Fri Dec 21, 2012, 06:49 PM
Recursion (37,522 posts)
The case against an assault weapons ban [View all]
I have debated writing this OP, given both the national context and the climate on DU, but I figured that if there's little good to be done there's also no harm, and I think this is an important point.
There are three main arguments against reinstating the assault weapons ban:
1. The assault weapons ban doesn't do what you think it does
2. What you want to do isn't politically or practically feasible
3. It's politically tone-deaf and damaging
The assault weapons ban doesn't do what you think it does
There's really no way around this. If you support an AWB, you don't know what it actually did. We have Democratic legislators on record after voting about it, saying they didn't realize what it did. There are a multitude of posts on DU explaining what it actually did and I invite you to read them; in my experience there are people who already know and people who can't bring themselves to care. (Think about that: people call for a ban and explicitly say they don't care what it's actually banning. Is that a liberal POV?)
Suffice it to say that the weapon the shooter in Newtown use was not an assault weapon (Connecticut has an assault weapons ban) because it didn't not have a place to mount a bayonet. Yes, really. The ban doesn't do what you think it did, and it won't do what you think it will. I have no doubt that the innocents murdered in Newtown will be brought up in any future discussion of gun control -- and they certainly should be -- but it seems perverse to bring them up while advocating for a bill that keeps the weapon that killed them legal.
And before you say, "well, it's a start; it just didn't go far enough" let me stop you: it didn't go anywhere. It was rapid motion sideways on the scale of more or fewer gun restrictions. It made sure that the Newtown killer couldn't mount a bayonet on his rifle. It's not a serious law. It's a joke.
What you want to do isn't politically or practically feasible
So, at the risk of putting words in your mouth, what is it you want to do? For the most part, you want to ban semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazine, which you wrongly associate with meaning "rifles with matte black finishes and pistol grips". Banning these effectively would make mass shootings very difficult, on the order of impossible.
It would also be as difficult to actually do as banning alcohol and marijuana proved to be. This is technology that has been in civilian hands for over a century. This is about half of all firearms in private hands and nearly all new sales for the past several decades.
The AWB "worked" because it didn't ban guns people actually used; nobody really cares about bayonet mounts or threaded barrels. They care about having semi-automatic weapons with detachable magazines, largely for the same reasons you want to ban them: because they are effective firearms.
It's politically tone-deaf and damaging
Obviously, if that were all, the AWB would do no harm even if it does no good. Like I said, nobody actually cares about bayonet mounts. But it's politically absolutely toxic.
Think about how you feel when a conservative bloviates on a subject he knows absolutely nothing about. OK, got that irked feeling in your head? This is how our side argues on guns. How many times have you seen (or even written) "I don't ****ing care whether it's an assault rifle or an assault weapon I just want you to get rid of the death-spewing penis surrogates!"
Think about that, for a second, you've called for a ban that you don't even understand, and attack people who do understand and point out that it's a stupid law as barbarians and child-murderers despite the fact that you're the one pushing for a bill that specifically keeps the gun used in Newtown legal.
There are two levels of category errors happening on our side here. First, people think that how a rifle looks in any way indicates its capabilities. Second, you think the assault weapons ban banned any gun that looks military. These are both wrong, and people who get incredibly worked up about this one bad piece of legislation don't even bother to learn these things. (Even my friend who worked at Brady got really sick of that.)
People who own guns see that, and see that you're pushing for a law that doesn't actually do what you think it does and that you can't even be bothered to learn what it is that you're banning and get very irritated, and vote Republican. Furthermore, the legislators who take the hit from the NRA now put their gloves back on and say "well, we passed meaningful gun control legislation" and the issue is dead for the next 10 years. Nothing gets done about handguns. Nothing gets done about. Because we've burned up all of our political will on a stupid law whose entire purpose is to piss off gun owners without actually addressing gun crime. This needs to not happen again.
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The case against an assault weapons ban [View all]
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