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Monday, January 14, 2013

An Assault Weapons Ban, Piece By Piece

Let's get one thing clear immediately, the "assault weapon" classification is not some BS term meant to scare people away from certain guns. When someone tells you that the only differences between an assault rifle and a regular rifle are cosmetic, they're lying. The adaptations and customizations made to an assault weapon serve a purpose and that purpose is to make it easier to fire a lot of bullets in a short amount of time. To say there's no difference between a hunting rifle and an AR-15 is the same as saying there's no difference between a car off the dealer's lot and a street rod -- they look different because they are different.

There's a longer explanation here. But the shortest explanation is just as convincing: a "tricked out" AR-15 costs $1,000 at WalMart. Meanwhile, a regular deer rifle will cost you about 500 to 600 bucks. An example is here. It's very similar to a gun I used to use when I hunted deer. Out of 24 reviews at the site, 20 give this 500 dollar rifle five stars. It's not some cheap piece of junk. It's a perfectly good sportsman's rifle, used by hunters around the world.

Now, who in their right mind would spend twice as much for something that they know is different only in appearance? A gun is a tool. And anyone who pays that much more for a tool because they like the way it looks is a chump. There is obviously a difference and the people who love these weapons know it. When they say they "just look scary," they lie. And one person who knows this is Newton Police Chief Michael Kehoe.

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Raw Story:

It’s been one month since the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Newtown Police Chief Michael Kehoe says it’s time for the White House to ban military-style assault weapons, restrict high-capacity magazines and close loopholes in the background check system.

In an interview with NBC’s Michael Isikoff, Kehoe recalled that he was one of the first to respond to the December elementary school massacre and entered the school to find “the eerie silence in the hallways, the smell of burnt gunpowder and then the bodies of dead children on the floor of the classrooms.”

“I was sickened, I was angry,” Kehoe explained. “It was something I never could have imagined could have happened in any school in Newtown.”

"Ban assault weapons," Kehoe says. "Restrict those magazines that have so many bullets in them, shore up any loopholes in our criminal background checks... We never like to think we’re going to be outgunned in any situation we’re dealing with. We do a good job of securing dynamite in our society... [Assault rifles] are another form of dynamite... I think they should ban them."

The problem, of course, is that the House of Representatives will probably never pass an all-out assault weapons ban. But this is not the big problem that you might think. Already, cracks are showing in the GOP's opposition to banning anything even remotely gun-related. Specifically, members are saying that they won't rule out bans on high-capacity magazines -- and high-capacity magazines or "banana clips" are one hallmark of an assault weapon.

An assault weapon is a weapon with a specific group of features. If we can't outlaw them all at once, we can shut them down one by one. None of them would stand up to public scrutiny very well (i.e., who needs a grenade launcher or a bayonet mount?).

If we have to take on assault weapons piece by piece, then that's what we should do. Because we can't let these weapons go unchecked. Since the original assault weapons ban expired in 2004, mass killings have risen. In fact, statistician Sam Wang calls the period during the ban "peaceful by US standards." Instances fell during the period, then rose again after the ban expired. Wang concludes that "renewing the assault weapon ban as a route to pre-2005 conditions seems like a rational response to today's horrific events." Everything you've been told about the ban from gun nuts is wrong: it made a difference, crime didn't rise because people were disarmed, and -- most importantly -- Joseph Adolph Hitlerstalin didn't rise up and throw everyone into death camps. If you're old enough, you probably remember never living in a Hitlerstalin death camp.

We can get assault weapon ban back again, just maybe not all at once. We can have something approaching sane gun laws in the US, it just may take more time than we'd like. Not passing an assault weapons ban wouldn't be an end, it would be the beginning of a much longer alternative approach.

-Wisco

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