Tag: Federal Assault Weapons Ban

NYT admission that democrats are anti-second amendment thugs

The NYT OpEd page carries an article by Lois Becket which all but admits that democrats manufactured the term assault weapon because they hate armed citizens, and it now being admitted because this author thinks they should ban handguns:

OVER the past two decades, the majority of Americans in a country deeply divided over gun control have coalesced behind a single proposition: The sale of assault weapons should be banned. That idea was one of the pillars of the Obama administration’s plan to curb gun violence, and it remains popular with the public. In a poll last December, 59 percent of likely voters said they favor a ban. But in the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference. It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do. In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows.

The continuing focus on assault weapons stems from the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M16 rifle. This, in turn, obscures some grim truths about who is really dying from gunshots. Annually, 5,000 to 6,000 black men are murdered with guns. Black men amount to only 6 percent of the population. Yet of the 30 Americans on average shot to death each day, half are black males.

It was much the same in the early 1990s when Democrats created and then banned a category of guns they called “assault weapons.” America was then suffering from a spike in gun crime and it seemed like a problem threatening everyone. Gun murders each year had been climbing: 11,000, then 13,000, then 17,000. Democrats decided to push for a ban of what seemed like the most dangerous guns in America: assault weapons, which were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals, and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets. This politically defined category of guns — a selection of rifles, shotguns and handguns with “military-style” features — only figured in about 2 percent of gun crimes nationwide before the ban.

Emphasis mine. That term – assault weapons – was manufactured by democrats to push the anti-second amendment agenda. At least the author now admits that the problem the left has with guns is that their is no legal solution to people that feel life is cheap and that don’t care about laws, and making up shit to scare people doesn’t really stop crime. But her solution seems to be more of the same. The only way to reduce gun crime is to educate people about guns and to really put the type of people that use guns to commit the crime of murder out of circulation. But demcorats don’t want to do either. Roll back the stupid laws and actually deal with the criminals as criminals.

Oh, THAT Liberal Media, Part 425

I’m working on a 10-Year-Anniversary of Iraq post for, uh, two days ago. In the meantime, check out the Daily News‘s front page on the collapse of the federal assault weapons ban. Most people try to be a bit subtle in implying that people who oppose gun control are murdering children. Not the Daily News.

Oh, just to put off the usual Fox News retort, check out what Pew found on opinion vs. news reporting.

Biden Advises Law Breaking

Ladies and gentlemen, what would we do without Joe Biden. The other day, he addressed the issue of an assault weapons ban by saying that he advises his wife, while living in their “secluded” home, to defend herself with a shotgun. If she hears strange noises, she should empty both barrels into the air to scare them off.


A sergeant with the Wilmington, Del., police department explained to U.S. News that city residents are not allowed to fire guns on their property.

The sergeant, who preferred not to be identified, said that Wilmington residents are also not allowed to shoot trespassers. “On your property you can’t just shoot someone,” he said. “You have to really feel that your life is being threatened.”

Defense attorney John Garey—a former Delaware deputy attorney general—agreed, and added that several criminal charges might result if Jill Biden took her husband’s advice.

“In Delaware you have to be in fear of your life to use deadly force,” Garey said. “There’s nothing based on his scenario alone” indicating a reason to fear imminent death, he noted.

Garey said that under Biden’s scenario, Jill Biden could be charged with aggravated menacing, a felony, and reckless endangering in the first degree.

Other states have similar or even more stringent restrictions on firing weapons as warning shots because blasting off in random directions is dangerous. And, as it happens, more people are killed by shotguns every year than are killed by assault weapons.

I post this to make a semi-serious point: even a lot of people who are supposed to know this stuff have no idea how guns work or what the gun laws are in their own state. This isn’t just some random Democrat. This is man who headed up the Administration’s gun control proposals.

I suspect that Joe was talking out of his ass, since his house is not, in fact, very isolated (the linked articles shows another house within 100 feet and there’s a school nearby). But this may be one of those times when what came out of Joe’s ass is more informative than what came out of his mouth.

Kopel on Pelosi

You really should read Dave Kopel’s (PDF) prepared testimony for yesterday’s hearing on the assault weapons ban. It’s absolutely devastating to the case for it, showing that it is nebulous, far-reaching and likely to be ineffective at best.

“Doing something” is the slogan for politicians who seek merely to exploit terrible crimes for self-serving purposes. “Doing something effective” is the approach of people who want to save lives and protect the public, especially children.

The lives of Americans, especially school children, depend on the choice that elected officials make between these two alternatives.

