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An Armed Society is a Polite Society
September 13, 2004 2:47 PM   Subscribe

US Ban on Assault Weapons Expires

Without much fanfare the ten year old ban on assault weapons has expired. How does this affect our relative level of safety now that we can all own high powered, high capacity weapons again?
posted by fenriq (61 comments total)

 
It doesn't affect our safety, just like the ban on "assault weapons" didn't increase our safety.
posted by me & my monkey at 2:49 PM on September 13, 2004


Press briefing.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 2:51 PM on September 13, 2004


Thanks Armitage, that totally cleared it all up for me.
posted by fenriq at 2:59 PM on September 13, 2004


see also
posted by angry modem at 3:02 PM on September 13, 2004


I haven't been attacked with a bayonet since the band so it must have been working.
posted by sexymofo at 3:04 PM on September 13, 2004


Well, I guess you're just lucky enough to live in a nicer neighborhood than some of us.
posted by sonofsamiam at 3:08 PM on September 13, 2004


I wouldn't say "without much fanfare"--the Kerry campaign was hammering this point home for the better part of the week. Even CNN was covering it pretty extensively the few times I flipped by it late last week.
posted by The God Complex at 3:12 PM on September 13, 2004


Is there such a thing as a "non-assault" weapon?
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:13 PM on September 13, 2004


From what I've read there was a very minor reduction in crimes commited with 'assault weapons' due to the ban but those types of weapons were rarely used in crimes. On the other hand there's not a whole lot of non-NRA bullshit statistics supporting there use in preventing crime either.
posted by substrate at 3:13 PM on September 13, 2004


Finally. My hunting has really suffered over the past ten years.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 3:15 PM on September 13, 2004


Regarding the press gaggle: That Scott McClellan is enough to make me miss Ari. McClellan's approach seems to be simple repetition: The President's position is well known. The President's position is well known. The President's position is well known. Ari made obfuscation and diversion an art form, for better or worse.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:16 PM on September 13, 2004


Here's a liberal explaining why it's not a big deal, and was kind of a dumb law in the first place.

I'm on the fence about it.
posted by mathowie at 3:17 PM on September 13, 2004


From what I've read there was a very minor reduction in crimes commited with 'assault weapons' due to the ban but those types of weapons were rarely used in crimes. On the other hand there's not a whole lot of non-NRA bullshit statistics supporting there use in preventing crime either.

Realistically, I'd imagine that more easily concealed weapons (pistols) would make a better choice for committing crimes. On the other hand, it's a good start towards a more stringent gun-owning policy in the states. Perhaps if they move towards it slowly the insane amount of gun fetishists in the U.S. will be overrun by common sense. For a little fun with numbers, look at the murder rates in major cities in Canada: Vancouver and Toronto both have the sorts of issues with poverty that often breeds that sort of violence. They're dramatically lower. Obviously there are other factors involved, but we get much of the same culture in Canada, so it stands to reason that the lack of gun ownership here plays a large role in the reduced murder rates.
posted by The God Complex at 3:19 PM on September 13, 2004


now that we can all own high powered, high capacity weapons again

We could all own them anyway; sale of existing magazines was legal.
posted by nicwolff at 3:21 PM on September 13, 2004


On the other hand, it's a good start towards a more stringent gun-owning policy in the states. Perhaps if they move towards it slowly the insane amount of gun fetishists in the U.S. will be overrun by common sense.

On the contrary; it legitimizes the worst fears of those "fetishists." Focusing on the kind of gun, as if one type were clearly more lethal than another, is absolutely the wrong approach.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:28 PM on September 13, 2004


Big whoop. All this means is that I won't have to reload clips as many times when I go to the range.

As a NON-NRA shooter ... these are things I've heard bandied around, and I'm not sure of sources. The % of gun crimes that these guns were involved in fell to like 1 from 2... or .01% from .02% of crimes. Of course, the number of deaths due to pistols increased ... On the other hand, the only demographic that increased is 18-20 year old shooters, who can't get the damned things legally no matter what anyway. You're also about a billion times more likely to die due to a knife attack or blunt trauma assault than you are from a gun shot wound of any type.

Additionally, all of the police whining about high-power is manufactured. If you want to take out a cop with a gun that'll peirce armor, you can get any one of a million rifles that are designed to kill big game. The rifles are semiautomatic.

If Kerry wanted to actually DO something to make Americans safer, he'd start by making vehicles safer and getting rid of SUVs, since you're about a billion trillion times more likely to die in a SUV vs. car crash than you are at the receiving end of an "assault weapon".

