A few days after the unspeakable tragedy at Sandy Hook elementary, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein announced that she would introduce legislation to ban assault weapons at the start of the 113th session of Congress.
“I’m going to introduce in the Senate and the same bill will be introduced in the House, a bill to ban assault weapons. It will ban the sale, the transfer, the importation and the possession. Not retroactively but prospectively. And it will ban the same for big clips, drums or strips of more than 10 bullets. So there will be a bill. We’ve been working on it now for a year,” Feinstein said on NBC’s “Meet The Press.”
There are several reasons why this proposed ban on assault weapons will be completely ineffectual in its apparent goal to curb gun violence in the United States or prevent another disaster like those in Sandy Hook and Aurora last year.
1. Most gun killings in the United States do not occur with assault weapons.
According to data from the FBI, 71% of firearm murders in the United States occurred with a handgun in 2009. More murders were committed with bare hands (801) than with rifles (348). The Virginia Tech shooting (the worst in American history) was done with two handguns. Unfortunately for anti-gun activists, the Supreme Court has twice ruled that banning handguns would be unconstitutional.
2. Adam Lanza (or anyone else) could have performed his massacre just as easily with a handgun
The most poorly thought out provision of Feinstein’s future bill is the portion that bans clips of more than ten bullets. In the case of Adam Lanza, this means that he would still be able to kill ten children before any unarmed person would likely be able to stop him. Lanza’s target of choice, a child of either six or seven years, is just as easily killed with a handgun or an AK-47. The difference between a handgun and an assault rifle when targeting almost any human being is similar to the difference between a pack of dynamite and an atomic bomb when trying to destroy a doghouse, both get the job done with incredible ease.
3. Even if assault weapons were the problem, the ban does nothing to stop potential criminals from using the millions of assault weapons already on the streets.
Rather, the only thing the law (or any gun ban) would do is take these weapons out of the hands of responsible citizens. There are about 300 million guns in circulation in America today, almost one for every single person, and a well made gun can remain functional for almost a century after it is made (ever shoot grandpa’s old hunting rifle when you were a kid?). The history of banning any kind of product that people want shows us that people who really want it will break laws to get it. If a man like Adam Lanza was contemplating going on a killing spree at a local elementary school, chances are he wouldn’t have too many qualms about buying a gun illegally. And as we see with Marijuana today and saw with alcohol prohibition in the past, black markets open up to make illegal products easily accessible to people who want them.
So any gun restriction will not stop criminals from getting guns. A restriction would, however, stop responsible citizens from obtaining weapons they could possibly use to stop a gun crime they are witness to. Gun control advocates seem to always imagine the worst-case scenario when they think of more civilians being armed. Yes, well meaning bystanders could make a situation like the Aurora or Newtown shootings worse when they take out a weapon of their own, but when a man begins to open fire into a crowded theater, how much worse can the situation get? Responsible citizens can be trained to use guns in precisely these types of situations.
Imagine how a scenario like the one portrayed in this video, which was made as a sort of how-to manual for surviving a shooting event. Imagine how different it may have been had different if a few of the workers were able to defend themselves with guns instead of chairs and staplers like the video instructs. Analogies do not equal data, but also consider this incident where a 71-year-old man armed with a handgun was able to stop two robbers, one of whom appears to be brandishing a shotgun. In these scenarios, even if police are called immediately, it is impossible for them to respond to situations like this before a criminal is able to hurt someone. It is not unreasonable to believe that citizens like the old man in the video could prevent crimes.
In a recent on-air rant, CNN host Piers Morgan demonstrated the close-minded emotional response that many gun control activists have toward the problem, “how many more kids have to die before you guys say we want less guns, not more?” he barked at dissenting guests on his show. There is no clear-cut or easy solution to gun violence in America. But we must approach this delicate problem with reason instead of emotion and thoughtless tag lines like “demand a plan!” and “more guns are NOT the answer!”