The Left is focusing on a fairly minor academic dispute about a study on the previous assault weapons ban. That dispute seems to me to revolve around the definition of “worked”. For most people, the criteria for the assault weapons ban working would be that it reduced crime. It didn’t, or at least it can’t be clearly shown (the data are a bit noisy and a LOT of policies changed in the 90’s). But to the gun grabbers, “worked” means it got weapons out of the hands of Americans. If it reduced crime, that’s nice but not really the point.

We can quibble about what the study found. But the reason so much attention has been paid to that quibble is because the rest of Kopel’s case is just devastating. As I said earlier, it is not we who have to justify our ownership of any particular firearm. It is the government that must justify restricting it. It just got a lot harder to justify an assault weapons ban; at least at the federal level.

The Weapons Limit

Having thought about Barack Obama’s gun plan, I’m still convinced that most of it is a non-issue: the government doing what it is supposed to do with background checks and enforcing laws. The only issue that is likely to be really contentious is the assault weapons ban (and related bans on high-capacity magazines).

I oppose the ban for a number of reasons, the biggest of which is that I think it will be ineffective. There is little evidence that the previous ban or state-level bans accomplished much: crime fell before they were passed and continued to fall after they went. Criminals continued to acquire not just assault weapons but fully automatic weapons.

But I’ve also been thinking about a quote from P.J. O’Rourke Parliament of Whores. In talking about the crack epidemic, he spoke to a doctor on the front lines about what he’d do if were the drug czar. The doctor said he would make a big splash about something unrelated like assault weapons and wait for the problem to burn itself out. O’Rourke noted that this was exactly what William Bennett subsequently did.

Assault weapon bans — indeed gun controls in general — are and always have been a distraction. The real causes of crime — poverty, broken families, educational dysfunction, hell maybe even lead — are far more difficult to address and liberal solutions to these problems have usually proven ineffective. By contrast, assault weapons are easy to address and easy to rally liberals around. They sound sensible to people who don’t like guns in the first place. They make politicians feel like they’re “doing something” even when they’re not.

I also think the assault weapons ban is really a culture war issue in disguise. I recently flew out of Pittsburgh and sat next to a college student from Alabama who talked about guns and how much he liked his AK. We’ve had plenty of discussions in the comments about guns. It’s clear that many of the readers of this blog are comfortable with guns and are even enthusiasts. But that are others who are uncomfortable around guns of any type. And when you look at that way, it’s no different than someone trying to ban porn or whatever because they don’t like it. It’s cultural chauvinism masquerading as common sense.

Liberals often say that no one “needs” an AK-47. That’s irrelevant and I think the attempts of people to justify these weapons under hunting, sport or revolutionary grounds are misguided. Owning guns is a right; it is the government that must justify its restrictions, not we who must justify our ownership. There isn’t a “need” for trashy music. There isn’t a “need” for risque television shows. There isn’t a “need” for Justin Bieber. But we allow these things because we believe in free speech. Gun owners do not need to justify a “need” so that their benevolent government can grudingly let them bear arms.

As is always the case with cultural issues, I think these is best resolved at the state level. If Californians are uncomfortable with assault weapons, let them ban them. If Alabamans are happy with assault weapons, let them keep them. It’s ridiculous to try to impose a national standard of what guns we are and are not comfortable with.

But doesn’t an assault weapons ban violate the Second Amendment? I don’t think so. The American people have long recognized that the Second Amendment does not give an unlimited right to weapons. Machine guns are banned, explosives are banned, nuclear weapons are banned. SCOTUS has upheld this. The difference between tyranny in freedom is much larger than the difference between an AK-47 and a hunting rifle.

Moreover, if we’re worried about tyranny, I would say the Second Amendment is only one of our concerns. Conor Friersdorf made this point some time ago:

I think law-abiding Americans should always be allowed to own guns.

But if you’re a conservative gun owner who worries that gun control today could make tyranny easier to impose tomorrow, and you support warrantless spying, indefinite detention, and secret drone strikes on Americans accused of terrorism, what explains your seeming schizophrenia?

Think of it this way.

If you were a malign leader intent on imposing tyranny, what would you find more useful, banning high-capacity magazines… or a vast archive of the bank records, phone calls, texts and emails of millions of citizens that you could access in secret? Would you, as a malign leader, feel more empowered by a background check requirement on gun purchases… or the ability to legally kill anyone in secret on your say so alone? The powers the Republican Party has given to the presidency since 9/11 would obviously enable far more grave abuses in the hands of a would be tyrant than any gun control legislation with even a miniscule chance of passing Congress. So why are so many liberty-invoking 2nd Amendment absolutists reliable Republican voters, as if the GOP’s stance on that issue somehow makes up for its shortcomings? And why do they so seldom speak up about threats to the Bill of Rights that don’t involve guns?

