Folks on the left seem to labor under the perception that a bullet fired from an “assault weapon” (a gun decorated and accessorized to have a military style) is more “high powered” than the same bullet fired from a rifle without the pistol grips and such.  Piers Morgan, in losing this debate with Jesse Ventura, uses the phrase “high-powered assault weapons” multiple times. The audience gives the debate resoundingly to Ventura.

Note that Morgan was objecting to Ventura’s handgun, nothing to do with “assault weapons.” It is easy to watch “assault weapon” debates and catch the progressives revealing that they would ban all guns.

The Assault Weapons Ban had little effect

Various studies,  as noted this article , have shown the AWB to have done little good — and that its expiration in 2004 had no discernible effect.  This is understandable; scary guns are used in vary few crimes indeed, since most criminals are concerned about mobility and concealability, not impressing their victims with how cool their guns look.  One study quoted by the Brady Foundation tried to make hay out of the fact that non-assault weapons went from 95% to 98% of gun homicides under the ban, but they had to skip many stats to pick out this odd one.  Here’s how the Brady Campaign phrases it: “URGENCY: Since the ban expired, police chiefs across the country report increases in assault weapons used in crime and used against them.”  The actual percentages show, without question, that military-style weapons are not a major factor.

Mass murders, of course, increased under the gun ban. Even limiting guns to “standard capacity” magazines simply means a second or two to reload the gun; this is hardly going to stop rampages, and it has not in the past. Ignoring, of course, that criminals will still obtain any degree of firepower they decide they need.

Even left-wing Wikipedia agrees about the lack of effect:

Expiration and effect on crime

Opponents of the ban claimed that its expiration has seen little if any increase in crime, while Senator Diane Feinstein claimed the ban was effective because “It was drying up supply and driving up prices.”[7]

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the “assault weapon” ban and other gun control attempts, and found “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence,” noting “that insufficient evidence to determine effectiveness should not be interpreted as evidence of ineffectiveness.”[8] A 2004 critical review of research on firearms by a National Research Council panel also noted that academic studies of the assault weapon ban “did not reveal any clear impacts on gun violence” and noted “due to the fact that the relative rarity with which the banned guns were used in crime before the ban … the maximum potential effect of the ban on gun violence outcomes would be very small….”[9]

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.[10] That study by Christopher S. Koper, Daniel J. Woods, and Jeffrey A. Roth of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology, University of Pennsylvania found no statistically significant evidence that either the assault weapons ban or the ban on magazines holding more than 10 rounds had reduced gun murders. However, they concluded that it was “premature to make definitive assessments of the ban’s impact on gun crime,” and argue that if the ban had been in effect for more than nine years, benefits might have begun to appear.[11]

Research by John Lott in the 2000 second edition of More Guns, Less Crime provided the first research on state and the Federal Assault Weapon Bans.[12] The 2010 third edition provided the first empirical research on the 2004 sunset of the Federal Assault Weapon Ban.[13] Generally, the research found no impact of these bans on violent crime rates, though the third edition provided some evidence that Assault Weapon Bans slightly increased murder rates. Lott’s book The Bias Against Guns provided evidence that the bans reduced the number of gun shows by over 20 percent.[14] Koper, Woods, and Roth studies focus on gun murders, while Lott’s looks at murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assaults. Unlike their work, Lott’s research accounted for state Assault Weapon Bans and 12 other different types of gun control laws.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence examined the impact of the Assault Weapons Ban in its 2004 report, On Target: The Impact of the 1994 Federal Assault Weapon Act. Examining 1.4 million guns involved in crime, “in the five-year period before enactment of the Federal Assault Weapons Act (1990-1994), assault weapons named in the Act constituted 4.82% of the crime gun traces ATF conducted nationwide. Since the law’s enactment, however, these assault weapons have made up only 1.61% of the guns ATF has traced to crime.”[15] A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) stated that he “can in no way vouch for the validity” of the report.[16]

Regarding that last item: ATF, of course, is very selective about the guns they trace, especially under the current administration, and they’ve been supporting the false statistic that “90% of guns in Mexico come from the United States.” The actual number is a minority, evidently much less than half and perhaps less than a sixth:

According to the GAO report, some 30,000 firearms were seized from criminals by Mexican authorities in 2008. Of these 30,000 firearms, information pertaining to 7,200 of them (24 percent) was submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing. Of these 7,200 guns, only about 4,000 could be traced by the ATF, and of these 4,000, some 3,480 (87 percent) were shown to have come from the United States.

