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Reply #80: Good questions [View All]

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krispos42 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Mar-22-09 03:32 AM
Response to Reply #38
80. Good questions
More intelligent than are usually asked. I'll make an attempt to answer in an equally good manner.

1. The term "assault weapon" is arbitrary. As originally defined under Federal law in 1993, it included certain types of handguns, shotguns, and rifles. Basically, a firearm was an "assault weapon" if it was semi-automatic, had a detachable magazine (rifle or handgun only) and had more than two items from a list of features. Such features included protruding pistol grips, bayonet lugs, telescoping/folding buttstocks, flash surpressors, and rifle-grenade launchers. Since the features were largely cosmetic or ergonomic, it was fairly easy to modify firearms to fit the ban. Grind off a bayonet lug or weld a folding metal stock in the extended position and *blammo*, now it's not an assault weapon anymore. Observe, please, current-production California-legal AR-15s.

However, let's go with what people generally think of when they hear "assault weapon". They think of a semiautomatic version of an AK-47 or AR-15. Okay, then, both of those guns are rifles. Rifles account for less than 3% of homicides a year in this country. With 17,000 a year in America (a historically low figures, by the way), that's less than 500 per year. And this includes all rifles... semiautos, bolts, levers, etc.

So, assuming that 0% of murders of which an AK-47 or AR-15 was used were not simply done by another weapon (handgun, shotgun, knife, blunt object) then you're talking about maybe a 2% homicide reduction.

2. Media hype to the contrary, high-body-count shootings are very uncommon, although I freely admit that it seems to have been ramping up a bit in the past 18 months or so. Regardless, 95% of all dead bodies are from single-victim homicide incidents. 30 years ago, when the homicide rate was twice what it is now, it was 97%.

I made this chart from DoJ statistics.

3. The style of argument that you make is similar to the ones the reich-wing did in the wake of the Sept. 11th attacks, and that we still find to this day rife in the media. "How many bodies will it take before you realize that we have to curtail _________ rights?" I don't buy it for warrantless domestic wiretapping, or "enemy combatant" classifications, or indefinate detentions, or torture... and I don't buy it here either.

4. Republicans would LOVE Dems to try to ban certain types of guns again. I'm pretty sure the idea makes people like Karl Rove all hot and bothered down in the codpiece area.

5. It's been tried overseas. In 1988, after a mass shooting, the UK banned and confiscated what we would commonly call "assault weapons". In 1997, after another mass shooting, the UK banned and confiscated handguns. They also added 4.4 million public-area police-monitored surveillence cameras. Here's the result:

The UK rate has about doubled, while ours is a bit more than half. It used to be about 12 US murders to 1 UK murder (on a per-capita basis), now it's about 4:1. We're getting better, they're getting worse. However, GUN homicides are at a very low rate... less than 60 people shot to death in the UK last year.

Banning the owership of green-painted automobiles in the US would definately eliminate green-painted-automobile-related deaths and injuries. But any politician who said that the ban made the streets safer would be laughed off the stage.

6. Most crime, especially street crime, is driven by social and economic conditions. Treating it as a hardware problem instead of a problem of insane puritanical laws or the destruction of the New Deal is a cop-out way of avoiding the real issues.

7. If the Dems are going to go down in flames in 2010 for passing a sweeping federal law, I'd much rather it be for liberalizing our drug laws or universal single-payer healthcare. Those would actually do far more, IMO, to quell violent crime and poverty than cosmetic restrictions on guns.

8. The highest body counts in mass shootings seem to be from handguns. Virginia Polytech, for example, was done with handguns. Columbine was done with shotguns and handguns. The Northern Illinios shooting was with a shotgun. The church shooting in Tennessee (I think) was with a shotgun. The shooting at Macy's last year in Chicago was done with a handgun.
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