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What the NRA wants the NRA gets.
September 8, 2004 10:02 PM   Subscribe

What the NRA wants the NRA gets. The Assault Weapons Ban ends Monday. In an election season where first responders have become an issue it seems odd that both parties are ignoring pleas like these, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton: "Nobody has an inalienable right to run around with a machine gun. I'm sorry, that's insanity!" Also, check out this fun and informative "banned or legal" page explaining the 1994 ban. Ban FAQ here.
posted by skallas (62 comments total)

 
Democrats might try next year to renew it. Bush claims he's for it, but isn't doing anything to help it.
posted by skallas at 10:14 PM on September 8, 2004


Both presidential candidates are cowards for not taking a stand on this issue one way or another.
Kerry hoisted a rifle at a campaign event the other day and has nothing to say about this, so I'm sure we can expect more of the same.
And Bush will do as he is told.
posted by 2sheets at 10:24 PM on September 8, 2004


Five links, and a few cherry-picked stats on "reduced gun traces" are the best that the nanny-statists can do?

If William Bratton had been a Korean store owner in 1992, he would be singing a different tune.
If he were still living, of course
posted by Kwantsar at 10:37 PM on September 8, 2004


Ah, there's the inflated sense of self-esteem!
posted by homunculus at 10:53 PM on September 8, 2004


Korean store owners need assault rifles? Why stop there? Hell, how about grenade launchers? I hear flamethrowers or even Claymores work well in cramped stores.

Gee. All America needs is more guns. Easy access to firearms by gun nuts certainly makes us all safer:

In 2000, there were 28,663 firearm deaths in the United States, including 16,586 (58%) suicides, 11,071 (39%) homicides (out of which a grand, whopping total of 270 deaths were due to legal intervention), and 1,006 (4%) undetermined/ unintentional firearm deaths. [Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2002) National Vital Statistics Report Volume 50, No. 16, September 16, 2002, p. 69. ]

In 1999, there were...wait for it....wait for it....a grand total of 154 justifiable homicides by private citizens in the United States. [Source: Federal Bureau of Investigation (2000) Crime in the United States, 1999].

The overall rate of firearms death in the U.S. is EIGHT times higher than the firearms death rate of 25 other high-income countries... combined. [Source: EG Krug, KE Powell, et al, "Firearm-related deaths in the United States and 35 other high- and upper-middle-income countries," International Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 27, 1998.]

For those who are murdered with firearms, the FBI says that the majority of firearm homicide victims die not from criminal activity, but because of arguments between people who know each other. Think how much more effective that will all be when friends and lovers, no doubt all members of well-regulated militia, can train full rock 'n roll assault rifles upon each other.

Oh joy.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 10:55 PM on September 8, 2004


Can I have one of these?
posted by homunculus at 10:59 PM on September 8, 2004


If William Bratton had been a Korean store owner in 1992, he would be singing a different tune.

For a good chunk of 1991/1992, I lived in such choice areas of LA as Huntington Park, Lynwood, and Carson. One of my landlords offered to sell me what looked like a genuine uzi, and being that he was a middle-aged white guy, I no longer had any trouble believing that if he had one, the real thugs could engage in a real arms race, and maybe it'd be a good idea if the police could at least try and minimize the number of well-armed thugs.

I realize that no matter what law you pass, some of the thugs are going to have these things anyway, but either you're dealing with unprepared looters (in which case a semi-automatic shotgun should do you just fine), or you're dealing with the kind of thugs who are well-prepared for your arms race, and my impression was that if you've got the later, everybody's already lost by the time they engage.

I can't see any reason for most citizens to have fully automatic weapons unless there's a government that needs subduing.
posted by weston at 11:20 PM on September 8, 2004


You realize that the assault weapons ban has nothing to do with fully automatic weapons, right?
posted by jaek at 11:40 PM on September 8, 2004


Heh. All I know is, London disarmed their population in mid 90's, and by the time I showed up there, the
criminals had figured it out.

posted by effugas at 12:14 AM on September 9, 2004


effugas, that has what to do with assault weapons?
posted by Space Coyote at 12:52 AM on September 9, 2004


Of the stats that f_and_m stated, how many of those crimes were comitted with legally owned assault weapons and how many with small handguns?

Cos I bet that the tally for handguns is greater than that of asssault weapons by at least two orders of magnitude.
posted by PenDevil at 1:01 AM on September 9, 2004


You realize that the assault weapons ban has nothing to do with fully automatic weapons, right?

Not before you mentioned it, no.

Anyone want to lay it out?
posted by weston at 1:33 AM on September 9, 2004


interesting, f&m: the "unintentional firearm deaths" is much lower, at 4%, than I have usually heard asserted. There are two major arguments for gun bans that I'm familiar with: one is, to keep guns out of the hands of Bad Guys(tm); the other is, that accidental gun deaths are common enough that guns are a general hazard. Sounds like the second argument isn't very strong.

On preview:

PenDevil: of the three categories of "assault by firearm discharge" that the CDC lists, "handgun" (X93) accounts for 10% of the deaths, "rifle, shotgun and larger" (X94) accounts for 6.4%, and "other or unspecified" accounts for the remaining 83.7%. Not too helpful for answering your question, unfortunately. Among the three categories, that's 10,801 deaths in 2000, out of 16,765 deaths that appear to be due to assault of any kind. (I'm probably not manipulating these categories correctly: give it a try yourself here). #2 on the list is "sharp objects".

weston: I'll let someone else provide full details, but as I understand it "assault weapons" is a category invented in order to ban it. It only loosely corresponds to any functional descriptions like "automatic" or "rifle".
posted by hattifattener at 1:47 AM on September 9, 2004


Anyone want to lay it out? by weston

As a rule i avoided these kind of posts, but tonight i'm game so here we go: assault weapons as defined by the ban are described as having certain features such as a bayonet lug, a pistol grip or a flash hider. Anyone who is familiar with firearm technology will happily tell you that they are purely cosmetic issues. Meaning that the things that the ban declared illegal are based on nothing more than what the firearm 'looks' like. A class three or 'automatic weapon' is one that by depressing the trigger will fire more than one round. (meaning that like when you see the action hero of your favorite flick grab a weapon and say "ho ho ho now it have a machine gun too" what he is talking about is a class 3 weapon and not anything that this piece of legislation has anything to do with.)

basically what i'm saying is that ban prohibited guns that looked mean, and did nothing to prevent guns that actually were mean... and actually harmed people.