This means that the 87 percent figure relates to the number of weapons submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF that could be successfully traced and not from the total number of weapons seized by Mexican authorities or even from the total number of weapons submitted to the ATF for tracing. In fact, the 3,480 guns positively traced to the United States equals less than 12 percent of the total arms seized in Mexico in 2008 and less than 48 percent of all those submitted by the Mexican government to the ATF for tracing. This means that almost 90 percent of the guns seized in Mexico in 2008 were not traced back to the United States.

The remaining 22,800 firearms seized by Mexican authorities in 2008 were not traced for a variety of reasons. In addition to factors such as bureaucratic barriers and negligence, many of the weapons seized by Mexican authorities either do not bear serial numbers or have had their serial numbers altered or obliterated. It is also important to understand that the Mexican authorities simply don’t bother to submit some classes of weapons to the ATF for tracing. Such weapons include firearms they identify as coming from their own military or police forces, or guns that they can trace back themselves as being sold through the Mexican Defense Department’s Arms and Ammunition Marketing Division (UCAM). Likewise, they do not ask ATF to trace military ordnance from third countries like the South Korean fragmentation grenades commonly used in cartel attacks.

NPR hosts an “open minded” segment

Interestingly, NPR’s interviewee in this interview on arming people in schools used the phrase “open-minded” to refer to people in conservative states:

MARTIN: Mm-hmm. There have also been reports that teachers have shown more interest in getting firearms training. And I want to play a clip from Utah special education teacher Kasey Hansen who recently attended one of these classes. And Kasey Hansen told CNN that if she had additional training she would actually consider taking a gun to school and this is what she had to say.


KASEY HANSEN: I would take a bullet for any one of the students in the school, if it came down to it. And I just want extra options to protect myself as well as my students. I believe I would bring one.

MARTIN: You know, I’m wondering whether this is really more of the same kind of regional cultural, philosophical divide that exists already in the country. Because it tends to be that people who live in kind of dense urban areas are more suspicious of the benefit of firearms than people who live in more rural, more Western, you know, areas, less populated areas, whatever, you know, are more open to the benefit of firearms.

RICHMOND: I think that’s an interesting question and I think it would be fascinating to lay out a map of the United States and do a color grid and see where this actually sort of falls out. Are we are going to see this more in the Western and Southern states, which have, as you describe it, more of that sort of open-mindedness in a sense about the idea or the value of a gun?

But I think it’s important to note that a lot of the teachers who are going for this training have never touched a gun, in some cases have never seen a gun, except for maybe in a movie or in a display case. So the idea of removing some of that fear over what a weapon is isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

And also, it’s important to note that that training that teachers are going through in some cases, it’s more comprehensive than just sending them out to target practice. It’s giving them better ideas of what to do if an intruder comes into a room, how to stop somebody with physical force and how to respond.

This, for NPR, is quite a distance from their normal reporting on the topic, and strikes me as reasonable. I’ve added the tag “media bias” to this post to make certain to include for someone looking for my overall comments on the topic.  It’s not always bad, though the bias in NPR and other leftist outlets is very largely bad.

President Obama and guns

Barack Obama had reinstating the assault weapons ban on his campaign site, and it became one the the posted priorities (on as soon as he took office. He had other things to address first, though — things that involved much more cashflow and control, such as the ten trillion dollar stimulus.  (Many refer to this as a $1 trillion stimulus, but it’s appropriate to look at the ten-year effect, which is how revenue increases and tax reductions and spending “cuts” are described.  Obama’s deficit has been and will be up by this trillion dollars each year.)

