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Posted: 11/25/2002 7:18:58 AM EDT
Federal lawmakers won't be considering reauthorization of the assault-weapons ban until sometime after the 108th Congress begins its work next year, but national gun-violence-prevention groups have already begun a strikingly unified push for a more stringent ban. These groups have had sharp differences over Congressional goals and strategies in the recent past -- illustrated by their divided loyalties to competing bills purporting to close gun-show loopholes -- but they have reportedly reached general initial consensus on the assault-weapons ban. Not only do they want a bill to continue the ban when it is scheduled to expire in September 2004; they want one that does a much better job of actually getting these guns off the market. "We all seem to be on the same page," said Kristen Rand, legislative director at the Violence Policy Center (VPC), following meetings in early November. Participants included the VPC, Americans for Gun Safety, the Brady Center to Stop Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March, and the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "There's general agreement that the bill needs to strengthen as well as renew the ban," she said. "So we're hoping that there can be one bill that all the major national groups can agree on." As Brady Center spokeswoman Amy Stillwell pointed out, the recent sniper shootings in the Washington, D.C. area, which involved the legal Bushmaster .223-caliber rifle, have clearly demonstrated the need for a tougher ban. "The (D.C.) sniper incident and the Bushmaster that's on the street indicate that the law isn't necessarily absolutely conforming to the intent and spirit of Congress," she said. "If that means that the language needs to be strengthened in order to comply with the original intent and spirit of Congress, then that's what needs to happen." The argument that the ban has fallen short of its original goals was echoed by Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence. "We think Congress intended to ban assault weapons," he said. "The ban needs to be reauthorized with tools that will let law enforcement do their job." Those tools have yet to be specifically defined. But in general, according to Rand, they can be provided in large part by redefining assault weapons so that guns like the Bushmaster .223 are banned. The current law prohibits the manufacture of semiautomatic firearms with detachable magazines if they contain any two of five assault-weapon characteristics: a folding or telescoping stock, a pistol grip, a bayonet lug, a flash suppressor, or a grenade launcher. The Bushmaster .223 has a detachable magazine, and because it has only the pistol grip as one of the restricted features, it is a legal gun. Still, Rand says, the Bushmaster .223 is nevertheless "a classic assault rifle." It is also a prime example of how gun manufacturers skirt the law and take advantage of it. According to Rand, the Bushmaster .223 includes a feature called a "muzzle brake," which is very similar to a flash suppressor and falls outside the ban. One of the most curious features about the gun is its stock, which looks like a collapsing stock. But it isn't. Why would Bushmaster produce a gun with a fixed stock that looks like a collapsing stock? "To give it the 'look' that sells," Rand said. "There's a huge market for people who want a gun that looks as close to the military version of that gun as possible and that incorporates as many of these design characteristics, whether they are just cosmetic or they actually function. We believe very strongly that the silhouette and the look of the gun that the sniper chose appeals to [b]people who intend on using it for purposes like what the sniper used it for."[/b] Further evidence of how Bushmaster has drawn attention to the gun's similarity to an illegal assault rifle are advertisements in which the company refers to the gun as a "Post-Ban Carbine," designed to look like a military weapon. "A BATF approved fixed tele-style buttstock is added to complete the military look of this new carbine," read one ad. As Bushmaster so aptly demonstrates, some manufacturers seek to take advantage of laws after they are passed. Others exploit the time before laws are passed. One of the great weaknesses of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban, critics point out, is that it allowed the sale of all banned assault weapons that were built prior to the effective date of the ban. So when manufacturers knew that a particular gun was going to be banned, they went into high gear. "We've heard stories of manufacturers who literally just ran their factories night and day for weeks or months before the ban so they would have this huge stockpile," Rand said. Therefore, one of the elements of a toughened assault-weapons ban would be the elimination of "grandfather" clauses allowing manufacturers to build up inventories of guns that will become illegal. Another reasonable improvement might be reducing the number of features necessary for disqualification from two of the five assault-weapon characteristics to one of the five, as California has done with its own state assault-weapon ban. But in