To further demonstrate how totally useless this law was/is, while it was in effect, i bought an AR-15. For the uninitiated this is a non automatic m-16. (and for you gun snobs, i mean that i is a legal semi automatic that requires a pull of the trigger for each shot :p) this gun ban did nothing to prevent me from buying a very lethal weapon that if i chose could have hurt many people. What it did do is keep me from mounting a bayonet on it and stabbing people. Because the when you have a semi automatic 5.56 mm gas operated assault rifle, the first thing you think of when encountering someone you want to stop is using the silly little knife on the end of the barrel. Right?

And don't evn get me started on the pointlessness of the '10 round mag' legislation "gee, i couldn't hit that guy with ten rounds, fortunately my gun holds 12" it is ridiculous.

As a gun owner i am happy to support gun laws that make sense. Waiting periods, and background checks have proven to be successful deterrents to violent crime and that can not be anything other than a good thing, but pointless prohibitions do nothing other than inhibit people from enjoying the rights that are afforded to us by law.

And i just know that someone out there is saying that if the Founding Fathers were aware that one day weapons like this would exist they would have never have written the second amendment, i would strongly encourage that person to actually read the words of our founding fathers.

The fact of the matter is that Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin were both gun geeks and probably would have demanded that every citizen demand the right to own the coolest WMD that they could get their hands on. Not to protect themselves from an oppressive government, though that was a serious concern at the time, but because both of them really liked guns.
posted by quin at 3:06 AM on September 9, 2004


The assault weapon ban that sunsets on Monday has absolutely nothing to do with fully automatic weapons or machineguns. Machineguns are restricted by the National Firearms Act of 1934. To purchase a machinegun a citizen must:

1. Pass a FBI background check (not the Instant Background Check; but a full 6-month or longer investigation)
2. Find a transferable weapon produced prior to 1986
3. Pay a transfer tax of $200 per NFA item
4. Get State approval
5. Get approval of Local law enforcement
6. Register the weapon
7. Get ATF Approval

Since 1934, only one legally owned machine gun has ever been used in crime, and that was a murder committed by a law enforcement officer. On September 15th, 1988, a 13-year veteran of the Dayton, Ohio police department, Patrolman Roger Waller, then 32, used his fully automatic MAC-11 .380 caliber submachine gun to kill a police informant, 52-year-old Lawrence Hileman. Patrolman Waller pleaded guilty in 1990, and he and an accomplice were sentenced to 18 years in prison.

According to the 1994 Ban an assault weapon is a firearm with a detachable magazine with more than one of the following features.

Rifles:
Folding/telescoping stock
Protruding pistol grip
Bayonet mount
Threaded muzzle or flash suppressor
Grenade launcher (Note - this does not include grenades they qualify as Destructive Devices and are covered under the 1934 National Firearms Act.)

Pistols:
Magazine outside grip
Threaded muzzle
Barrel shroud
Unloaded weight of 50 ounces or more
Semi-automatic version of a fully automatic weapon

Shotguns:
Folding/telescoping stock
Protruding pistol grip
Detachable magazine capacity
Fixed magazine capacity greater than 5 rounds

Most of these features are cosmetic and have no effect on how deadly a firearm is.
posted by Tenuki at 3:23 AM on September 9, 2004


As a non-citizen (and lazy bugger this morning) could anyone please tell me the point of the 2nd Amendment - was it to provide for self defence or to allow "the people" to have the capability to overthrow the state if it became tyrannical?
posted by longbaugh at 3:33 AM on September 9, 2004


I can see how a "sportsman's association" (it really was at one time!) (also better known as the lobbying arm of the firearm manufacturers) would want me to be able to purchase a nice rifle with which to kill fluffy little bunnies and Bambi.

So just shut up!

Is this what PP was talking about when he said "heads would explode?"
posted by nofundy at 5:00 AM on September 9, 2004


longbaugh, if there was a simple and widely-accepted answer to your question, the whole debate about gun control in the US wouldn't exist. As I understand it, there are two main schools of thought on the Second Amendment.

One side emphasises the "well-regulated militia" portion, which they say means that the amendment ensures that the people can "bear arms" through the organized militias of the individual states, which today are organized as the National Guard.

The other side believes that people have these rights individually, and can "keep and bear arms" that would be carried by a soldier without needing the approval of the state. (I'm probably oversimplifying both points of view here, but I think this is generally the gist of it.)
posted by Zonker at 5:01 AM on September 9, 2004


I'd just like to add that the .50 cal rifle is still perfectly legal, yet it can punch a hole the size of a watermelon through kevlar at over a mile. Shit, it can take out tanks if you've got the right ammunition.

Some fun video of a .50 cal at a test range. The target was an air-conditioner. More fun videos here. Because it's a manual bolt rifle (one shot at time) it's perfectly legal to own because, well shit, you might run into a bear in the woods and need to take its head off at a few hundred yards distance. Of course, you only need a single bullet to assassinate someone -- which is why I'm surprised this kind of firearm is still legal.

