Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Assault Weapon" Idiocy

Here we go again with talk of reinstating the so-called "assault weapons" ban. According to ABC News, Attorney General Holder said
putting the ban back in place would not only be a positive move by the United States, it would help cut down on the flow of guns going across the border into Mexico
I'm sure drug smugglers are going to be deterred by laws banning an imaginary class of weapons. Plus we all know that criminal Mexican gangs are noted for obeying laws. They won't be able to get the weapons they want illegally. According to the report,
Some recent Mexican army and police confrontations with drug cartels have resembled small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades"
That kind of weaponry has absolutely nothing to do with so-called assault weapons, and reviving the ban would have zero effect. Holder is either totally clueless, or he knows this and is just spouting dishonest propaganda in order to generate support for the ban. The main people who would be affected by the ban are law abiding gun owners who use the weapons for target shooting, keep them for self-defense, collect them, or buy them for other legal purposes.

Politicians, many of whom are completely ignorant when it comes to firearms, love to toss around terms like "assault weapons," as if they had actual meaning. There are such things as assault rifles, selective fire weapons capable of fully automatic fire. Civilian ownership of assault rifles is already tightly restricted. There are civilian versions of these rifles, but they are semi-automatic only -- you have to pull the trigger for every shot. They are not machine guns, they do not "spray" bullets, and the main reason they are classed as "assault weapons" by clueless politicians, is that they look like scary military weapons. Despite their appearance, they are functionally equivalent to numerous other semi-automatic rifles. Basically an assault weapon can be anything that a politician thinks it is, which is why calls to revive a ban are so disturbing to anyone who cares about gun rights.

Later on in the article, Holder also calls for banning "cop-killer bullets." What's a cop-killer bullet? Again, they are pretty much what any politician decides they are, since any bullet can kill a cop. Assault weapons are a made-up category of weapons, and cop-killer bullets are their made-up counterpart for ammunition. Allowing politicians to make up terms, label categories of weapons and ammunition with them, and then ban them, is a really bad idea. Unfortunately it's not surprising. No one on the right with any sense believed Obama's promises to respect gun rights.


Nancy Pelosi is not on board with reviving the assault weapons ban. She says she hasn't talked to the administration about it, and thinks we need to focus on enforcing current laws. I rarely have anything good to say about the Speaker of the House, but I'm glad to hear that she seems to be taking a commonsense view of this issue.


  1. Semiautomatic guns are actually more likely to be used in crime than automatic guns, which are harder to hide. The dysphemisms are pretty bad, but the basic idea - namely, that reducing private handgun ownership reduces the murder rate - is sound. The annoying thing isn't that the Democrats are anti-handgun, but that they have no idea how to argue persuasively for more gun control. If you're looking for an underlying explanation, it's that the Democratic Party consists of a coalition of urban liberals, who think the only reason people want to own guns is vigilantism, and rural populists, who don't care about urban crime rates.

  2. "Semiautomatic guns are actually more likely to be used in crime than automatic guns, which are harder to hide."

    Being semi-auto or full auto has nothing to do with size. It's the action of the gun that determines how it loads each round. The weapons on the ban list were civilian versions of assault rifles and submachinguns, such as the AR15, AK47, Tec9, Uzi, Mac10, etc.

    "but the basic idea - namely, that reducing private handgun ownership reduces the murder rate - is sound."

    No it isn't. Many of the places in the U.S. with the toughest gun laws have the highest murder rates. And the assault weapons ban isn't about handguns anyway.

  3. If you compare cities to cities, then gun law severity correlates negatively with the crime rate. New York and Boston, which strong gun laws, have lower murder rates than Philadelphia and Washington, whose gun laws are more lenient. And Honolulu, which is essentially gun-free, has a murder rate slightly higher than Tokyo's and far lower than that of any city on the US mainland. This extends to international comparisons - the US has the highest murder rate and highest gun ownership in the developed world, followed by Finland and Switzerland, which rank second and third in per capita gun ownership.