I am very happy that people are passionate about the Second Amendment and eager to defend gun liberty. I just wish they brought that same passion to other infringements on our First, Fourth, Five and Sixth Amendment rights. Because if we pay attention to those, we will never need a “Second Amendment Solution”.

Ah, those dreaded words. It’s become fashionable on the Left lately to mock the idea of rebellion. They’ve been dismissive of the Second Amendment because, they argue, a revolution against a tyrannical government would be impossible given that the government has tanks and nukes. That sounds clever and it certainly is snide.

It’s also absurd. Our own military — the one with the tanks and nukes — has had a devil of a time with a bunch of guys with small arms and improvised explosives. I know the Left likes to pretend our wars ceased to exist once Obama was elected, but the shattered bodies and souls coming back speak otherwise.

Sheer numbers tells us that a revolution is possible, tanks be damned. There are 1.4 million active duty members of our military. Assuming they all turned on us, they would still be outnumbered by the legal gun owners of Kentucky. Every hunting season, my state of Pennsylvania fields one of the largest standings armies in the world to take out a bunch of deer (and with remarkably few accidents, I might add). The idea that the Second Amendment isn’t a bulwark against tyranny is absurd.

I don’t believe that our government will ever become truly tyrannical. I don’t think that a “Second Amendment Solution” will ever be necessary. At the same time, however, I don’t think we should be gambling our future on my optimism.

Obama Moves On Guns

Obama is announcing his new gun policies right now. I’ll post as I get updates. There are apparently 23 executive orders. I’ve looked over them quickly and I don’t really see anything terribly objectionable. Most of it is strengthening exiting law and the background check system. Here they are, with my commentary. None would have prevented Sandy Hook. But if you’re looking to reduce gun violence overall, they do address that.

1. “Issue a presidential memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.”

2. “Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.”

3. “Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.”

All three of these are reasonable ways of improving the background check system and are orders to federal agencies not requiring new laws.

4. “Direct the attorney general to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.”

As long as any new proposed categories go through Congress, this is fine.

5. “Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.”

Again, as long as we get to see the rule before its implemented. We have, for very good reasons, grandfathered people in on background checks. We don’t want to set a precedent of seizing guns to do a retroactive check.

6. “Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.”

7. “Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.”

8. “Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).”

9. “Issue a presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.”

All of these are programs within the Justice Department. I would like to see some commentary on the legality of gun traces.

10. “Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.”

11. “Nominate an ATF director.”

We don’t have an ATF director? Seems we should, no?

12. “Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.”

I suspect this will be a waste of money, but it seems within the powers of the DOJ providing they have Congressionally-approved funds for this sort of thing.

13. “Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.”

This is more of a goal than an actual policy.

14. “Issue a presidential memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.”

This may be controversial. Congress has specifically prohibited the CDC from engaging in anti-gun advocacy which has been interpreted to ban all research. Given the Nanny Staters tendency to make loud noises with bogus research (the claim that obesity killed 400k people a year, claims on second-hand smoke), they are right to be suspicious of this. I do think we should clarify what the CDC is and is not allowed to do on this subject.

15. “Direct the attorney general to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to develop innovative technologies.”

16. “Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.”

17. “Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.”

Words words words. No problem with words. I’m not sure if the ACA does or does not prohibit doctors from asking about guns, so that might be an issue. I believe several states, including Florida, have banned doctors from asking about guns.

18. “Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.”

19. “Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.”

I’m not sure what this means but it sounds like a waste of money. These events are very rare and any preparation for a once in a thousand year event is likely a waste.

20. “Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.”


21. “Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.”

22. “Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.”

Finalizing ACA regulations would probably be a good idea anyway, no?

23. “Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.”

Ooh, a dialogue! Dialogues solve so many problems.

The executive orders cross me as a non-issue. Almost all of them relate to clarify or writing regulations and soap-box stuff. The only substantive objections might be lodged at 14 (the CDC) and 16 (ACA). I don’t think any of this will help but I don’t think it will hurt. And it’s certainly not the tyrannical gun grab everyone was clamoring about.

The real substances is what he has asked Congress to do. It is, again, largely expected: universal background checks, assault weapons ban, magazine limits and tougher penalties for illegal sales. I suspect, apart from the penalties, most of that is DOA in Congress. But if we could create a system that would allow easy cheap universal background checks, I would be in favor of that. It would not have prevented Sandy Hook. But it might make a dent in the broader issue of gun violence.