See also this article from Rolling Stone.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:07 PM on September 9, 2004


You'll need guns like those for the revolution.
posted by jon_kill at 1:11 PM on September 9, 2004


I agree that much of what the law bans constitutes looks rather than functions, and is therefore silly. Nevertheless, the law has some value. There is a reason why many police departments favor the law. Features such as collapsible stocks, large clip capacities and semi-automatic functions easily converted to fully automatic are more helpful to a criminal than a sportsman. Some form of legislation to address these issues would be helpful and may even garner bipartisan support. In the meantime, extending the existing law for even a short period would allow debate on a modified version of the law while not opening the floodgates in the meantime.
posted by caddis at 1:24 PM on September 9, 2004


If anything, they need to ban handguns. But I'm not sorry to see this poorly thought out compromise law go the way of the passenger pigeon.
posted by Jart at 1:36 PM on September 9, 2004


Maybe someone who actually owns a gun (or feels this way regardless) could comment on this for me. I don't support banning gun ownership, I understand the desire for people to feel safe and capable of protecting themselves, and as distasteful as I may find hunting, I completely understand that some folks really enjoy it. What I don't understand is this: I have to take a test and obtain a renewable license in order to drive, and I have to register and obtain a license in order to get married, I even have to register to vote. Gun owners have to do these things as well, right? What then, is the opposition to laws that would require all gun owners to be tested and licensed before being allowed to possess a gun? When a driver is found to be without a license, there is a punishment associated with that violation, just as an unlicensed person owning a gun could be punished. I honestly can't figure out a single logical reason that a responsible owner would oppose this, but the NRA seems to think that it's the first step towards total banishment.
posted by trivirgata at 1:49 PM on September 9, 2004


Features such as collapsible stocks, large clip capacities and semi-automatic functions easily converted to fully automatic are more helpful to a criminal than a sportsman.

They are also more helpful to a person defending their house than to a sportsman. It says nothing in the second amendment about people can only buy guns for recreational rather than self defense reasons.

Also, as far as the difference between non banned and banned weapons, let me give an example. The Ruger mini-14 is a semi-auto rifle, chambered for .223, easily converted to fully automatic, folding stocks, large capacity magazies and pretty much any sinister thing you want are readily available and/or easily fabricated.

Banned gun? Nope. Sold at Pretty much every Wal-Mart that has guns & functionally identical to any number of banned guns such as an AR15, ak47 etc.

My point: the ban really did nothing but change the way guns look.

I support disarming criminals. Enforce the laws we have, put fewer noviolent offenders away, and put anyone that has a record and even touches a gun away for a looong time. I'd rather have those guys off the street than a pothead, but what do I know.

Then again, if the behavior I see in traffic is any indication, few Americans seem to have the restraint and discipline needed to be a safe gun owner.

On preview: The opposition to banning is that if the government becomes tyrranical they will have a list of gun owners and be able to come take them. Without registration there is no such list.
posted by jester69 at 1:57 PM on September 9, 2004


quin and Tanuki, thank you both for pointing out the inherant stupidity of the ban as it is written. It doesn't make anybody safer, it simply makes them feel safer. In the current political clime, I'm not surprised at all that that would be enough to justify stupid legislation.

And, to simply drive home the worthlessness of this legislation, all pre-ban weapons are exempt from the requirements inposed, hence a pistol grip shotgun is legal if altered in 1990 ... or if it was altered yesterday, and I claim that it was altered in 1990. I can still legally buy a bayonet for my SKS (I don't need to, it came with one when I got it in 1991), and mount it at will. How would the legal authorities arrest and charge me for such action (if I didn't use the weapon in a crime) and how would they prove that I violated the ban?

There was a lot of outrage here on Mefi when Bush overturned Clinton's executive order for a roadless ban. The fact that it was a heavy-handed and poorly written edict from Clinton seemed to make a difference with some folks here. The "assault weapons" ban is just such a poorly written and unenforcable law. Let it die. Work for something better and more substantial if you want, but bad legislation shouldn't be supported by anybody.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:05 PM on September 9, 2004


trivergata, you answered your own question; and in response to jester69, I could point out that even if the government has a list of gun owners and desires to take those guns away, who are they going to get that's stupid enough to attempt to take them, when they will be offered business end first?
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2004


The reason that the NRA thinks that it's the first step toward total banishment is because a lot of leaders of anti-gun groups have expressly stated that they can't hope to ban guns totally now but will go for little encroachments on the right to bear arms as a first step toward total banishment. It's a legitimate fear on the NRA's part.

Think of it as restrictions on partial-birth abortion or requirements for parental notification. I mean, who could object to that?
posted by jaek at 2:11 PM on September 9, 2004


Collapsible stock - not useful for in-home protection. Use a pistol instead.

High capacity clip - not useful for in-home protection. Perhaps useful in extended gun battles, say with the police.

Semi-auto mechanism easily converted to full-auto - probably useful for in-home protection, but only after the conversion. The converted gun is illegal. The only reason for allowing an easily converted mechanism is to allow the conversion to an illegal weapon. Ban it.

The fact that the law imperfectly captured semi-auto mechanisms is no argument against the concept of banning such a mechanism. A good law would have a better definition and would also ban conversion kits. I am not sorry to see this law go, but I would like to see a better law and would also like to see the current law extended for a short period during which a better law could be debated.
posted by caddis at 2:12 PM on September 9, 2004


Collapsible stock - not useful for in-home protection. Use a pistol instead.
Hmm, one of the most recommended home defense weapons is a shotgun. A pistol is, to me, a very distant second. Having a pistol grip on the shotgun makes it much easier to use in close quarters like a hallway or bedroom.

