Posted on Fri, May. 30, 2003
J.R. LABBE: GUN ISSUE MOSTLY SMOKE
Considering all the issues that should draw the attention of American politicians, it's astounding how much air is being wasted on debating -- once again -- the federal assault-weapons ban.
But then, issues that evoke emotional rather than intellectual responses always bubble to the top when election time rolls around. And don't kid yourselves; we're deep into Campaign 2004.
Apparently the incumbents and the editorial writers who championed the ban in 1994 didn't learn much about the topic during the intervening years.
Fact: The 1994 "assault-weapons" ban was about symbolism and cosmetics, not crime.
The guns covered by the Clinton-era ban, which sunsets in September 2004 if Congress doesn't vote to extend it, are semiautomatic handguns, rifles and shotguns. Some of them are made to resemble military-style small arms but are mechanically indistinguishable from traditional sporting rifles.
As much as gun-control advocates will proclaim the awful lethality of these firearms, the reality is that they work just like many of the guns that are considered acceptable.
Fact: "Assault weapons" aren't the guns of choice for America's criminals.
Even the feds acknowledge that. A 1996 National Institute of Justice report on the impact of the ban said that "the banned weapons and magazines were rarely used to commit murders in this country."
According to a recent editorial in the Los Angeles Times, the "quiet majority who worry about their families' safety" support extending the ban. The implication was that those of us who believe in a citizen's right to gun ownership don't worry about our families' safety.
Hmmm. One of the reasons Mr. and Mrs. America own firearms is personal safety -- and they "don't" worry. Guess they're right.
The old need-vs.-want argument always surfaces in this debate, as some argue that there is no reason that anyone needs an M-16 or an AK-47. And first-graders don't need ice cream and soccer moms don't need Ford Excursions.
Want is a whole other issue.
And what the gun banners want is to make a legal product illegal so the question of what gun-rights folks want becomes moot.
"These guns are not for duck hunting; they are weapons of outlaw terror" -- the Los Angeles Times again.
Talk about your hyperbole. But then, the writer probably doesn't understand that, regardless of how one parses the phrase about "a well-regulated militia," the Second Amendment is about the fundamental right of self-defense and not duck hunting.
Jill "J.R." Labbe is a senior editorial writer and columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
This writer does understand.
Jill Labbe is one of the good gals. She needs some encouragement from time to time - so do your duty [:D]