Also, re: statistics ... I didn't go and research statistics mainly because when I had to do this for a college report ages ago I only found NRA statistics. The unfortunate thing for gun-control supporters, and the result of my paper (which was on bias in media and use of statistics on a current issue) was that the crime statistics that I got from my state using a FOIA request to determine weapon type (those stats aren't publicly available in most areas) matched the NRA's results.

This whole froo-fra is useless pissing and moaning designed just to make the sheep go, "ooh, must vote kerry. must vote kerry. must vote ker... ooh, donuts ... "

On Preview: What matthowie's link said.
posted by SpecialK at 3:28 PM on September 13, 2004


Precisely as SpecialK and mathowie have said. You have no more or less ability to go out and own OMFG Uber Machine Gun of Death 5000 now than you did under the AWB -- the automatic weapons that the press are so breathless about have always been, and continue to be, Class III restricted weapons which you need to get a special permit from the ATF, and pay a hefty yearly tax, to own.

And one other thing, while I'm on it -- despite what CNN et al would have you believe, the purpose of a flash suppressor is not to hide the location of the shooter at night. Even with a suppressor, the firing location will be quite visible; what it does do is keep the muzzle blast from blinding the shooter in the dark.

Oh, and yes. You can now fear being stabbed in close quarters with an AR-16 mounted bayonet. Or being shot with the 11th round, after the first 10 missed you. Scary stuff.
posted by jammer at 3:44 PM on September 13, 2004


I wouldn't say "without much fanfare"--the Kerry campaign was hammering this point home for the better part of the week.
KERRY COSPONSORED BILL BANNING GUN HE WAVES
posted by thomcatspike at 3:48 PM on September 13, 2004


If Kerry wanted to actually DO something to make Americans safer, he'd start by making vehicles safer and getting rid of SUVs, since you're about a billion trillion times more likely to die in a SUV vs. car crash than you are at the receiving end of an "assault weapon".

I just realized there's not really much point in debating this, not when the real killer--old age--is still out there, killing millions and millions every year. Maybe Kerry should fight old age instead of herding all the sheep into the pasture. Or logical fallacies. He could fight those.

Seriously, though, I don't really know why I'm debating this. You guys have fun down there.
posted by The God Complex at 3:50 PM on September 13, 2004


thomcatspike, that link is utter and complete bullshit. The gun he's waving isn't banned.
posted by substrate at 3:51 PM on September 13, 2004


thomcatspike -- nice link, although Drudge is completely wrong in his "analysis" (as usual). A so-called "grip" that's part of the stock doesn't count as a "pistol grip", never has, which Drudge would have found out had he bothered to check.

He should just stick to linking to stories written by real journalists.
posted by clevershark at 4:03 PM on September 13, 2004


Check this baby out:



Approved by Trench Coat Mafia everywhere.
posted by the fire you left me at 4:11 PM on September 13, 2004


If the law was imperfect, why not fix it rather than do away with it? I don't see how making assault weapons cheaper and easier to obtain is a good thing, no matter how you slice it.
posted by spilon at 4:21 PM on September 13, 2004


One of the biggest problems here is an effort to outlaw "belligerence". To try and force people to stop being mean or hostile to each other--call it the "negative waves laws".
Responsible gun control should be based on logic, not irrational fear or phobia. Some people are just afraid of the loud noise generated by a gun, it disturbs their "Wa". They are terrified that someone will sneak up behind them and pop a paper bag: enough justification for them to want to outlaw paper bags.

For example, blade injuries are far more deadly than gunshots--four times as many people regularly die of them than gunshots in the US. But knives are quiet, and don't "menace" as much as do guns. So people are *irrationally* NOT afraid of bladed weapons as much as a small gun.

Noise bad.

So why outlaw "assault weapons" and leave legal weapons that are just as deadly, but are full sized and so, what, not as macho? Ironically, to outlaw a weapon that could sport a rather ineffectual bayonet, *because* the bayonet looks intimidating?

In other words, this gets silly. If you had a bolt action .22 caliber rifle named the "Deathstick Erectile He-Man Slaughterer 8000", would it be more likely to be banned than a fully automatic 20 gauge shotgun called the "Hello Kitty Personal Assurance System"?
posted by kablam at 4:40 PM on September 13, 2004


spilon, define "assault weapon", please.
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:42 PM on September 13, 2004


NPR's Morning Edition Coverage on this today summarizes the problems with Bush's attacks on Kerry, Kerry's attacks on Bush, and the silliness of the whole thing.

Is there such a thing as a "non-assault" weapon?