Also, my point on the easily converted to full auto thing was not that this is a good feature for home defense. It is not. My point was there are plenty of legal guns that have this same feature, so we either have to ban those too, or the law makes no sense. It is kind of like saying green M&M's are legal, and red ones are not.

You seem to know fairly little about guns and their uses. I recommend reading up on it if you wish to have an argument with those that have done some research.

I honestly think if gun control folks would focus on stiffening laws against criminals with guns rather than on laws that impact all gun owners, they might find they have more common ground with gun advocates than one might believe at first blush.
posted by jester69 at 2:31 PM on September 9, 2004


Semi-auto mechanism easily converted to full-auto - probably useful for in-home protection, but only after the conversion. The converted gun is illegal. The only reason for allowing an easily converted mechanism is to allow the conversion to an illegal weapon. Ban it.

Already is banned. Has been since 1982 when the ATF banned “Open Bolt” semi automatic weapons.

There are no provisions in the “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994” that address “Semi-auto mechanism easily converted to full-auto” so I’m not even sure why you brought it up Caddis.

Easily converted is a very subjective term. For some one with machinist skills and knowledge of firearms any semi automatic weapon can be converted to fully automatic. Despite what you see on TV crime dramas you can’t go to a gun show and buy all the parts you need to make a machine gun. There is no purchasable ‘drop in’ kit that will make a gun fully automatic. All conversions either require illegal part(no new law needed) or someone with machinist/metalworking skills to convert a firearm without destroying it.
posted by Tenuki at 2:36 PM on September 9, 2004


I got to inspect a Thompson Machine Gun last year, close up. It's quite a beautiful weapon. These guns are still made - for specialty collectors - only about 10 miles, or so, from where I live. They are a bit large to hide underneath a jacket or sweater - hence not so good for many criminal applications.

I'm not sure that I think assault weapons should be available to the general public though.

Then again, auto crashes kill an awful lot of people.

_____________

I've heard that, in the Pashtun region of Pakistan, folks there are very handy at making their own fully automatic, military grade assault weapons from scratch, in little machine shops - copies of M-16s, AR-17s, Kalashnikovs, Uzis, whatever.

I also recall hearing, as well, that they micro-manufacture much heavier weaponry too - like small artillery pieces, even perhaps antiaircraft guns.

Isn't human ingenuity amazing ?
posted by troutfishing at 2:42 PM on September 9, 2004


Agreeing with Wulfgar here, and wanted to add: what's needed is stricter laws against handguns, and though I hate to add this, PDWs small enough to be easily concealed. Not just stricter regulation of who can own them, but more importantly stricter sentencing for unlicensed ownership of a handgun.

You want to plead the case of the Korean shopowner? That shopowner's two biggest enemies are not assault rifles - whether automatic or just cosmetically enhanced - nor the bullets for them. Hs two biggest enemies are concealability and portability, traits found in handguns and the smaller PDWs like the MP7.

A .50cal rifle ban would be the stupidest gun law possible for the exact same reason - refire rate is terrible, they start in at 25lbs. and up, and at three feet long in the smallest bullpup configurations nobody is going to be surprising a store owner with one. Can you imagine trying to rob a store with one? What would you do? Shoot the store owner and then decide to a) attempt to carry the rifle and get caught easily or b) leave the rifle and its huge pile of forensic information for the cops? A .50cal rifle is the perfect weapon for overthrowing a tyrannical government, and the worst possible weapon with which to commit crime in the dense urban landscape - to ban them would be to run directly against the Founding Fathers' intent.

Secondly - no .50cal rifle, nor even an NTW-20 20mm rifle can take out a modern main battle tank regardless of the ammo used - APCs and other light vehicles, yes, and quite easily in some cases. But the only man-portable weapons that can significantly damage any modern MBT are missle-based.

Finally, some of the best .50cal rifles are crude pieces knocked up by somebody with a few metalworking tools in their basement - a few of the better .50cal sniper rifle manufs. in the US got started that way. The cost to entry for production is very very low, so banning them is kind of a dumb thing to do in either case - they're so simple in function (being manual bolt-action pieces with few exceptions) that any idiot with the right tools can make decent ones quite easily.
posted by Ryvar at 2:47 PM on September 9, 2004


And thanks, troutfishing - that was sort of my point in the last paragraph there, but more generalized - the easier firearms to manufactore have a very low cost to entry in terms of production. Hell, look at the WW2-era British Sten gun. Think that takes a lot of expertise to mass-produce? Not bloody likely.
posted by Ryvar at 2:51 PM on September 9, 2004


What then, is the opposition to laws that would require all gun owners to be tested and licensed before being allowed to possess a gun?

Due to the fact that the right to bear arms is part of the Bill of Rights.

In Virginia, you do have to pass a criminal background check prior to purchasing a firearm. That is prior to every purchase, not just your initial one.

I have taken a firearms safety course and I practice shooting often. The vast majority of gunowners that I know have taken a safety course and practice a lot more often than police officers.


Collapsible stock - not useful for in-home protection. Use a pistol instead.

High capacity clip - not useful for in-home protection.


Actually, shotguns are the recommended home protection firearm, not handguns. A collapsible stock really doesn't make any difference in the use of a firearm.

It's not a clip, it is a magazine. Clips fed magazines, magazines feed firearms, there is a difference. Plus, you can own magazines that were full capacity (not high capacity, as the guns were designed to hold these magazines) that were manufactured prior to 1994 and they are completely legal.

You can also use a magazine that is manufactured for some other gun but, that works in another type that holds more ammunition and it is entirely legal. IE. If you own a Springfield XD9 you can use the magazine for a Springfield XD40. You can load 15 rounds of 9MM into a .40 caliber magazine, and it requires no change in the magazine to work.

According to the BATF that is completely legal.

