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The Assault Weapons Ban: How Silly Was It?

Revisiting the comically incompetent law which President Obama wishes to reinstate.

by
Bob Owens

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December 19, 2012 - 12:00 am
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(President Barack Obama announced Tuesday that he is “actively supporting” a proposal to reinstate a ban on so-called “assault weapons.” In addition, he supports a ban on the sale of firearms from one person to another without federal involvement which gun-control groups have dubbed a “gun show loophole,” and a ban on standard-capacity magazines for rifles, pistols, and shotguns. Instead, he would impose an arbitrarily determined ten-round limit to magazines.

California Democrat Dianne Feinstein — who carried a concealed weapons permit while calling for disarming American citizens — is once again promising to introduce an “assault weapons” ban in the U.S. Senate. New York Senator Chuck Schumer also hoped to push for the ban.

Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen doubts the effectiveness of such “knee jerk” decisions, and columnist Charles Krauthammer noted that the last attempt had “no appreciable influence on gun violence or the lethality of individual attacks.”

Which camp is right?

The following article is a reposting of a July 6, 2011 two-part article detailing the dramatic failure of the assault weapons ban.)

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U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, February 26, 2009:

As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.

The fabled “assault weapons ban.”

Few laws ever passed have been as idolized — and misunderstood — as Title XI of the Federal Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, Subtitle A (the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act).

To listen to the Obama administration, the media, or the nominated head of the ATF spin it, the ban made it illegal to purchase machine guns, and outlawed the ownership or use of high-capacity magazines, saving billions, perhaps trillions, of lives.

That mischaracterization is as wrong as it is laughable. The law had nothing to do with machine guns and real military-issue assault rifles, and did nothing to measurably impact violent crime.

The purpose of the law was to ban the sale and importation of certain semi-automatic (one bullet fired per trigger pull) firearms by name, and a wider group of firearms that had an arbitrarily selected list of  largely cosmetic features. These features did not affect the rate of fire, accuracy, or range of the firearms impacted. Firearms were determined to be “assault weapons” – a term that was created by the law itself – if it had two or more of the following features:

Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

  1. Folding or telescoping stock
  2. Pistol grip
  3. Bayonet mount
  4. Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
  5. Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device which enables the launching or firing of rifle grenades)

Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:

  1. Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
  2. Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
  3. Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold
  4. Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
  5. A semi-automatic version of an automatic firearm

Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:

  1. Folding or telescoping stock
  2. Pistol grip
  3. Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds
  4. Detachable magazine

It was a law passed by lawmakers who desired to “do something,” but who didn’t have the expertise or intelligence to pass a law with any real meaning or measurable impact. It resulted in a 10-year timeframe where this …

…  was an “assault weapon,” but this …

… was not.

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The Assault Weapons Ban was merely a little part title XI subtitle A of the aggressive offense Control and Law Enforcement Act. The Act created a flowchart for classifying assault weapons and subjected weapons that met that organization to directive. Assault Weapons Ban expired on September 13, 2004, as element of the law's sunset condition. There have been manifold attempts to renovate the ban but no statement has reached the House floor for a vote. https://www.facebook.com/swordsswords
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