Indeed. :)
posted by weston at 5:02 PM on September 13, 2004


I've always felt that the solution is not to legislate the types of guns but the configuration. Each weapon that is capable of firing should have something about the size of a 16Lb bowling ball attached to the grip. Makes it more difficult to hide and use. In addition to the existing crime laws anyone committing a crime with the ball removed is subject to the death sentence. I don't expect to see a bill anytime soon.
posted by mss at 5:32 PM on September 13, 2004


Anyone got a link to the most powerful weapon legally available during the ban and the most powerful weapon available now?
posted by krisjohn at 5:43 PM on September 13, 2004


The Hello Kitty Personal Reassurance System.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:05 PM on September 13, 2004


krisjohn, that would probably be one of the various .50 bmg rifles out there. None of which were affected by this ban - except for maybe magazine size.
posted by Tenuki at 6:12 PM on September 13, 2004


Anyone got a link to the most powerful weapon legally available during the ban and the most powerful weapon available now?

The problem with this question is that it assumes there is exists a 'most powerful.'

If most powerful equates to firing the largest round, the NTW-20 was not affected by this ban.

If most powerful equates to being able to kill a person with incredible accuracy a mile and a half away, a custom-made Bravo 51 chambered for .338 Lapua is exactly the same as acquiring any normal bolt-action hunting rifle before, during, and after ban.

If most powerful equates to being able to kick down that door over there, level something quickly and cut the crowd in the next room all in half with it, then the pistol grip on the SA 58 OSW mod is no longer banned, but that aside you'd have needed a class III license with FBI background check, permission from your local police chief, and surrendering of your 4th amendment rights to get one before anyway.

If most powerful equates to 'most likely to kill you if shot at by it at home-defense ranges' then the Saiga 12K has the same 1986 National Firearms Act problems as the SA 58 OSW mod.

On Preview: krisjohn, that would probably be one of the various .50 bmg rifles out there. None of which were affected by this ban - except for maybe magazine size.

There are plenty of weapons similar to a .50cal sniper rifle that use more powerful rounds, first and foremost the NTW-20 linked above - it's just the .50cal weapons are a lot more popular. Your basic point though is right.
posted by Ryvar at 6:30 PM on September 13, 2004


It doesn't affect our safety, just like the ban on "assault weapons" didn't increase our safety.

Now that Osama's agents can buy these weapons cheap and easy we're all safer.

Off-issue, but related: I think having 100,000 new cops on the ground was one of the best ideas Clinton came up with. W nixed it's funding; I guess in the age of terror we don't need more first responders. Where is the outrage?
posted by Bag Man at 7:00 PM on September 13, 2004


It's disheartening that the human race has a need to kill its own members.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:03 PM on September 13, 2004


No, Ryvar, it's not just that the .50 caliber is more popular; it's also more legal.

Anything but a shotgun over a half-inch bore (aka .50 caliber) is classified as a "destructive device" and deemed outside the realm of "arms" as used in the second amendment, and therefore unprotected by the second amendment.
posted by NortonDC at 7:09 PM on September 13, 2004


BTW, is there any reason world leaders aren't more often assassinated by sniper rifle? Given that Princess Patricia's snipers were picking 'em off at 2.5km ranges (and that while the US Army dropped effin' bombs on our boys!), I should think any of your standard guns-for-hire should be able to accomplish shots from a kilometer or more. Seems like a reasonably safe way to remain at-large after the shot.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:09 PM on September 13, 2004


I've read a few threads / "debates" about this. Most of people complaining about this are just spreading a bunch of FUD. I say most, but not all. Rarely are the facts actually part of their argument. It's not so bad in here, though.
posted by tomplus2 at 7:13 PM on September 13, 2004


Anyone got a link to the most powerful weapon legally available during the ban and the most powerful weapon available now?

For both, the answer would almost certainly have to be an original or replica Civil War-type black powder cannon (scroll down to "Parrott rifle"). They'll shoot a three-inch, 5 pound cannonball a good mile or more, and they seem to be more or less unregulated (at least by the Feds, though IIRC black powder itself is regulated).

Being hit by one would turn you into goo real quick.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:32 PM on September 13, 2004


"Destructive device," ROU_Xenophobe.
posted by NortonDC at 7:48 PM on September 13, 2004


Now that Osama's agents can buy these weapons cheap and easy we're all safer.

They could buy them before, too. Read the old law and marvel at it's ineffectiveness before mourning its passing.
posted by majcher at 8:38 PM on September 13, 2004


Bah. Stupid apostrophes.
posted by majcher at 8:38 PM on September 13, 2004


I really think that gun control is one of the major issues that the democrats should rarely bring up (saying this as someone who leans left), especially if it would demostrate how partisan the NRA has become.

