Today's editorial (originally printed Saturday, 10/4) comes from the Washington Post, and is entitled
to thoroughly overwhelm and reduce to submission or passivity (quell a riot)
That's not what they're talking about here.
But what a nifty title, eh?
MARYLANDERS HAVE long recognized how outlandish it is to allow the marketing of military assault-style weapons that have no place in any civilized state.Unless they're in the hands of government employees, of course.
A decade ago Maryland banned the sale or transfer of a number of assault-style pistols; but even with a federal ban on the manufacture of 19 different models of assault weapons, creative copies of these high-powered firearms keep flooding the street markets that cater to violent criminals.Really? Then the Violence Policy Center's report indicating that Bushmaster sold 150,589 semi-automatic rifles in the period between 1994 and 2000 means that every single one of them went to "violent criminals?" That's odd. The lower receiver of my AR (the part that's legally a "gun") is a Bushmaster, and last I checked, I don't have so much as a speeding ticket on my record. But all those guns were "flooding the street" eh? What about the 18,211 made by DPMS? Or the 32,504 made by Armalite? And those are just the domestically manufactured versions of the AR-15 type rifle. That doesn't include the imported AK variants.
Right, the only people who want to buy "assault rifles" are violent criminals. Sure.
The federal ban is set to expire in 11 months unless Congress acts, and some Maryland leaders -- including two top Democrats who may run against each other for their party's nomination for governor -- are united in support of a state bill to outlaw the sale or transfer of 45 models of assault-style rifles and shotguns. Their shared concern: If Congress caves in to the all-guns-are-great lobbyists and lets the limited federal protections die, Maryland ought to have an even better ban on its books. One of the weapons that would be banned, a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, was used in the sniper attacks in this region a year ago.An "even better ban" that won't do what it's purported to do - keep "assault weapons" out of the hands of the violent criminals. Let's look (again) at Muhammed and Malvo.
Point 1: The rifle they used was a post-ban AR - one of the hundreds of thousands already in circulation (and this is what the gun
Point 2: Muhammed and Malvo have already stated that they stole the rifle from a gun shop in Washington state, so a ban in Maryland wouldn't have any effect on the "availability" of the gun, would it?
Point 3: Muhammed and Malvo fired one shot at each of their victims, so the type of firearm involved was immaterial. Had they used a deer rifle chambered in a cartridge such as the 7mm Remington Magnum, then it is likely there wouldn't have been a single survivor, and they could have made their shots from a considerably greater distance. I guess those "long range sniper rifles" are next on the list, right?
But they keep milking the fact that an "assault rifle" was the weapon used.
Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley have good political as well as safety reasons for backing a more inclusive ban.No, they just have a political reason. Safety doesn't enter into the issue.
Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. voted as a member of Congress to overturn the federal ban on assault weapons; he prefers to echo the National Rifle Association position that stiffer sentences for gun crimes are a more effective approach. That may scare some criminals, even if it does nothing to lower the number of suicides or accidental deaths of children. But what is so essential about these weapons?And what does "suicides and accidental deaths of children" have to do with an assault weapon ban? Or are we just supposed to ignore this non sequitur?
The 1994 federal ban should be extended, not ended.Although it was illustrated at the beginning of the editorial that it was, essentially, useless.
The 19 weapons covered are listed by name, and the provisions include a ban on "copies" or "duplicates." But state Sen. Robert J. Garagiola (D-Montgomery) and Del. Neil F. Quinter (D-Howard) fear that the federal ban may not be renewed, never mind improved. Federal uniform protection would be best, but in the meantime states are and should be enacting measures of their own. As of August 2002, seven states had some form of assault weapon ban: California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York.Yes, and it's worked so well in those states, hasn't it? Kept them out of the hands of the law-abiding, gotten some people who were otherwise law abiding to break a new law, and done nothing to make anybody safer. And now, at least, California's ban is being challenged at the Supreme Court level. (We'll see if the Court deigns to actually hear the case.)
It isn't as if sportsmen would be denied their firearms. The federal law provides specific protection to 670 types of hunting rifles and shotguns currently being manufactured. Isn't that ample?First: The Second Amendment isn't about "sport."
Second: If you can ban one type of weapon on appearance or function, you can ban more, or all. It's called "the slippery slope" for a reason. The law protects 670 weapons now - that could change tomorrow.
Third: Sportsmen actually do use these weapons. The AR-15 is the rifle of choice for National Match competition, and makes a damned fine varmit rifle in some configurations. But who cares about that? They're eeeevil black rifles!
