I own firearms and I think shooting is fun.
This makes me some crazy right-wing gun nut, I suppose, but that’s OK. I don’t mind.
Nonetheless, over the years I have learned a little about guns. I get how they work and what they are capable of – and not capable of.
One thing I’ve noticed when it comes to the gun debate is how misunderstood guns can be. If I don’t understand something, I try to figure it out before I opine about it.
Not so much with some anti-gun people.
Talk show host Piers Morgan has made a name for himself as a strident opponent of guns in America. And that’s fine. He’s certainly entitled to his opinion. And I’m not suggesting you have to be a weapons expert to have an opinion on guns.
But Morgan marginalizes himself all the time by saying stuff that just isn’t true. He referred to the weapon used in the Sandy Hook shootings as a “machine gun,” which is completely inaccurate. He also says stuff like, “An AR-15 is not a harmless hunting rifle as some of these gun guys want to put it.”
That’s wrong in a couple of ways. First of all, I don’t think anyone who knows anything about guns would call an AR-15 “harmless.” Second, the .223 – the caliber of bullet the AR-15 fires – is one of the most popular small-game hunting and varmint rifle cartridges of all time.
I get that Morgan and others are against guns, but why not do a little research?
This whole notion of banning “assault weapons” seems uninformed, too.
First of all, although there have been highly publicized instances of shooters using “assault weapons,” they account for only a tiny percentage of all shootings.
In 2010, according to the FBI, there were 12,996 murders in the U.S. (That’s steadily down from 15,087 in 2006, by the way.) Of those, 8,775 were caused by firearms. It breaks down this way: handguns; 6,009; rifles, 358; shotguns, 373; other, 96; and firearm type not stated, 1,939.
That 358 “rifle” number includes all rifles, not just “assault weapons.” And that “type not stated” number likely includes very few “assault weapons.” Pretty much anytime a rifle of any type is used, it’s stated. The vast majority of “not stated’ firearms are likely handguns.
To put this in perspective, the FBI crime stats show that 540 people were murdered by “clubs and hammers” in 2010. It’s safe to assume that more people died from hammer wounds than “assault weapon” wounds in 2010.
So, really, banning “assault weapons” probably isn’t going to do much good with regard to gun deaths in America.
Beyond that, it seems lawmakers like to “ban” weapons with synthetic stocks that look sinister even though they fire the same cartridge in the same manner as a rifle with a pretty wooden stock.
The fact that lawmakers want to ban ugly guns and not pretty ones seems silly to me.
Aside from all that nonsense is the abject futility of “banning” guns the way lawmakers “ban” guns anyway. If it’s anything like the previous “bans,” they’re really not “banning” much.
We have precedents here.
In 1986, machine guns were banned. Banned?
If I were so inclined, I could travel to any Class 3 gun dealer in Indiana and legally buy a machine gun tomorrow. Now, it would be really expensive, like $5,000 for a beat-up Mac 10, but I could do it.
Same with the assault weapons ban of 1994. After that, you could still buy assault weapons, they just got crazy expensive. In fact, during the assault weapons ban, the Columbine High School shooters used the “banned” Tec-9 “assault weapon.”
That’s the way these “bans” generally work.
Now, I must say, current legislation authored by Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., is lots tougher than the previous “ban.” It still grandfathers in all the “assault weapons” in existence.
But it requires current owners of existing assault weapons to register them with the federal government, which imposes a $200 tax per firearm. It also requires the owner to submit photographs and fingerprints to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, as well as the address where the firearm will be kept.
And the definition of what an assault weapon is has been beefed up. It says, “Any semiautomatic, centerfire, OR RIMFIRE (emphasis mine) rifle that has a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds ...”
OK, so this means if you have a Mossberg 702 Plinkster .22 rifle with a 25-round magazine you have to register it with the feds and pay them $200 for the privileged of keeping your legally acquired “assault weapon?” Are they kidding? The thing costs $159 new out of the box.
Oh, and by the way, you have to get permission from the feds to transport your Plinkster across state lines.
You also would be prohibited from ever selling your Plinkster and you couldn’t give it to your heirs. Upon your death, your Plinkster would be forfeited to the government.
I guess the one thing about Feinstein’s bill is that it’s so over the top it has little chance of passing. I mean, really. A Mossberg plinkster is now an “assault weapon?”
Come on. Nobody’s going to vote for that. Especially not lots of Democrat U.S. Senators from Midwest and western states who realize how asinine it is.
My guess is we’ll probably wind up with an “assault weapons ban” highly similar to the one from 1994, which wasn’t really much of a “ban” at all.
I realize America has a problem when it comes to crazy people shooting up movie theaters or classrooms and I wish I had some answers.
It’s a daunting problem, and I know lawmakers feel pressured to do something about it.
Some of the things they’re talking about – improved mental health regulations and expanded background checks for gun buyers – could help.
I’m all for keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and crazy people.
But “banning assault weapons”?
It’s just a knee-jerk, ineffective way for lawmakers to make it seem like they’re really serious about gun violence.