It seems the weapon ban hasn't had much affect on crime, but, post 9-11, these type of weapons would be very useful for a cell wishing to take over a school in the style of the attack in Russia.
posted by drezdn at 9:03 PM on September 13, 2004


"Destructive device," ROU_Xenophobe

Not black-powder muzzle-loaders like Parrott guns.

From an ATF FAQ:

M26) Are muzzleloading cannons classified as destructive devices?

Generally, no. Muzzleloading cannons not capable of firing fixed ammunition and manufactured in or before 1898 and replicas thereof are antiques and not subject to the provisions of either the GCA or the NFA.

[26 U.S.C. 5845, 27 CFR 179.11]

Weird, huh? You can't have a shotgun with an extra handle on it, but you can have a full-on no-shit cannon the likes of which have knocked down more than one complete town with, as near as I can tell, no permitting or licensing required (except maybe for the powder). Though I suppose nobody has ever robbed a liquor store with a cannon, at least not since 1865 or so.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:09 PM on September 13, 2004


Got it, ROU_Xenophobe. Thanks.
posted by NortonDC at 9:21 PM on September 13, 2004


Cool.

I want a cannon. I'll use it to patrol the perimeter.

Noboby better get in my way...or else.
posted by troutfishing at 10:24 PM on September 13, 2004


Should have defined "powerful" to include rate of fire. Given that a black-powder cannon probably takes 30-60 seconds to reload if you're an expert and five minutes if you're not, can someone provide an answer to my initial question that involves slightly more portable modern weapons?
posted by krisjohn at 10:34 PM on September 13, 2004


To those who are less weapon knowledgeable note that black powder is easy to manufacture and the raw materials are unrestrictable on the supply side. Charcoal is makable by anyone (though quality charcoal is harder). Sulfur is available in garden supply outlets and passing over North American railroads in 100tonne railcars. potassium Nitrate may be controlled ( I haven't needed to buy any post 9/11 but it used to be widely available) but anyone with live stock can make it without any special equipment.
posted by Mitheral at 10:38 PM on September 13, 2004


Sorry, found it now, thanks.
posted by krisjohn at 10:39 PM on September 13, 2004


Oh, sure, now you specify *modern* weapons. Suh, I DEMAND SATISFACTION! Six-inch smoothbores at 500 yards, at dawn. (viz, Blackadder II, but with non-wussy guns)

So my bride is a nice Canadian lass, which means I've crossed the border many a time by car. They always ask if I'm carrying any firearms, and I say Certainly Not. But this one time, the border agent then goes on to ask me if I have any firearms back home in Texas.

And just for that minute, I sincerely wished I owned a Parrott gun*, so I could -- nay, would have to! -- truthfully say "Just the cannon, ma'am." Other minutes I want one to do Very Bad Things to watermelons and junked cars, but really I'd prefer a nice big trebuchet for that

*I met a couple of reenactors who had one, and, as you might guess, one of the first questions I had was "You mean it actually shoots? Jeeee-zus, what kind of license do you need for one of those?" The answer being, "None." My utter astonishment at this occasion being how I've stumbled across this bit o' info and why it's stuck in the nooks and crannies of my brain, which mostly just hold the melted butter.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:52 PM on September 13, 2004


Guns don't kill people, rappers do.
Summon the police
Woop Woop Woop
posted by seanyboy at 12:21 AM on September 14, 2004


ROU_Xenophobe - I'd love to have a Parrott gun on my lawn.
posted by troutfishing at 7:11 AM on September 14, 2004


Ooooh, I want a cannon! Turf wars with the HOA could get way more interesting that way.

As to the hoopla about this ban/lack thereof...it's just insane. While the ban was in effect, I could go to a gun show and buy an AK47. Now that the ban is gone...I can go to a gun show and buy an AK47. Whoop! Ok, granted, I can now buy a 17 shell cartridge for my Glock, instead of a 10 shot. Again...other than saving me time at the range...so what?

The ban was nonsensical. The hoopla about the ending of the ban is nonsensical. This changes virtually nothing.
posted by dejah420 at 11:36 AM on September 14, 2004


Hmm. Seems to me there were a lot of shooting sprees in the U.S. since 1994 ...
posted by moonbiter at 11:44 AM on September 14, 2004


They could buy them before, too. Read the old law and marvel at it's ineffectiveness before mourning its passing.

