Monday, September 13, 2004


YES!! After ten utterly unnecessary and looooong years, the federal assault weapons ban is no more. As of today, it has now sunset pursuant to its terms, without Congressional reenactment.

True, Dubya said that IF it were passed he would sign it (and this from a good Texas boy!) - but I'll forgive him that bit of political maneuvering. Really, it was a safe call for him. Took away another potential attack point for the Dems, but you'll notice he never lobbied for the reenactment (and he has caught grief for that) - I figure he knew that the bill would never come across his desk. And he was right...

Thanks to the foresight - or is that naive assumptions? - of its drafters, the sunset clause has passed WITHOUT Congress reenacting this pointless piece of legislation. At the time, it was argued that people needed to be protected from these awful, "mean" looking weapons. Somewhere around 3% or so (don't quote me on that figure, that's a guestimate I'm pulling from the deep recessess of my brain, so it could be somewhat lower or higher - but I do know that it's a small percentage) of all gun-involved crimes involved an "assault weapon" within the meaning of the ban. As you can see - it was an "urgent" national problem (tounge FIRMLY in cheeck). This is, by the way, not considering that a large percentage of THOSE were committed by persons who were already legally forbidden to possess weapons - so their possession was illegal regardless of the AWB.

Mind you, most people didn't (and still don't) realize that these weapons were SEMI-auto - one pull of the trigger fires ONE round ONLY; it's NOT a machine gun, which are incredibly difficult to come by and require a complete federal background check along with approval from your local police chief - IF he decides to give it to you. Basically, the AWB excluded a class of firearms solely on their look. Really, you could take the basic action of an assault weapon, put a nice walnut "traditional style" stock on it, and have yourself a fine varmint or deer rifle - and it would now be completely PC and "legal."

Go check out a Ruger Mini-14 or Mini-30, and you'll see what I mean. Their basic functionality is not too unlike an AK-47 or SKS (semi-auto gas-operated blowback); in fact, they fire the same rounds (for the -30, 7.62x39, same round as the AK-47 and SKS), you can get high capacity magazines for them, and for a time (and will now happen again!) a replacement stock that made this very legal and (somewhat) PC weapon into a very "mean"-looking and illegal "assault-style" weapon.

An analgous example would be a law declaring your GEO Metro an illegal and unsafe dragster because you stuck a spoiler on the rear. Doesn't make a whole lot of sense, does it? That's precisely what the AWB was, though.

Gun ban nuts like to raise the banner of "no legitimate sporting purpose," and to a lesser extent, "no purpose for home defense." Now, I don't go hunting with an "Assault weapon" - I see no need for a 30 round clip when you're hunting deer (although gophers are a different story). For that matter, I wouldn't defend my home with an assault weapon - the typically full-jacketed bullets from the rifle rounds they fire are far too dangerous in close quarters. A stray bullet WILL go through several layers of drywall, and probably merrily pass into your neighbor's house, if the bullet isn't stopped by something - or someone - in the other room. (I should know - I watched them build my house, and I know how the walls are constructed!) For my defense, I reach for either my Glock 22 loaded with frangible bullets, or even better, a shotgun (which will NOT go through walls, and has the added advantage of not requiring too precise an aim!).

But that never was the point. The problem is, what do you define as "sporting purpose?" What about if hunting becomes completely a thing of the past? The gun ban crew will change their toon and seek a total ban - why would anyone want a gun at that point, they would argue? The point is - why do I need to justify to the government my desire posess a weapon - any weapon, especially when I am a law-abiding citizen? (Disclaimer - I do support, in principle, requiring safety training, like you do with drivers training. These are dangerous instrumentalities - just like a car - and people should learn how to handle them safely!)

Criminals get a presumption of innocence before our courts, but according to the, ahem, wonderful folks here and here I am to be presumed a criminal if I desire to own a firearm, and must prove my innocence to whatever societal standard is in vogue. Murder is illegal regardless of whether it's done with a gun, a knife, or bare hands, and taking one weapon out of a criminal's hands will NOT turn them into a Good Citizen (TM) - they'll simply find another way to kill, or rob, or rape, or (insert heinous crime here ________). As the sticker says, Guns don't kill people - People kill people.

Fundamentally, I believe that any second amendment encroachment premised upon nothing more than the "look and feel" of a firearm is incredibly dangerous, as well as disingenuous. It sets a dangerous precedent that opens the door for essentially ad hoc gun bans (which was, and is, the point of the anti-gun lobby - the eventual total disarmament of the US populace).

As a side note, anti-gun (if not liberal) bias in news reporting abounds. Reporters are naive about what, precisely, an assault weapon is, and the fact that it is NOT a machine gun - and they refuse to educate themselves. Or worse still, they know the difference, but publish misleading pieces to get people supporting something they know nothing about. See here for an example of what I mean - if you don't know anything about guns, you could conclude from this article that 1) machine guns abound, 2) the AWB was an attempt to keep them off the street, 3) dealers were simply getting around the ban and allowing dangerous machine guns on the streets, and 4) guns are registered, and if you're not registering them, you're a criminal.

Never you mind that, except for a few states, gun registration is not present in the US, and has been rejected numerous times at the federal level. (Except for fully auto machine guns, which have been registered since around the 60's to 70's.) And never you mind that, contrary to what the article suggests, assault weapons are designed to fire ONE BULLET ONLY per trigger pull - the whole "fire a bunch of bullets in a few seconds" only happens if you have a really fast trigger finger, and could be done with pretty much any "sporter" styled semi-auto firearm that was never touched by the ban. (P.S. Modifying any weapon to fire full auto - multiple rounds with one trigger pull - is a federal felony offense.)

Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go place an order for my AK-47.

(If you can't tell, I'm a pretty staunch Second Amendment supporter, occasional member of the NRA, and yes, gun owner.)


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen, my brother. Testify.

September 15, 2004 at 9:19 PM  
Blogger Brent H. DeBord said...

Forgive me for not giving you the feedback you deserve.

Good job.

October 22, 2004 at 7:42 AM  
Blogger JMW said...

Bah. I read back over it again, and I'm disjointed and truly incoherent at times.

Just like the title of this blog.

February 1, 2005 at 8:11 AM  

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