Why Not An Assault Weapons Ban?


Our recent guest blogger, Jerry Thompson has more to say about guns in our society:

“I would like one more attempt to (discuss) whether we should tolerate military-style assault weapons saturating our society under the guise of the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Recall that the Second Amendment was written by people accustomed to the flint-lock, single shot musket (original intent), not our current military weaponry (2012 intent).

“As Justice Scalia has brought up, there is another weapon which could, under the current general argument of gun-rights advocates, be considered by the Supreme Court a legal weapon for average, law-abiding citizens to own. That weapon is the shoulder fired rocket-launcher, capable of bringing down aircraft. The conversation is now that the rocket launcher is an extreme example and should not be considered as likely to be approved for the general citizenry. The rapid-fire, high-capacity assault weapon was once considered an extreme example and was banned from the general population’s ownership for a ten-year period (1994-2004). Now, it is no longer considered extreme, although just as extreme in its risk to society. The conversation has wandered back to general gun ownership, not military-style weaponry, because it is easier for the gun advocates to argue under the generalities than the specifics, it seems. As they might argue,

Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.
Assault weapons don’t kill people by the dozens. People kill people by the dozens.
Rocket launchers don’t kill people by the hundreds. People kill people by the hundreds.

Where do we stop, folks?

Okay, Jerry, good question. He brings up concerns of many citizens; however, he’s operating with skewed information. First, let’s define what assault weapons are. They are functionally indistinguishable from ordinary semiautomatic hunting rifles. They don’t fire more rapidly; they don’t deliver more lethal rounds; and they don’t spray bullets. They just look like military arms. What disqualified a weapon when the assault weapons ban was in effect was looking like a military weapon—pistol grip, bayonet mount, larger magazine.

My friend Jerry’s idea that assault weapons are fully automatic—pull the trigger and bullets go flying—probably comes from TV commentators and certain politicians. Actually, it’s been illegal to buy a machine gun on the open market in this country for the last 80+ years. There are ~250,000 in private hands, all of which required a special permit. Note this—with all those guns in private ownership, there’s no record of a legally owned machine gun being used in a crime during that entire 80-year period.

Moreover, assault weapons are not usually the weapon of choice. Neither of the two worst shooting sprees in U.S. history involved assault weapons. James Huberty, who killed 20 people at a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California in 1984, used a shotgun, a pistol and a hunting rifle. George Hennard, who killed 22 people at a cafeteria in Killeen, Texas in 1991, used two ordinary pistols. Still, gun opponents are obsessed about assault weapons.

I believe that Jerry has taken Justice Scalia’s reference to the hand-held rocket launcher in the wrong direction, as well. The Justice did not suggest it would be considered by SCOTUS, only that it conceivably could, since the 2nd Amendment addresses the right to bear arms—“bear” meaning hand-held.

Let me digress to explain why I think supporters of the right to bear arms are adamant about not letting the 2nd Amendment get watered down—even to prohibiting so-called assault weapons: Because they have the same attitude toward bearing arms as the pro-abortionists do about not allowing any restriction on a woman’s right to get an abortion.

How so, you ask? Because both are afraid of “the camel getting his nose under the tent” and beginning to whittle down their position until one group loses their right to bear arms and the other loses their right to unrestricted abortion.

If my supposition is correct, we are only talking about a matter of degree—a few hundred people killed by legally obtained firearms over the past hundred years versus fifty million babies aborted since Roe v. Wade.

Which, I ask you, poses the greater threat to our society?

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About samuelehall

A follower of Jesus, husband, father of 3 adult children, writer and learner.
This entry was posted in Families, Risking change/changing the risk and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Why Not An Assault Weapons Ban?

  1. m kofron says:

    I now live in a state where it is very easy to buy a gun and there are no regulations for carrying a concealed. a month ago I read in the Sunday paper an article about a trial of an attorney who shot and killed a business owner in a road rage incident. Besides gun bank robbery there was an article about an ex-boyfriend who shot his ex-girlfriend…she was 16.
    And then I venture back into the local news last night and hear about a fan shooting another fan after a football game……..and a guy whose gun that was in his pocket accidently went off at a McDonalds at lunch time. The bullet grazed someone. For the greater good there must be some regulation to keep everyone from buying deadly force to carry around with them in their pocket with their cell phone. No presidential or gubernatorial canidate will address this………or the NRA will make sure they are not elected. We could talk about big money lobbies at another time:)

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks to Matt for his concerned comments (and earlier to Baxter, Stan, and Jerry during my illness–which remains).
      Matt, your citations all involved guns but they were perpetrated by undisciplined people who would have used tire irons, broken glass, or their fists.
      The problem is much deeper than guns.
      On another note, while I appreciate your comment, would you rather I not take time to correct typos?