addition to tightening the rules, Rand contends, an improved assault-weapon ban would also include language providing enforcement agencies greater latitude for decision-making. "We would argue that there should be other, more subjective, definitions that would give enforcement agencies the means to identify guns that are in fact assault weapons--something like the 'sporting purpose' test that ATF uses in respect to imports." Of course, the details of a bill -- or bills -- to reauthorize the ban won't be known until sometime after the 108th Congress begins work early next year. Rand is optimistic about its chances, notwithstanding the Republican power monopoly on Capitol Hill. "There aren't going to be a lot of people who are going to want to go to the Senate floor and argue that we should have access to assault weapons," she said. "I don't think that pushing a bill through will be as difficult as people think." Meanwhile, the national gun-violence-prevention groups are not alone in their support of a stronger ban. The VPC has already had meetings with such organizations as the Consumer Federation of America, the Children's Defense Fund, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and various religious groups and Rand anticipates many of them will be on board for the push. Other key allies will likely include several law-enforcement groups. On Sept. 23, one week before the first D.C. sniper shooting, the Brady Center hosted a press conference where representatives of four major national law-enforcement organizations spoke about the need to reauthorize the ban. A spokeswoman for the Police Foundation, one of the groups represented at that event, said it was too early to say what kind of bill they would support, but pointed out that the group's president, Hubert Williams, has long been a strong advocate of an assault-weapons ban. "For the nation's police, such weapons present daily and deadly challenges to their ability to protect the public," he said at the Brady press conference. "Semiautomatic weapons and other weapons of war have no legitimate place in civil society and ought to be banned outright right now."
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 7:40:15 AM EDT
Um, look up top at the thumbtacked threads.
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 7:43:24 AM EDT
Sorry! I just wanted to highlight the one part. It fits everyone on this site, don't it?[:D]
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 7:45:54 AM EDT
I hate repeat threads, but this is one I don't mind reading over and over. We need to be aware of this at all times.
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 7:52:34 AM EDT
[b]"people who intend on using it for purposes like what the sniper used it for." [/b] There is that F**king word again. "INTEND" or "INTENT" Why the hell are the Socialists trying to figure out what one may or may not be thinking. What are they mindreaders now? Remember the INTENT of the voter during the 2000 Election fiasco?
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 8:19:42 AM EDT
[b]"Semiautomatic weapons ... have no legitimate place in civil society and ought to be banned outright right now."[/b]
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 8:23:20 AM EDT
thats the worst thing ive ever read! I wish they would stop calling them "assault weapons"
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 8:48:19 AM EDT
Excuse me for a moment, I'm going to vomit now.
Link Posted: 11/25/2002 9:05:42 AM EDT
The best strategy to use right now is to urge the republicans to pass a new "assault weapon" ban and get it to bush for him to sign it into law. This would be beneficial in that it would take away a major campaign issue from the democrats (getting the republicans more votes in 2004 and making up for the votes stolen by the libertarians) and will set up a challenge against the law on 2nd Amendment grounds in the supreme court. In the end everyone would win! You would all get to keep your guns a little while longer and the republicans would remain in office.
Link Posted: 11/26/2002 8:54:12 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Imbroglio: The best strategy to use right now is to urge the republicans to pass a new "assault weapon" ban and get it to bush for him to sign it into law. This would be beneficial in that it would take away a major campaign issue from the democrats (getting the republicans more votes in 2004 and making up for the votes stolen by the libertarians) and will set up a challenge against the law on 2nd Amendment grounds in the supreme court. In the end everyone would win! You would all get to keep your guns a little while longer and the republicans would remain in office.
View Quote
That sounds like NRA reasoning there.
Link Posted: 11/26/2002 9:03:11 AM EDT
This is the line that gets me: "...the Bushmaster that's on the street indicate that the law isn't necessarily absolutely conforming to the intent and spirit of Congress," Yes, the "intent" and "spirit" of Congress was to ban all guns back then, according to these assholes. Folks, if another AW ban is passed, I'm going to ignore it completely. I pretty much ignore the current one now, anyways.
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