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Posted: 9/14/2004 6:03:17 AM EDT

All except for the magazine part at the bottom.

Avoid shotgun approach on weapons ban

By Jay Ambrose

A federal ban on selling so-called assault rifles was phony from the start, and a failure to extend it is no disaster, despite the endless wailing of gun-control enthusiasts.

The 19 weapons that were banned were not the same sort of assault weapons used by soldiers. They are semi-automatic. You have to pull the trigger each time you fire a shot. The same is true of all kinds of handguns, hunting rifles and shotguns.

The chief thing that differentiates the assault rifles from other firearms is the way they look, namely, frightening. But that was enough to leave the public confused about what they were, and members of Congress could therefore appear to be heroes by banning them.

The advocates of a ban like to tell you that crimes committed with assault weapons have declined since the ban went into effect. Maybe so. But any criminal could easily find a substitute, and there is no reason to think gun crimes went down from what they would have been without the ban.

Assault weapons are used in a relatively small percentage of crimes to begin with. The preferred weapon of the criminal is a handgun small enough for easy concealment.

While it is difficult to demonstrate that any gun-control measure has ever reduced crime, which has been in decline because of tough sentencing of convicts and other reasons, it may have made sense to extend a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 bullets or shotgun shells.

Such an approach — addressing the features of firearms that make them effective weapons for criminals — would at least be more rational than banning a class of weapons based on appearance.

Jay Ambrose is director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard Newspapers, 1090 Vermont Ave. N.W., Suite 1000, Washington, DC 20005. You can reach him at AmbroseJ@shns.com.

Link Posted: 9/14/2004 6:47:20 AM EDT
I am thinking a thank you email is called for.

Mine is on the way.
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