Also, law enforcement does not have the capacity restriction that citizens do. Why is that? I trust the people I shoot with, more than I do police officers with shooting accuracy. There was a study done (I'm looking for the cite) that showed police officers in a firefight MISS 80% of the time, where citizens with concealed handgun permits missed less than 20% of the time.

Yeah, but the police are the ones we trust with more rounds?

I can't see any reason for most citizens to have fully automatic weapons unless there's a government that needs subduing.


The Clinton Gun Ban has nothing to do with fully automatic weapons but, fully automatic guns are just fun to shoot. The shooting range we go to rents several fully automatic weapons. I have shot an UZI and an MP5. I loved the UZI, my husband liked the MP5.

And, as was stated earlier in the thread, there has been 1 crime committed by someone with a legally owned automatic weapon. It was committed by a police officer.

(No, I don't hate the police, but I do find it amusing that they have more gun rights than the average citizen does.)
posted by SuzySmith at 3:00 PM on September 9, 2004


seems odd that both parties are ignoring pleas like these, Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton: "Nobody has an inalienable right to run around with a machine gun. I'm sorry, that's insanity!"

Too bad Los Angeles Police Chief William Bratton doesn't know what he is talking about.
Except that the assault weapons ban does not ban machine guns. Machine guns have been largely banned for civilian possession (except for about 100,000 that were grandfathered in, and that are almost never used in crimes) since the mid-1980s. By its own terms the assault weapon ban applies to some semiautomatic guns — guns that shoot one round per trigger pull, and that are not materially more lethal than most other guns out there. In fact, here's a link to the statute, and a quote from the start of the key provision:
SEC. 110102. RESTRICTION ON MANUFACTURE, TRANSFER, AND POSSESSION OF CERTAIN SEMIAUTOMATIC ASSAULT WEAPONS.

(a) RESTRICTION- Section 922 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new subsection:

'(v)(1) It shall be unlawful for a person to manufacture, transfer, or possess a semiautomatic assault weapon.'
If you'd like, go to the site and count the number of times the Act uses the word semiautomatic.
More here & here.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:28 PM on September 9, 2004


One thing I'd like to add to general discussion is this: All weapons are created with an inherant intent. Knives are arguably the most useful tool created by human kind, but offer a use as a defense or threat weapon in equal measure. Rifles, as good as they are for killing talking monkeys, are also inherantly good at killing food safely from a distance. Hand guns are absolutely for personal defense, a device solely for killing a threat. That any of these can be used for criminal activity is incidental. I'm certain that many of you encountered the story of the guy who robbed a bank with a rusty pitchfork. But handguns, especially, are purposed for the express use of defending the human form against a threat, or offering a threat to another human. That is a valid use of a weapon, and as such, it argues against a blanket ban against hand guns. To claim that a preventative against a threat is itself a threat is a tautology, a danger is a danger, and you can't ban danger. Banning handguns, whose legal purpose is defense, is banning defense itself. That hardly seems rational to me.

I fish at high mountain lakes in Grizzly country. My choices for defense are limited, should I be attacked by a bear. I can carry a shotgun with slugs (will put a fist sized hole through a Buick, but it's unwieldy, heavy and slow), a rifle (also unwieldy, heavy and slow, and probably underpowered for the purpose), or a large calibre handgun (44 mag, fast, powerful, and easy to use). Ban the handgun, and you've taken away my ability to efficiently defend my person. The threat still exists. You haven't banned the danger to me, you've banned the idea that the danger (the purpose for the weapon) exists, in spite of the obvious fact that it does.

trivergata had a fairly good point. If the danger of a handgun comes not from its inherant use, but rather from the fact that its use is above control, then enforce the control. I, speaking only for myself, wouldn't have any problem licensing myself as a firearm user. I have a reason to use them, as I have a reason to use a car. My use of firearms presents a substantial challenge to public resources, just as my use of a car does. If I use either improperly, I should have to bare the consequences of that action. This is not at all out of line with publically accepted responsibility. What is out of line, is legislating that I can't use a tool because it presents the idea of a danger. Driving is inherantly dangerous. I must be licensed to do it. Legislating that I can't drive because a present danger is ... dangerous ... well that's just stupid.
posted by Wulfgar! at 3:39 PM on September 9, 2004


I understand Al Qaeda is very much in favor of free individual possession of nucular weapons. they're certainly not nanny-statists, those husky sonsofbitches, are they?

Not to mention, come to think of it, the various worldwide enemies of America must be very much in favor of unregulated gun possession for all Americans: after all, the more Americans get free access to all kinds of guns, the more efficiently they manage to kill each other. give Americans enough (cheap) guns, and in the future terrorists won't even need to have to learn to fly 747's and stuff. they'll just have to sit back and watch
posted by matteo at 4:00 PM on September 9, 2004


Wulfgar, what something is designed to do is not as important as what it actually does. Perhaps handguns are designed only to defend, but they are more often used in attacks, or else they are accidentally used to shoot their operators. So, they are a faulty product and it is irresponsible to ignore the danger their bad design poses.

If they came out with a gun that could only be used to defend the innocent, I would insist that everyone owned one.
posted by Hildago at 4:04 PM on September 9, 2004


So, they are a faulty product and it is irresponsible to ignore the danger their bad design poses.

The same can be said of automobiles. Massive amounts of people are killed every year in car accidents. Or bathtubs, people die every year from slipping in the tub.

Is it also irresponsible to ignore that? Should cars and bathtubs be banned?

I'm all for useful gun laws. Ones that actually do something to punish those who commit crimes with firearms, not for laws that ban guns based on cosmetics.
posted by SuzySmith at 4:18 PM on September 9, 2004


Hildago, I understand and am very sympathetic to your argument, which is why I would comply with firearm user registration. I feel it necessary, though, to point out that the stupidity or criminality of the various users is not a sufficient reason for banning the tool.

