Jane R. Eisner -- Gun lobby shouts the loudest
By Jane R. Eisner
I cannot fathom why any law-abiding citizen would own an assault weapon. Packing a pistol for protection is understandable. Using a hunting rifle during a hike through the woods on a cool autumn morning has an undeniable appeal, though I'd much prefer the walk without the weaponry.
But semiautomatic guns aren't used for safety or recreation; their rat-a-tat is meant to turn a civilian landscape into something resembling a war zone. This nation first restricted private ownership of fully automated weapons -- that is, machine guns -- in 1934. Why owning a Kalashnikov or an Uzi has a more acceptable public purpose eludes me.
Our national ban on certain assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, included in the Crime Control Act of 1994, is due to expire next month. At first glance, extending it would appear to be common sense.
Unfortunately, when it comes to legislating gun use in this country, common sense takes a back seat to emotion. And the feelings of those who view this ban as nothing less than an infringement of constitutional rights run so loud and strong that even the support of President Bush -- who once favored extending the ban -- is now reduced to a barely audible whisper.
Helped by the President's flip-flop, the ban could die come September. The irony is this: The ban is so limited and the forces against it so strong that whatever happens, the effect may be more symbolic than real.
The facts show that the ban's effectiveness in reducing criminal use of guns with military-style features and large ammunition capacities is debatable. Like Prohibition's effects on alcohol consumption, this ban had its own unintended consequences. The gun industry created its own versions of speakeasies. The market played its own tricks.
And the ban left untouched the real sources of danger with guns: illegal purchases, spotty prosecution of gun trafficking, and irresponsible owners.
When the ban took effect on Sept. 13, 1994, the country was reeling from stories of assault weapons used in school shootings, gang warfare and other acts of seemingly senseless violence. Even so, the ban was narrow as a nozzle: Only 18 models of guns were named, along with large-capacity magazines, which can hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
The weapons banned in the law were used in only about 2 percent of all gun crimes before the ban, so banning them hardly had an effect. Plus, gun manufacturers ratcheted up production so that a year's worth of assault weapons were produced in the nine months leading to the ban and were grandfathered in, says Jeffrey A. Roth of the Jerry Lee Center of Criminology at the University of Pennsylvania. (Roth and his colleague, Christopher S. Koper, have done the official analysis for the U.S. Department of Justice; their analysis is the source for these data.)
Also slipping in before the ban took effect were nearly 25 million guns equipped with LCMs.
So the share of gun crimes involving assault weapons did subsequently drop, but the decline was offset by the rising use of other guns equipped with LCMs.
And let's not forget the inventiveness of gun manufacturers, who created new weaponry different enough from the old to be legal, but still lethal. This makes stopping grandpa from brewing moonshine in the backyard look easy.
One moral of this story is that even well-intentioned attempts to stem the flow of goods in a market economy can backfire, since such attempts spur producers to find ingenious yet legal ways of circumventing the common good.
Besides, as Daniel Webster of the Center for Gun Policy and Research at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health says, ``We have much bigger problems than assault weapons. There are poor regulatory systems with all kinds of loopholes that need to be addressed.''
These run from the obvious -- the ease with which weapons are purchased at gun shows without any scrutiny of buyers' background or intent -- to the subtle. Webster and his colleagues just published research showing that laws requiring guns to be safely stored can help reduce teen suicide. Yet too many states, Pennsylvania among them, have no such laws.
Our existing laws are often barely enforced. The Brady Act of 1993 created a three-day waiting period and required that firearms dealers perform background checks. But a report issued in July by the inspector general of the U.S. Department of Justice found lax enforcement. In 2002 and 2003, for instance, less than 1 percent of the 120,000 people with a questionable background were prosecuted.
The gun lobby cries that instead of new laws we should better enforce the ones we have. Fine. Let's do it. Let's make sure that weapons don't get in the hands of youngsters, that background checks are rigorous, immediate and consequential, and that gun trafficking is prosecuted to the fullest.
In the meantime, the assault weapons ban may die an unnatural death. Just wait: The next time someone opens fire on a school or street or restaurant, we'll be clamoring to bring it back. Perhaps then we'll be able to craft a law that has a better chance of working.
another "let's do it for the children" with sands of freedom in their vagina
But, really, where to start with this shit?
No answer for that which is unanswerable. The big lie is obviously the best in her opinion, so why not lead with it.
Who says that gun ownership must have a public purpose? Does your ownership of a pair of shoes have a public purpose? To answer it directly, however, it's only necessary to go right to the Second Amendment itself "...necessary to the security of a free state..."
Well put, but obviously by mistake. She apparently thinks that the conservatives are using emotional arguments. Pot > kettle > black. Wow!
Once again: Pot > kettle > black. This, from the side that is backing the consummate flip-flopper.
And then it's followed by the facts about 2 paragraphs below:
WTF is she thinking anyway?
And this is a problem with the AWB, how? (I can just hear the editors discussion about this article "Hey, let's just throw it all up against the wall & see what sticks.")
I assume that she's talking about Columbine even though it took place long after the AWB. In any event, things like that are more a function of the extensive coverage and agenda driven coverage, at that, by the ultra-leftwing media. Interestingly, the young lady who provided some of the firearms to Harris & Klebold was never charged.
Who know that Jerry Lee Lewis was even in to criminology?
More whining that sounds like the gun manufacturers somehow tricked the lawmakers. If the lawmakers are that naive, then they deserve what they get.
I bet that his namesake is rolling over in his grave!
Don't let the facts get in your way.
It would be interesting to see the "facts" that make up that study. Can you say "hypothesis fitting? I knew you could."
And, IIRC, zero were prosecuted during the Clintons terms.
Now where's that interpretation of what a woman really means when she says "fine?" Somehow I have the feeling that even stricter enforcement still would not placate her.
Or not. Hopefully if anything that tragic happens there will be several people with legal concealed weapons who will take out the bad guy/s. Again, however, it could wind up like the coverage of the shooting at Appalachian Law School that died a quick death when it came to light that the bad guy was stopped with legal firearms. Or, the Pali terrorist who was shot in an Israeli supermarket by a shopper who was carrying a legal handgun & she shot him before he could detonate his suicide bomb. The major concern in these types of incidents, after the tragic loss of life, is the media advancing their agenda. If it is a slow news day, a shooting can be vastly blown out of proportion. It's unfortunate, but people have been doing terrible things to one another since there have been people. Disarming lawful gun owners is not going to change that.
At the risk of being called a sexist, this sounds like a typical female rant disguised as a well thought out argument.
WTF is an LCM anyway?
And who is Jane R. Eisner?
I think she means Large Capacity Magazine. I had to read it real carefully to get the drift of that. Now my head hurts from the liberal nonsense.
Don in Ohio