But gun control — taking guns away from American citizens — has always been close to Obama’s heart, it seems.  Consider the very active anti-gun activities of the Joyce Foundation, from the chart below (from Wikipedia):

The Joyce Foundation anti-gun activities.

Joyce Foundation Activities

President Obama was on the board of this organization for years, was offered the chairmanship of it, and declined only to run for office as a state senator (as part of the socialist New Party of Illinois). The Joyce Foundation divides their grant activities into many categories, so that they can claim that only a small portion is directed to gun control. But if you look at this chart, you’ll see that many of the “educational,” “medical,” “legal,” “religious” and other activities are also gun-related. “Educating” people about guns, researching the “medical” effects of guns, what “legal” restrictions can be put on them, and what “religious” institutions can do to get guns to be unpopular with their congregations.  One of the Joyce campaigns from years ago is now national — ASK (“Asking Saves Kids”) is a program to get educators to ask children if there are any guns in the home, and to report this information.  Joyce’s largest single gun control funding goes to an organization that calls for “an outright ban on handguns, semi-automatic and other firearms, and substantial restrictions on gun owners.”

The New York and Katrina Gun Permits

New York State just beefed up their long-standing laws against slingshots, knuckles (whether brass or plastic), walking canes that double as clubs and other such deadly devices.  There is some confusion about this; they’ve increased the penalties, and have a terminal confusion over the word “firearm” by implying at several points that a rifle or shotgun is not a firearm. The new legislation also goes after the “high capacity magazines” and also removes an exemption for armed riders on a school bus (previously permitted with the school’s authorization).  More defense-free zones added to the list.

At least, as you are mugged/robbed/raped in these violent towns after you’ve been stripped of your self-defense rights, you can take comfort from the knowledge that what the criminal is doing and the weapons he possesses are actually against the law.

A government registry of gun permits is a bad idea, it seems to me. This was evidenced by the publishing in New York of the addresses of gun permit holders — which were available based on Freedom of Information Act requests. But there is more than leftist media groups to be concerned about: During the Hurricane Katrina tragedy in 2005, law enforcement went around to everyone with gun permits, and confiscated them.  This video tells part of that story.  Years later, the lawsuit against the government was settled, but the thousands of confiscated guns had turned to “1,280,” then to 700 or so.

Just after this, it was learned that the confiscated guns had been left to rot in 55-gallon drums exposed to the elements, and were ruined.  And, of course, during Katrina it was only criminals who were left with guns. That was the real issue: law-abiding citizens were left defenseless, during a time when law enforcement utterly failed. (Some of the police were, famously, among the looters of stores during the Katrina aftermath.)

The New Approach to Gun Bans

Since the political approach is not going to succeed — leftists do not have the votes — Obama and his cronies are trying new tactics.  They are pressuring businesses to deny support to legal trade having to do with weapons.

Note that this is NOT separating out “assault weapons” — it’s everything.  Consider Bank of America’s recent attacks on their long-time customers who are involved with legal firearm trade: They’re freezing accounts and ending business relationships.  Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s letter to Bank of America (and at least one other bank) has been exposed, and is discussed here.

Various other businesses, under pressure from the Obama administration,  have launched “gun bans” — often simply called that. Again, no distinction is made for scary-looking assault weapons; it’s simply “gun = bad.”  The New York Times is in on the act (with a piece called “The Guns Hiding in Your Portfolio”), and California has deflected $5 billion dollars away from funds that involve firearms in some fashion.

One outdoor show has canceled its even scheduled for next week, as too many vendors and attendees pulled out when they announced that there would be no “assault weapons” vendors allowed at the show. Perhaps other groups will feel this pressure from Americans, rather than just the leftist government.

Note that the federal government’s position here is exactly the opposite of their position on pornography.  If you are an operator of communication satellites and you qualify as a “common carrier,” you must carry pornography, even if you object.  Any vendor of such material can pay you to do so, and you cannot deny them nor even charge them a higher rate.  This is a federal requirement.

It is peculiar, what the federal government considers worth protecting, and worth attacking. Or, as the group Steely Dan put it years ago, “the things you think are precious I can’t understand.”

===|==============/ Keith DeHavelle