Norm Abram begins every show by telling people to read their tool's instruction manual thoroughly. I'd like to see the statistic of how many people are injured every year by power tools/per population as opposed to those who are injured by firearm accidents/per population. The point being that the product isn't faulty if the user doesn't understand its use.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:24 PM on September 9, 2004


And I would also like to point out that one statistic that isn't tracked is the number of times per year that a hand gun does its job without having to be fired, or is fired in threat and never results in injury. You'll have to forgive my Montana attitude here, but by anecdote, I know of many cases where a hand gun alleviated a potentially violent encounter in which the hand gun was never fired, or simply fired in the air.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:29 PM on September 9, 2004


Upon re-reading the thread, I feel strangely that I would be grossly hypocritical if I didn't point out to matteo that your argument is not only an exaggerated strawman, its also a sarcastically posited false dilemma.
posted by Wulfgar! at 5:47 PM on September 9, 2004


I find it funny how the folks from rural areas are so concerned with having a gun for protection in their home when in fact they would almost never need one. People in urban areas, who might actually need a gun for protection in their home, are much more likely to be in favor of gun control. I wonder why that is?

By the way, a dog is much better security than a gun for keeping you safe in your home. I would rather have the bad guys scared off before entering than have to shoot it out with them in the house.
posted by caddis at 5:58 PM on September 9, 2004


I find it funny how the folks from rural areas are so concerned with having a gun for protection in their home when in fact they would almost never need one. People in urban areas, who might actually need a gun for protection in their home, are much more likely to be in favor of gun control. I wonder why that is?

Statistical support, please?

By the way, a dog is much better security than a gun for keeping you safe in your home.

'Couldn't agree more. Your point being?
posted by Wulfgar! at 6:06 PM on September 9, 2004


I fish at high mountain lakes in Grizzly country. My choices for defense are limited, should I be attacked by a bear. ... Ban the handgun, and you've taken away my ability to efficiently defend my person. The threat still exists.

Bull. Shit.

If you are attacked by a Grizzly, no handgun is going to do you any good whatsoever. Read Bear Attacks by Stephen Herraro, the definitive text on the causes, consequences, and avoidance of bear attacks. You will learn a few things in reading this book: (1) Bear attacks are extremely rare and (2) Guns of all types are almost always absolutely useless as a defense.

I've ten years of month-long remote backpacking experience. In that time my wife and I have directly encountered several bears, had bears sniffing 'round the tent, and have had our food cache discovered (but not molested: we cache correctly) by bears.

In that ten years, we have been attacked: never.

Why so? Because we, perhaps unlike you, have diligently always done everything necessary to ensure that bears are aware of our presence, will not have access to our food, and will not be tempted to treat us as prey.

And that, my friend, is infinitely more protection than a handgun. Especially where grizzlies are concerned.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:26 PM on September 9, 2004


A .50cal rifle is the perfect weapon for overthrowing a tyrannical government, and the worst possible weapon with which to commit crime in the dense urban landscape

Please. A .50 caliber rifle the perfect weapon for assassinating any political figure, whether they are tyrannical or not. With (legally available) armor-piercing and armor-piercing incendiary ammo, it can punch through a bulletproof car like swiss cheese. With the proper scope, you have a kill distance of over a mile. Not to mention the lethality of a single well-placed shot to helicopters. From the link:
"The accuracy of the Model 82A1 makes possible the placement of the shot in the most vulnerable area of the target. The compressor sections of jet engines or the transmissions of helicopters are likely targets for the weapon, making it capable of destroying multi-million dollar aircraft with a single hit delivered to a vital area."
-- Barrett Firearms Manufacturing Inc. brochure
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:04 PM on September 9, 2004


Crikey! Who the hell is Barrett marketing to? And please tell me the US government isn't letting them sell outside the USA, 'cause it'll be US helicopters that end up taking the bullet.

Blows me away, actually, that the US allows any arms trading. Why would you put your own soldiers at risk of being killed by US-manufactured weapons?! Very foolish, that.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:56 PM on September 9, 2004


fff, I am very happy for you, and proud of you, that you take what precautions you deem appropriate. Strangely though, none of those precautions are appropriate defense when hiking through the hills with a creel full of fresh smelly trout. I'm also acutely aware that your anecdotal evidence amounts to a big pile of jack-shit in the long history of Grizzly attacks in North America. And I'm sure it won't bother you much if I point out the fact that you obviously undercut your own argument with this statement:

Guns of all types are almost always absolutely useless as a defense.

The "almost" being underscored by the Lewis and Clark party's frequent violent run ins with Grizzly bears, as well as an anecdote of my own. (A good friend's brother is alive today because he was charged, knocked over and his arm ripped up, when he finally decided to fire his .357mag, wounding and driving away the Grizzly sow that would have had him for breakfast. Almost always, indeed ...)

And finally, I will point out that you have avoided the argument I made by offering useless personal tales of good outdoorsmanship. The point isn't that I will decrease my odds of being bear food through other action, but that you are being very very silly in trying to adjucate what actions I can and cannot take to defend myself given the tools at hand that were designed for that very purpose. Read what I wrote again, and I hope that you will understand: the point is that making guns go away will not make the threats you fear so desperately go away. You'll feel better for no reason, and that's not a risk with my life that I'm willing to concede. Sorry.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:56 PM on September 9, 2004


Blows me away, actually, that the US allows any arms trading. Why would you put your own soldiers at risk of being killed by US-manufactured weapons?! Very foolish, that.

Hell, the US has tighter controls on software sales than on small arms sales. Foolish? No shit. But very very profitable.

