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9/22/2017 12:11:25 AM
Posted: 9/19/2005 10:56:18 PM EDT

Strangely quiet out there in the leftist media, hmmmm....


End of gun ban has little effect in state No increase reported in crimes using previously banned arms
BY J.L. MILLER / The News Journal

The predictions were dire. The expiration of the 10-year-old federal assault-weapons ban would flood the streets with AK-47s and other weapons of war.

With the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the ban passing quietly last week, the reality has proved much less grim. The assault-weapons ban went out with a whimper, not a bang.

Although precise figures are not available, police in Delaware have not reported an increase in crimes committed with previously banned weapons.

And area gun dealers say they have not seen an increase in demand, possibly because so many guns that had been legally manufactured before the law remained on the market through the decade-long ban.

But proponents and opponents of the legislation, which Congress declined to renew last year, remain divided on whether it accomplished anything -- and whether it should be reinstated.

"A year later, I still certainly feel we need the ban," said Sarah Brady, the Dewey Beach resident who founded the national gun-control group now known as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

"Thank goodness we haven't seen any huge increase [in shootings]. That doesn't mean there isn't one around the corner," said Brady, whose husband, former White House press secretary Jim Brady, was seriously wounded after a 1981 assassination attempt on President Reagan.

Another key player in the gun-control debate also lives in Delaware: John Sigler, a retired Dover police captain who is first vice president of the National Rifle Association and the likely successor to its president, Sandra S. Froman.

"I'm not surprised there hasn't been much effect," Sigler said.

The assault-weapons ban's 10-year sunset provision, he said, "was a test, an experiment if you will, and during the course of that 10-year experiment, [then-President] Clinton's own Justice Department came to the conclusion that the ban would have no effect on the criminal use of firearms."

Delaware authorities do not keep track of the type of firearms used or recovered in crimes.

But, state police troopers have been involved in incidents that led to the arrest of people using weapons that were classed as assault rifles.

"Over the last year we've had four incidents where we recovered assault rifles," state police spokesman Lt. Joseph Aviola said. "That's down two from [the previous] year."

Detractors of the ban say it was merely cosmetic. The law banned combinations of such military features as flash suppressors and bayonet lugs, but the weapons themselves remained essentially unchanged.

The ban also played on a popular misconception "that somehow a semiautomatic firearm was synonymous with a fully automatic firearm," the NRA's Sigler said.

Fully automatic firearms, which fire a steady stream of bullets for as long as the trigger is held, are severely restricted under federal law and are illegal in Delaware.

Semiautomatics, the guns that were covered under the assault-weapons ban, fire one shot each time the trigger is pressed.

The ban also outlawed newly manufactured ammunition magazines holding more than 10 rounds -- and gun-control advocate Brady finds that perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the ban's demise.

"To me, I don't care cosmetically what [firearms] look like. It's what they're capable of doing," Brady said. "That's the problem, the problem being that you don't want the ability to fire many, many rounds very, very quickly."

Brady also fears that the expected congressional approval of legislation to shield firearm manufacturers and dealers from many lawsuits will prompt gun makers to unleash a new wave of increasingly deadly products.

"Now they're going to be immune, so that means Nellie bar the door," Brady said.

Sigler, though, called that prediction "more scare tactics."

Brady remains hopeful that the political pendulum, which has swung sharply in favor of gun-owners' rights in recent years, will swing again.

"I guess I'm an old enough broad, I've seen it swing so many times," Brady said. "The younger folks that work in my office, they get so downhearted, it breaks their heart when they see the way things are going. I tell them it will get better."

Meanwhile, John Massey, owner of Shooter's Supply in New Castle, is doing a brisk business -- in hunting equipment, not quasi-military rifles.

"We do a little bit of [business in assault-type guns], but it's not our main deal here," said Massey, who will order such a weapon if a customer asks.

"We prefer to carry the higher-quality guns," he said.
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