The weapons prohibited are those with multiple assault-weapon features such as a protruding pistol grip or grenade launcher or designs for spray-firing from the hip as fast as a shooter can keep pulling the trigger.What? No mention of the bayonet lugs? The original ban made those illegal. Or the folding or collapsable stocks - what about those? I thought those defined an "assault weapon." Now it's the pistol grip and grenade launchers? We have a problem with criminals launching grenades now?
Little wonder, then, that law enforcement officials -- those who work to protect people from sniper fire or armed criminals -- support proposals to do away with assault-style weapons.Except, of course, for the ones THEY have. You know, the ones that are often fully automatic and equipped with collapsable stocks.
How effective can homeland security measures be in a country awash with some of the most efficient firearms sought by international as well as domestic terrorists?Right. Terrorists who can rent Ryder trucks and fill them with ANFO. Terrorists who can smuggle the full-auto versions of the AK into the country. Terrorists who will have no problem getting any weapon they want because they don't care about the law.
Can they get any more wound up without becoming hysterical?
Once again, I'm reminded of the VPC's comment about the "assault weapon" issue, because (remember the title of the op-ed? To Quell the Killings?) "assault weapons" aren't the problem the VPC sees. The VPC believes that handguns should be banned (and confiscated) because they are used in the overwhelming majority of killings in this country. But the effort to accomplish this has fallen flat. So the Violence Policy Center has latched onto the "assault weapon" frenzy for purely pragmatic reasons:
It will be a new topic in what has become to the press and public an "old" debate.For the VPC, the ends (gun bans) justify the means (fearmongering, distortion, and outright lying.) We "mistakenly believe" the Second Amendment means what it says. We are supposed to believe that "plastic firearms" that can get through a metal detector actually exist. And - taking advantage of the poor ignorant public they so urgently want to protect from itself - they want to take advantage of the mistaken assumption that "anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun." (See The Lying News Media piece for an illustration of this tactic. Don't even bother to try to convince me that it was "an honest misunderstanding.")
Although handguns claim more than 20,000 lives a year, the issue of handgun restriction consistently remains a non-issue with the vast majority of legislators, the press, and public. The reasons for this vary: the power of the gun lobby; the tendency of both sides of the issue to resort to sloganeering and pre-packaged arguments when discussing the issue; the fact that until an individual is affected by handgun violence he or she is unlikely to work for handgun restrictions; the view that handgun violence is an "unsolvable" problem; the inability of the handgun restriction movement to organize itself into an effective electoral threat; and the fact that until someone famous is shot, or something truly horrible happens, handgun restriction is simply not viewed as a priority. Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons. (Most emphasis mine, but the emphasis on "a new topic" was theirs)
Efforts to stop restrictions on assault weapons will only further alienate the police from the gun lobby.
Until recently, police organizations viewed the gun lobby in general, and the NRA in particular, as a reliable friend. This stemmed in part from the role the NRA played in training officers and its reputation regarding gun safety and hunter training. Yet, throughout the 1980s, the NRA has found itself increasingly on the opposite side of police on the gun control issue. Its opposition to legislation banning armor-piercing ammunition, plastic handguns, and machine guns, and its drafting of and support for the McClure/Volkmer handgun decontrol bill, burned many of the bridges the NRA had built throughout the past hundred years. As the result of this, the Law Enforcement Steering Committee was formed. The Committee now favors such restriction measures as waiting periods with background check for handgun purchase and a ban on machine guns and plastic firearms. If police continue to call for assault weapons restrictions, and the NRA continues to fight such measures, the result can only be a further tarnishing of the NRA's image in the eyes of the public, the police, and NRA members. The organization will no longer be viewed as the defender of the sportsman, but as the defender of the drug dealer. (The "divide and conquer" strategy.)
Efforts to restrict assault weapons are more likely to succeed than those to restrict handguns.
Although the majority of Americans favor stricter handgun controls, and a consistent 40 percent of Americans favor banning the private sale and possession of handguns, many Americans do believe that handguns are effective weapons for home self-defense and the majority of Americans mistakenly believe that the Second Amendment of the Constitution guarantees the individual right to keep and bear arms. Yet, many who support the individual's right to own a handgun have second thoughts when the issue comes down to assault weapons. Assault weapons are often viewed the same way as machine guns and "plastic" firearms—a weapon that poses such a grave risk that it's worth compromising a perceived constitutional right.
Seems the Washington Post and a lot of politicians and other newspapers see it that way too.