However, I have to ask, what does any of that have to do with the US assault weapons ban? (You know, the subject of the the thread???)
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:04 PM on September 9, 2004


I understand Al Qaeda is very much in favor of..

Al Qaeda as the new Godwin?

the US has tighter controls on software sales than on small arms sales.

It's always occured to me that more efficient enforcement of the existing laws would be a greater investment in manpower and resources than piling on additional 'quick fix' legislation to an already burdened system. However, as mentioned previously, this ban has its roots in managing appearance versus addressing the technical issues.
posted by jazzkat11 at 9:40 PM on September 9, 2004


SuzySmith:

What then, is the opposition to laws that would require all gun owners to be tested and licensed before being allowed to possess a gun?

Due to the fact that the right to bear arms is part of the Bill of Rights.


This response is one that I hear often and one that never seems to quite answer the question. You will find no greater lover of the Constitution than myself, but I can't go along with the assertion that the presence and/or wording of the 2nd amendment precludes any attempts to license or otherwise register gun owners. The protection is clear: "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Do you interpret this to mean that any person is entitled to keep and bear any weapon that they wish for any reason they wish?

We accept a reasonable and logical interpretation of the Constitution as a basic tenet of our political system - there's a good reason that the document is so non-specific about so many of the most important ideas. Until the states are asked to ratify an amendment repealing the 2nd, responsible efforts to test and license owners of deadly weapons appear to me to pose no threat to your right to own a gun.
posted by trivirgata at 10:01 PM on September 9, 2004


you are being very very silly in trying to adjucate what actions I can and cannot take to defend myself

Do not put words in my mouth.

I don't care whether you haul a big-ass gun into the words or not. You just go right ahead: no sweat off my balls.

I merely take issue with your significantly uninformed statements about the likelihood of your being attacked by a bear, and the protective capability of your gun in the case of a bear attack. Bear attacks are exceedingly rare, especially in light of the number of people that are in the bush; and weapons have proven mainly ineffective as a means of stopping a grizzly attack. These are facts presented comprehensively in the book I refer you to.

Do what you will with your gun. Just don't use hyperbole about grizzly bears as an rational: it's disingenuous and unnecessary.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:49 PM on September 9, 2004


The protection is clear: "the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed." Do you interpret this to mean that any person is entitled to keep and bear any weapon that they wish for any reason they wish?



I accept that it is a right to be able to keep and bear any projectile arm for any legal reason. If there were suddenly laws in which you had to be licensed to purchase a firearm that would be an infringement upon the rights of citizens to own them.

We accept a reasonable and logical interpretation of the Constitution as a basic tenet of our political system - there's a good reason that the document is so non-specific about so many of the most important ideas. Until the states are asked to ratify an amendment repealing the 2nd, responsible efforts to test and license owners of deadly weapons appear to me to pose no threat to your right to own a gun

Not true. If people suddenly had to be licensed it is an infringement. What of those who do poor at testing? Or some of the men in rural areas who are hunters, who may only have an elementary education at best?

Should their rights to own a firearm be taken away because they are illiterate?
posted by SuzySmith at 11:53 PM on September 9, 2004


Just don't use hyperbole about grizzly bears as an rational: it's disingenuous and unnecessary.

I didn't. I used it as example to illustrate the point that you appear to have missed completely because you wish to show your vast Grizzly survival skills and shill for some guy's book. I'm sorry that my example got your panties in a bunch.

Not true. If people suddenly had to be licensed it is an infringement. What of those who do poor at testing?

If they do poorly at testing that determines whether they can safely operate a firearm, than its a pretty damn good bet that they can't or won't operate a firearm safely. The right to keep and bear arms does not give you the right to use said in an unsafe manner.


Or some of the men in rural areas who are hunters, who may only have an elementary education at best?

That's a terribly poor counter example. Proving that one can safely use a weapon, and licensing them to do so, has nothing to do with whether or not they can divide fractions. You can get a freakin' driver's license with an elementary education, can't you?
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:07 AM on September 10, 2004


I understand your argument SuzySmith, but I really doubt that the NRA and others who oppose licensing do so in the name of poor testers and the illiterate.

In my opinion, there are certain activities that, for the well being of society as a whole, require a slightly higher level of responsibility from those wanting to participate in them, and owning a firearm is one of those things. In this case, a regulation may be infringement in the literal sense, but still well within the spirit of the law.

We guarantee that no citizen will be deprived of life, liberty, or property. That we prevent anyone with a scalpel and a dream from performing as a doctor without first being tested and licensed does not infringe on their rights as a citizen. We understand that those incapable of or unwilling to meet the standards set by our society for the practice of medicine should not practice medicine. In this case, public safety trumps the unchecked freedom of the individual.

Thanks for your feedback Suzy... this is often such a touchy subject that no real exchange seems possible. I'm glad that I've been able to get a bit of the other side's view minus the standard talking points and insults.
posted by trivirgata at 8:19 AM on September 10, 2004


"Norm Abram begins every show by telling people to read their tool's instruction manual thoroughly. " -Wulfgar

Norm Abram: "Before we begin hunting, let's take a minute to understand gun safety. Be sure to read, understand and follow the set of instructions that come with your fully automatic submachine gun before laying waste to entire herds of deer. Doing so can greatly decrease the danger (to you), and remember, there is no more important safety tip than to wear these: safety glasses. Because a kevlar vest and a 3-inch plate of iron isn't going to jack shit anyway."
posted by hoborg at 8:43 AM on September 10, 2004


Yes let's ban certain guns because they look more dangerous.
posted by jeblis at 9:04 AM on September 10, 2004


What then, is the opposition to laws that would require all gun owners to be tested and licensed before being allowed to possess a gun?