Really, this is a non-event. Almost everything was as expected. And it’s largely going nowhere.

Automatic Idiocy

Not to be disuaded by crime rates that are as low as we had in the 1960’s, the gun grabbers are once again trying to grab guns in the wake of a tragedy. We’ve pawed this ground plenty, but there is something I want to get off my chest. Here you can read an idiotic editorial by famous hypocrite and all-round power-monger Elliot Spitzer calling for a ban on “semi-automatic” weapons. It includes a photo of those feared semi-automatic weapons that, to my relatively untrained eye, seems to include several automatics, semi-automatics and what looks like a pump action. But, you know, they look bad so we can call them semi-automatic, which is a favorite scare term of the anti-gun zealots. In fact, “scary looks” are often the deciding factor. The assault weapons ban famously went after weapons that looked like automatic assault rifles but weren’t.

This confusion over the exact nomenclature of weapons seems to be common in gun control debates. A semi-automatic requires you to pull the trigger with each shot. It’s a fast action, but it’s not ridiculously so. Automatic, where you pull the trigger and the gun keeps firing until the magazine is empty, is what these dipshits are usually thinking of. And while semi-automatic includes scary weapons like the TEC-9 (which was mostly scary because it was easy to convert to fully automatic) it also includes just about every gun issued to federal and local law enforcement. In fact, 80% of the weapons made in the US are semi-automatic. You ban semi-automatics and people are defending themselves with revolvers and pump actions. Hell, if Spitzer had his way, we’d probably be down to muzzle loaders, if that. I’m sure that sounds fine to someone like Spitzer, who is rich and spent large parts of his life with bodyguards who had semi-automatic weapons. But many of us don’t fancy fumbling with a revolver hammer if our life is in danger.

(The main point of Spitzer’s op-ed is to suggest Obama and Bloomberg force the gun-makers to stop selling semi-automatic weapons by refusing to do business with them until they comply. Apart from the power-grab aspects of this, there’s a problem: it wouldn’t work. The private firearms industry is way too big for the gun-makers to ignore.)

More on the ATF scandal

Seems we have had some congressional hearings going on now on the ATF’s botched gun running scandal, and people are talking. And some of the things they are pointing out make one wonder what really was behind this supposed operation. Things like Agent Dodson’s comment that:

“We were mandated to let these guns go,” Dodson said. The program began in 2009 and abruptly ended shortly after Terry’s death Dec. 15. The weapon used to kill Terry has not been identified.

Make it clear that the ATF knew that they couldn’t track these weapons once they crossed the border – leaving the legitimacy of the claim this was a sting operation highly in doubt. And one has to wonder if they called the program quits, very soon after the death of agent Terry, because they realized this was going to come back to them eventually. But the revelation that to me is the most damning to the ATF and the other bureaucrats up the chain of command trying to defend this thing or deflect blame from themselves, is the following quote by Dodson:

Prior to joining the ATF in Phoenix, Dodson told the panel that he had “never been involved in or even heard of an operation in which law enforcement officers let guns walk.” “I cannot begin to think of how the risk of letting guns fall into the hands of known criminals could possibly advance any legitimate law enforcement interest.”

Precisely! The negative publicity if something like this happened to go south should have been enough to dissuade any career bureaucrat. And yet, they still pushed it on. One is left wondering why, when it is so obvious that once the weapons were in Mexico they couldn’t be gotten at anymore, did they allow something as unprecedented as this to go on? The defense that they were tracking the weapons to make arrests clearly doesn’t pass muster, in light of revelations like this:

“What we have here is a colossal failure of leadership,” said ATF agent Pete Forcelli, a supervisor in the Phoenix office. “We weren’t giving guns to people for killing bear, we were giving guns to people to kill other humans. This was a catastrophic disaster.”

There is no doubt that the ATF KNEW that these weapons would end up killing people in Mexico. The question then begs to be asked: what benefit would that provide anyone? How would increasing the casualties in the ongoing war in Mexico serve any purpose, and what could that purpose be?

Well that perspective and purpose becomes clear in light of that campaign of falsehoods that lay blame on the violence in Mexico to easy access of guns in the USattempt to re-institute an assault weapons ban by the DOJ.

At a minimum the DOJ was pursuing its attempt to reinstitute an assault weapons ban in parallel with an ATF operation that armed drug gangs in Mexico and helped escalate the number of deaths while laying blame at the feet of the US. I suspect there was quite a bit more to this story, and that none of it will work itself out well for the people involved.