So I haven’t wrote a blog post in awhile, and wasn’t planning to, but this is something I think needs a bit of teasing out.
I’ve been hearing a lot of people talk about an assault weapons ban lately, and there are a few things I thought folks should know. For the record, I’m not opposed to it. Or at least not because of any ideological reasons or because it’ll impact me in any way. But I just don’t think most people know what exactly it means, or why it’s such an incredibly useless issue to obsess about.
Which, it looks like from here, is why it’s so popular among Democrat politicians. It’s a way of getting votes by pretending to take a stand on an issue that is anything but an actual stand.
So, a few facts about assault weapons:
Assault weapons are used in such a small percentage of gun homicides that they’re statistically irrelevant. That’s just a fact, and everybody knows it. Most gun homicides are committed with handguns. And by most, I mean somewhere around 80%. And 18-19% of the rest of those are committed with regular type rifles and shotguns. Nobody aware of the statistics thinks an assault weapons ban would have any effect on gun homicides, and that includes politicians. This from the New York Times: “’Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement,’ a Department of Justice-funded evaluation concluded.”
But more importantly, I think, most people who talk about assault weapons, don’t know what that means. There really is no such gun. There are assault rifles, but those are already illegal for most civilians to own, because they are capable of fully automatic fire. An assault weapon is a semi-automatic weapon, meaning one pull of the trigger fires one bullet, that is cosmetically similar to an assault rifle.
According to the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which is what most folks seem to want to renew, what makes a gun an assault weapon is a set of cosmetic features, of which you can choose one. For rifles, there are five of them:
1. A bayonet lug (which nobody uses, because bayonets are silly).
2. A flash suppressor (which looks cool, and is designed to conceal the muzzle flash of a fired weapon, but doesn’t seem like it would impact any of the active shooting scenarios we’ve seen).
3. A grenade launcher mount (this is the goofiest of the lot, because grenade launchers are very illegal already).
4. A pistol grip (this is kinda functionally irrelevant, but most people will go with this one because they’re more fun to shoot).
5. A folding or telescopic stock (useful if you’re a cop or military member who’s in and out of body armor all the time and needs to adjust the length of your stock on the fly, but most civilians will just buy a stock that fits).
That’s it for a rifle. Note that it says nothing about anything actually functional. The fact is, you’ll still be able to buy a semi-automatic military-looking rifle. You’ll just have to choose whether you’d rather have a pistol grip or a bayonet lug.
This, for instance, would still be completely legal:
Or you can spend a few bucks on aftermarket parts and swap them out so it’s exactly how you want it. The parts will still be legal and easily available, and it’ll take you almost half an hour. The final product will be illegal, but nobody will be checking. Most of these guns, like AR-15s, are infinitely and easily modifiable. That’s part of why folks like ‘em.
Now this would probably be combined with a ban on extended magazines, but those aren’t the same thing. So that means you’d only get 10 rounds, as opposed to 20 or 30. That is a functional difference. But the fact is that anybody who spends a few minutes a day practicing in front of their TV can get pretty damn quick.
And the dirty trick about extended magazine bans is that all the ones already produced will still be legal. Legal to own, and legal to buy and sell. Those number in the hundreds and hundreds of millions. The only thing the ban will do is make them cost more. And there will be an immediate proliferation of parts kits to extend your magazine to whatever capacity you want. Again, it’ll cost you a few dollars, and the end result will be illegal, but I guarantee there will be millions of people willing to take the chance, just to say they did.
And the point’s kind of moot anyways. Because, remember, these are not the guns that are used in 99% of gun homicides. And there’s no reason to believe that the few folks who do use them to kill won’t be just as happy to use all of those slightly-less-sexy but just-as-lethal guns that will still be widely available. Or that they won’t spend a few bucks and a half an hour making their gun just as sexy as they want. It being illegal will probably not be a deterrent.
Like I said, I’m not against an assault weapons ban, except in that I think the folks who are for gun control are getting sold a bill of goods. To me it looks like the left’s version of climate change denial: A political obsession that has no justification in the facts.