Because it invariably leads to confiscation. Canada has been slowly tightening things up (I've already lost my grandfather's PPK because it is too small of a caliber) and it's pretty obvious that the federal goverment is going to continue down that path. Look for the next round (either further restrictions on handguns or a half assed "weapons that look dangerous law" ala the law that is expiring in the US when the next strong majority is voted in from central Canada.

I find it funny how the folks from rural areas are so concerned with having a gun for protection in their home when in fact they would almost never need one. People in urban areas, who might actually need a gun for protection in their home, are much more likely to be in favor of gun control. I wonder why that is?

At my father's old place instead of the cops being 5-10 minutes away they were 50-60 minutes away. When you live in a truely rural area your on your own. My father was broken into twice in five years. Once by people (when he was on vacation) and once by a black bear who will not be a repeat offender thanks to mister 12 guage. A 12 guage is the best home defense weapon. Just the sound of a pump action racking will scare people away. And a slug will take down anything your likely to encounter.
posted by Mitheral at 10:47 AM on September 10, 2004


Crikey! Who the hell is Barrett marketing to? And please tell me the US government isn't letting them sell outside the USA, 'cause it'll be US helicopters that end up taking the bullet.

Blows me away, actually, that the US allows any arms trading. Why would you put your own soldiers at risk of being killed by US-manufactured weapons?! Very foolish, that.


You make it sound as if small arms manufacturing can only be done in the USA. To reiterate a point here: it's very very easy for any medium-sized company, or small national government/dictatorship to manufacture almost any of these small arms. In the case of .50cal sniper rifles the basic functioning is so easy that lone machinists in their basements can and do make custom weapons.

Only the more recent US weapons - the now-defunct OICW and the now-delayed OCSW - would present a significant challenge for any significant group of people to mass-produce. The US couldn't get the OICW right (nobody could - it was underpowered in both aspects), and we're having trouble getting the OCSW out the door (although it will be a superior weapon when we finally do so)
posted by Ryvar at 11:09 AM on September 10, 2004


Ryvar - you're welcome....and then there was the guy recently caught in Texas who has assembled a binary chemical weapon capable of killing everyone in an enclosed 3,000 (or was it 30,000 ?) square foot space - like a stadium. He had guns too, of course, but the Cyanide bomb was far, far worse.

I'd love a world without guns, but it ain't gonna happen unless humans - en masse, each and every one - tweak their DNA for less aggression : in practical terms, never.

Further, there are far worse things coming down the pike than firearms. The proliferation of technology pretty much guarantees the emergence of all sorts of nastiness and
solutions to that, unfortunately, are either impractical (stop scientific and technological progress) or downright awful (repressive one world totalitarian government).

*shrugs, walks away*
posted by troutfishing at 11:51 AM on September 10, 2004


Because it invariably leads to confiscation.

I strongly disagree with this statement of psuedo-fact, and request more support for it. Furthermore, history offers no parallels to the degree of firearm ownership in America or consequences incured from an attempt to recind that. Simply put, stating an intent to confiscate firearms is a far fricken' cry from being able to do it. This is precisely where the second amendment comes in to play, with all violence implied. We have the right to keep arms in the very case that some asshat decides that we shouldn't have that right. Nothing about licensing as a firearm user stands against that, and I would appreciate some form of proof that it does.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:33 PM on September 10, 2004


In my opinion, there are certain activities that, for the well being of society as a whole, require a slightly higher level of responsibility from those wanting to participate in them, and owning a firearm is one of those things. In this case, a regulation may be infringement in the literal sense, but still well within the spirit of the law. I find it funny how the folks from rural areas are so concerned with having a gun for protection in their home when in fact they would almost never need one. People in urban areas, who might actually need a gun for protection in their home, are much more likely to be in favor of gun control. I wonder why that is?

I disagree. When you're in a city, you are close to police and other people. When you live rurally, it can be a long time between calling the police and them arriving. Entirely too long to be defenseless.

I live in a rural county. There are 2 or 3 officers on duty for the entire area. If all officers are on a call at the other end of the county, even going at a high rate of speed (which isn't smart due to deer and other animals who wander in the road) it could take them 40 minutes to get to us.

And, that is if they can leave the first call and aren't on one of the dirt roads at the far end of the county.

If they do poorly at testing that determines whether they can safely operate a firearm, than its a pretty damn good bet that they can't or won't operate a firearm safely. The right to keep and bear arms does not give you the right to use said in an unsafe manner.


There are people out there who are completely knowledgable and safe with firearms who do not test well. Testing well is a skill on top of knowing the material.

That's a terribly poor counter example. Proving that one can safely use a weapon, and licensing them to do so, has nothing to do with whether or not they can divide fractions. You can get a freakin' driver's license with an elementary education, can't you?

In Virginia if you are illiterate you can have the questions asked of you orally. Would it be allowed of those being licensed to own a firearm?

I know plenty of men who are in their 50s who can not read or who can read only the simplest statements. Maybe, where you live, Wulfgar! that isn't the case. I live in a poor, rural area where there are a large number of people who don't have running water or electricity.
People who are less educated have the same rights as you and I. Forcing them to be licensed to own a firearm would be a reduction in their rights.

As for the driver's license vs. firearm license, no where in the Constution does it state that you have the right to drive a vehicle.

In my opinion, there are certain activities that, for the well being of society as a whole, require a slightly higher level of responsibility from those wanting to participate in them, and owning a firearm is one of those things. In this case, a regulation may be infringement in the literal sense, but still well within the spirit of the law.


Trivirgata, I disagree. A licensing requirement would be an infringement of the right to own firearms. The vast majority of gun owners are responsible citizens who do not commit any type of crime. Forcing them to be licensed to own legal weapons is an infringement.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:51 PM on September 13, 2004


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