Gun control is not the answer to all crime or terrorism prevention, but it's a common sense first step. I know that terrorists could get those types of gun under ban, but why make any easier?
posted by Bag Man at 12:57 PM on September 14, 2004


Gun control is not the answer to all crime or terrorism prevention, but it's a common sense first step.

No, no it isn't. It's a common fallacy...and from an emotional standpoint, it's certainly something that many people want to believe...but being unarmed does not make you safer. Show me any scientific studies that have shown gun bans or gun control in general to have a direct impact on the reduction of violent crime.

In fact, countries that have strengthened gun control laws with the promise of lowering crime have instead seen violent crime soar. In the four years after the U.K. banned handguns in 1996, gun crime rose 40%. Since Australia's 1996 laws banning most guns and making it a crime to use a gun defensively, armed robberies rose by 51%, unarmed robberies by 37%, assaults by 24% and kidnappings by 43%. While murders fell by 3%, manslaughter rose by 16%.

Guns are fired defensively in this country over 2 million times a year. Three weeks ago, a neighbor girl was murdered when a stalker broke into her house, chased her around while her mother screamed and tried to call the police and the stalker eventually shot the girl when he trapped her in a bathroom upstairs.

Gun control advocates will tell you that she'd be alive if the attacker weren't allowed to buy the gun he used. (Which by the way, he got illegally...avoiding the pain in the ass process that those of us who buy guns legally have to go through.) People like me, who are armed, trained and willing to shoot someone to protect my family, will tell you that he would have been a dead stalker the instant he crossed the threshold of my house.

There is nothing intrinsicly wrong with the machinery that is a gun. What's wrong is a culture that tries to blame the *tool* of the criminal instead of the criminal.
posted by dejah420 at 1:46 PM on September 14, 2004


What's wrong is a culture that *USES* that tool to perform criminal acts.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:46 PM on September 14, 2004


And, for that matter, *USES* that tool to resolve disputes.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:47 PM on September 14, 2004


I'm going to celebrate this by going out and buying a couple new 15 round clips for my collection of pistols
posted by WLW at 5:00 PM on September 14, 2004


I'm going to celebrate this by going out and buying a couple new 15 round clips for my collection of pistols

Out of curiosity, did you celebrate the Kobe Bryant verdict by masturbating? Or did that just not sound as clever?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:44 PM on September 14, 2004


dejah420 - but what caliber tool is appropriate for the job ?
posted by troutfishing at 9:22 PM on September 14, 2004


The title for this thread is "An Armed Society is a Polite Society."

I'd like to point out that Canada is populated by extremely polite folk, yet we don't carry firearms.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:02 AM on September 15, 2004


Guns are fired defensively in this country over 2 million times a year. Three weeks ago, a neighbor girl was murdered when a stalker broke into her house, chased her around while her mother screamed and tried to call the police and the stalker eventually shot the girl when he trapped her in a bathroom upstairs.

Gun control advocates will tell you that she'd be alive if the attacker weren't allowed to buy the gun he used. (Which by the way, he got illegally...avoiding the pain in the ass process that those of us who buy guns legally have to go through.) People like me, who are armed, trained and willing to shoot someone to protect my family, will tell you that he would have been a dead stalker the instant he crossed the threshold of my house.


Who told you that? My post rejects the argument you are putting in my mouth. Gun control is a first step, not a total solution.

There is nothing intrinsicly wrong with the machinery that is a gun. What's wrong is a culture that tries to blame the *tool* of the criminal instead of the criminal.

If you take the tool out of the hands of the crazies they can't use it. Gee, is that so hard for an NRP person to understand?

In fact, countries that have strengthened gun control laws with the promise of lowering crime have instead seen violent crime soar. In the four years after the U.K. banned handguns in 1996, gun crime rose 40%. Since Australia's 1996 laws banning most guns and making it a crime to use a gun defensively, armed robberies rose by 51%, unarmed robberies by 37%, assaults by 24% and kidnappings by 43%. While murders fell by 3%, manslaughter rose by 16%.

Many factors go into the crime rate, the surge in crime has likely nothing to with trying to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and other crazies.

(Which by the way, he got illegally...avoiding the pain in the ass process that those of us who buy guns legally have to go through.)

Plenty of crazies and criminals have bought guns legally. Like I said, gun control is not the solution to all crime. If the criminal got the gun illegally the blame should be placed at the feet of poor police work. The fact that guns can be obtained illegally is not an argument against gun control; it's an argument for better police work and training (which Bush showed he is against by nixing the 100,000 new cops initiative).
posted by Bag Man at 9:58 AM on September 15, 2004


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