Here’s an article that appeared at The Blaze on February 14. It makes a lot of sense (unfortunately the other side doesn’t appear to be interested in logic, however).
Assault weapons were defined under the 1994 law by features that have little or nothing to do with lethality. One such feature, a folding stock, allows people of different heights use of the weapon. Another feature, a “barrel shroud,” protects the user from touching a hot barrel. Collectively, these features make the guns look more dangerous, meaning they look more like guns used in movies, but they do not make them more dangerous.
Moreover, assault weapons are rarely used in gun crimes. In 2011, nearly 13,000 people were killed by violent acts, yet only 343 were killed by rifles of any type. By comparison, blunt objects (hammers, bats, etc.) killed 500. Furthermore, if assault weapons are banned, it does not follow that those 343 people would still be alive. The killers would just choose a different weapon.
These are things that have been said by gun rights advocates for quite some time now, but seemingly are ignored. Again, I have one particular friend who, when learning that I owned an AR-15, said it was “scary.” If you press those who want to ban them, this addresses why:
Rather than being used for violence, assault weapons are more often used for self-defense (as occurred in Rochester, NY in January) and sport. Supporters often agree that little crime will be stopped by the ban, yet they often say “it’s a start.” The question must be asked: Banning one of the most responsibly used weapons, one that is used less often for violence than are bludgeons, is a “start” to what?
It’s a start in that it bans a weapon. Remember when Dianne Feinstein said she would ban all firearms if she had the votes? That’s what it’s a start to.
I have some friends who are fine with magazine restrictions. I’ve tried to get a good answer as to why and I’ve explained that more ammo is always better, especially when it comes to self defense. “The shooter can be taken down when they’re reloading” is the response I get. Great. So you’re screwed until they go through their magazine and have to pay very close attention to when a criminal is changing a magazine. Wow. It doesn’t take much thinking to see just how much is wrong with that.
New York’s recent ban on magazines that hold over seven rounds comes very close to unconstitutionality. First, magazines between 12-19 rounds are certainly in “common use.” Most semi-automatic pistols, the most popular type of gun in America, come with a magazine between 12-19 rounds. Second, at some point a low limit on magazine size compromises the right to self-defense. Even experienced shooters will not hit their target every time, and it often takes many shots to bring down an active shooter.
Focusing on mental health would be better. But even then you won’t deter a whole lot.
A better proposal would strengthen the communication between the mental health system and the Brady background check. Those with qualifying mental-health issues are already prohibited from purchasing a firearm, but records of mental disorders are often missing from the system. Again, however, we should be aware that this will do little to reduce gun crime. Most people who commit gun crimes are not crazy, they’re merely criminals.
Before jumping off the deep end and passing unconstitutional laws (many of these state laws will go to the courts, I guarantee it), perhaps we should look at what the government has done to get us to this point.
Conclusion and Other Considerations: A serious debate about gun violence in this country should not focus on mass shootings, which are a tiny, albeit horrific, part of gun violence. Many commentators bring up America’s “culture of violence” while ignoring government policies that help create that culture.