The so—called assault weapons ban expired on Monday, ending with a fizzle, not a bang. The Republicans did not let the proposal to extend the ban come to a vote and, if I'm correct, the Democrats will not be reloading. While there was a time when they would bang the drum relentlessly for gun—control, now it is comparatively quiet on the left front. Candidate Kerry, of course, unable to resist his self—destrctive impulses, took the opportunity to bash Bush, and complain of
'George Bush making the job of the terrorists easier and making the job for America's police officers harder.'
But the grown—ups in the party are unlikely to pursue this argument very far. Kerry's anti—gun flip, they know, would be a big flop with battleground state voters..
You see, the Democrats were cowed with respect to this issue in the 2000 election, when polling seemed to indicate that they had shot themselves in the foot in swing—states like West Virginia with their anti—Second Amendment stance. But don't be surprised by their refusal to carry the mantle of civilian disarmament in the name of conviction and at the expense of expediency, and I don't say this just because they're a lot that seldom exhibits any semblance of principled politicking. No, the fact of the matter is that the 'Assault Weapons Ban' was never about principle in the first place. It was nothing but a smoke and mirrors ploy.
The soccer [or is it sucker?] moms might be aghast that this horrible, insensitive, uncompassionate, would—let—their children—die—like—dogs—in—the—street man would be unwilling to purge anything with the word assault in its name from God's green Earth. But call me what you will, what I am not is ignorant in the matter of firearms. So allow me to dispel some myths.
The propaganda starts with the very name attached to the weapons in question, because they're not true assault weapons. In reality, the term 'assault rifle' was originated by Adolf Hitler. It was a name he gave to the MP 43, a light, fully—automatic weapon [machine—gun] that fired a relatively small round. As the story goes, Hitler was skeptical about the firearm, but after a test—firing was so enamored of the gun that he christened it the Sturmgewehr, or assault rifle.
A more recent military definition of an assault rifle described a weapon very similar to the German's invention. This definition stated that to qualify as an assault rifle a firearm must have a special—fire feature. This allows it to be fired in any of three ways: semi—automatic [one shot every time the trigger is pulled], fully—automatic [fires constantly for as long as the trigger is compressed], and in three shot bursts. Now, the government might have tried to redefine the term assault—rifle in much more recent times for the purposes of marshaling support for the banning of unfairly demonized guns, but the functionality of the weapons in question bears little resemblance to that of their namesakes.
What are the guns affected by the ban? They are simply semi—automatic weapons that either have a quintessentially martial appearance or a terminally bad reputation. However, they fire one round every time the trigger is pulled — just like any other semi—automatic gun. And bear in mind that semi—automatic technology is well over one—hundred years old and most weapons have been configured in this manner for a very long time now. What this means is that the banned guns' basic functionality is identical to that of most firearms, which, I want to emphasize, the ban never applied to.
Thinking that these faux assault—weapons are much different from other semi—automatics is a little like putting a Porsche body on a Ford Taurus chassis and thinking that you've created a faster car.
But if that's not enough for you, here's the kicker: another aspect of this phony ban is that it did nothing to reduce the availability of these weapons. To circumvent the law, all the firearm manufacturers had to do was make nonsensical alterations and in certain cases market the guns under different names. For instance, the AR—15 was simply renamed, modified superficially and then sold by companies such as Colt, ArmaLite and Bushmaster.
Moreover, something else the gun—control con artists won't tell you — usually because they know nothing about that which they presume to be qualified to legislate — is that these faux assault rifles aren't the most devastating weapons available to the public. In reality, a shotgun is much more effective in most situations and is the home—defense gun of choice for those whose knowledge of firearms isn't gleaned solely from violent Hollywood fare.
Of course, it should be obvious why the left and their accomplices in the media have dubbed these weapons assault rifles. After all, call them what they are — semi—automatic rifles — and it's 'ho—hum.' But give them an ominous name like 'assault rifles' and the left sides of the brains of millions of suburban women seize up with a fear that trumps all reason, a condition that usually induces a liberal voting pattern.
Yes, 'assault rifle' conjures up images of a miscreant with a machine—gun laying waste to our local school while frothing at the mouth. In reality, though, it's been illegal for virtually everyone in the United States to own a machine—gun since 1934. The only exceptions are individuals who are issued machine—gun licenses, which are extremely difficult to obtain.
Now, I know that many will counter that the aforementioned is all well and good, but why do we need such weapons anyway? But that is the wrong perspective, because our freedoms must not be based on needs. After all, we don't need a fast sports car or to participate in hang—gliding. No, a prerequisite for remaining a free people is that one embraces the principle that his liberties are innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the burden of proof must be on those who would take a freedom away, not on those who would retain it.
So, did the ban have any notable effects at all? Sure, it increased the cost of certain weapons and their paraphernalia for law—abiding citizens. It didn't decrease crime, though, and this isn't surprising. After all, more people are murdered with things like knives and baseball bats than with faux assault weapons. And anyway, outlaws don't follow gun laws — they shop the black market.
Half of the bottom line is that the assault—weapons ban was touted by liberals like its co—author, Dianne Feinstein, for the purposes of fooling people like you into voting for poseurs like them. It's typical, feel—good, does—no—good liberal legislation. And regardless of where you stand on gun—control, such legislative sleight of hand should anger you to the very core of your being.
The other half of the bottom line concerns another, more insidious aspect of this illusion. The gun—control propagandists welcome such phantom legislation because it's another small step toward their ultimate goal, which is the banning of all guns. And to this end they are willing to practice deception and do what all effective demagogues will: use emotional appeals and play upon the ignorance of the people. If you don't believe me, just listen to the words of one of the vanguardists in the anti—Second Amendment movement, Josh Sugarman, who is the Executive Director of the Violence Policy Center, a virulently anti—gun organization. In 1988 Mr. Sugarman stated,
The semi—automatic weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully—automatic machine guns versus semi—automatic assault weapons —— anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun —— can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
What this teaches us is that we should fear a lack of factual information a lot more than the ending of this ban. Because the availability of faux assault weapons isn't all that dangerous, but a little knowledge certainly can be.