      • m kofron says:

        I sincerely apologise for typos I appreciate you taking the time to correct them.!!!!!! I am having some problems with finding spell check which is very important to poor spellers and typists.
        Our world is much different now than the 18th century. I think they did not have drunken driving laws. Driving drunk is much deeper than cars and alcohol. We do have laws ro restrict drinking and driving, weather they have deep problems or not.Terrorism is a much deeper problem than people taking weapons on a planes. We have billions of dollars on security to scan everyone who flies, we do not know who the undiscipline people are. If someone is mad at me or one of my loved ones in a parking lot or in a Mcdonalds, I would prefer they have a tire iron, fist, or broken glass in their pocket. Infatuations are hard to change with reason.
        ” Common sense is not all that common” Mark Twain

      • samuelehall says:

        Thanks, Matt, for your reasoned response. Yeah, I guess I’d feel less threatened with loss of life if someone came at me with a tire iron than pointing a gun at my head. Neither would be pleasant.
        However, statistics show that women with a gun are far less likely to be assaulted than those waving a tire iron or whatever.

  2. Jerry says:

    Why do opinions have to be like electric light switches, either on or off? Why do we have the “nose under the tent” argument? With regard to hand-held gun rights, maybe an opinion can be yes to some types of hand-held guns and no to others.. With regards to abortion, maybe some abortion rights are yes and some are no. I think that it may be the difference between extreme and moderate thinking. I welcome more thinkers to be more moderate. The water is warm. Come on in.

  3. Stan Baldwin says:

    I seem to have not made myself clear since you answer things I never said (or intended to say) . I never said all gun lovers are rabid; my remarks address those who are. I have guns and I have spent many happy hours in target practice and hunting, But banning assault weapons or hand-held rocket launchers or machine guns is no threat to those activities.

    There is a qualitative difference between banning something that is dangerous in and of itself (reckless driving) and banning something harmless in itself, or even desirable in itself (medical marijuana), on the grounds that a more extreme act might ensue.

  4. Baxter Hill says:

    The linkage between guns deaths and abortions seems, at the very least, nebulous and weakens an otherwise sensible opinion. To limit new types of weaponry is quite rational, but, in my current cynical view, with respect to current weapons the camel not only has his nose in the tent, he is inside and will never be gotten out. With the vast number of weapons in our country, about 200 million or so, the killing will go on and on.

  5. Jerry says:

    George Will’s column and the premise of the “Three Felons a Day”, however disturbing in governmental overreach, don’t seem to relate to the Second Amendment rights. They could relate to citizens’ political involvement to solve problems in government, though. I guess, then, fear can be helpful if directed toward a useful goal but self-destructive otherwise.

    • samuelehall says:

      No, Jerry, my George Will reference was just to explain why many people are wary of government–in response to your question why guns rights people would fear the gummint. The government can hurt you in many more ways than with airplanes and drones.

  6. Jerry says:

    Well said, my friend. I will put my flintlock musket under my pillow and feel safe now. I think that the guns rights advocates may be more afraid of the government than their neighbors? If so, they are blowing in the wind, since the government is better armed with airplanes, tanks, drones, etc. Also, those same folks likely will vote for more government defense spending, which will further disturb their arms balance between government and citizens. Perfect love casts out fear, I understand.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks for the good words, Jerry. To your comments about fearing government: Surely you remember the comic strip Pogo. At one sequence, Pogo makes this profound statement, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” That would be hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. A week ago, George Will wrote a scathing column about NOAA’s persecution of Nancy Black, one of its own employees(!). Will also mentioned Harvey Silverglate’s invaluable 2009 book, Three Felonies a Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. Read that and you’ll probably understand why guns rights advocates (and many other citizens) fear the government.

  7. Stan Baldwin says:

    Personally. I am suspicious of all “camel nose in the tent” or “slippery slope” arguments. Things should be opposed, or not opposed, on their merits, not on where they may lead. Visiting Israel, we were not allowed to have meat and milk in the same meal, nor could they be served in the same dishes because the Old Testament forbids seething a kid in its mother’s milk. This is not typical of all Jews, of course, nor was the prohibition of opening a refrigerator on the Sabbath because the light would come on, violating the law that said to kindle no fire on the Sabbath. Jesus faced plenty of such slippery slopers and camel-nose worriers. Jesus said they strained out gnats and swallowed camels. Hear, hear, O ye rabid gun lovers and abortion advocates.

    • samuelehall says:

      Thanks, Stan, for your early weigh-in. I would like to agree with you but don’t we make judgments on many things, simply because we know where they may lead? Traffic laws, medical marijuana, grazing rights, leash laws–on the surface, three of the four (w/o getting bogged down in detail) seem reasonable simply because we know where they may lead.
      Um, I should remind you that all gun lovers are not rabid. Many just like to go out and do target shooting. I used to go to the dump and shoot rats.
      I need to get some sleep. You, too.

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