California Senator Dianne Feinstein has introduced into the U.S. Congress proposed legislation that would ban military-style assault weapons. The weapons proposed for banning are semiautomatics, those having large magazines and that fire one round each time you pull the trigger, automatically ejecting the spent cartridge and loading the next into the chamber. You don’t have to reload until many bullets have been fired. Here’s one of them, the An Intratec TEC-DC9 with a 32-round magazine. It’s legal:
What possible civilian use can such a weapon have? Certainly not for hunting, and if you want to protect yourself or an intruder, there are handguns and rifles with smaller stores of ammo or bolt action reloading.
Sadly, the Republicans in Congress (under pressure from the National Rifle association) oppose this, and it is unlikely to pass. Other pending legislation requiring background checks of gun purchasers, including those at gun shows, has also been stalled because of Republican opposition. These two initiatives are part of President Obama’s push to tighten up gun laws and make it harder to conduct mass killings like those at Newtown. That too, will amost certainly fail. As the Los Angeles Times reports:
Although negotiations continued, no progress on background checks appeared evident in the Senate, where a bipartisan group struggled over how to broaden them. The major sticking point: whether private citizens who sell guns directly to others should be required, like licensed dealers, to keep records of the sale.
Gun rights backers warn those records could be used to create a national registry of gun owners, which they oppose.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), one of the key negotiators, said this week that any provision that required gun owners to keep records would “kill this bill.” Instead, he said, legislation should give sellers “the right and the responsibility to do the right thing” and run a background check.
Gun control advocates say that without a paper trail, it’s impossible to know whether background checks have been performed, opening a loophole for criminals to buy guns.
And without a paper trail it’s hard to trace back weapons used in assaults.
Here’s a summary of Feinstein’s Assault Weapons ban of 2013 from her website:
The legislation bans the sale, transfer, manufacturing and importation of:
- All semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: pistol grip; forward grip; folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; barrel shroud; or threaded barrel.
- All semiautomatic pistols that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature: threaded barrel; second pistol grip; barrel shroud; capacity to accept a detachable magazine at some location outside of the pistol grip; or semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.
- All semiautomatic rifles and handguns that have a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds.
- All semiautomatic shotguns that have a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock; pistol grip; fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 5 rounds; ability to accept a detachable magazine; forward grip; grenade launcher or rocket launcher; or shotgun with a revolving cylinder.
- All ammunition feeding devices (magazines, strips, and drums) capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.
- 157 specifically-named firearms (listed at the end of this page).
The legislation excludes the following weapons from the bill:
- Any weapon that is lawfully possessed at the date of the bill’s enactment;
- Any firearm manually operated by a bolt, pump, lever or slide action;
- Assault weapons used by military, law enforcement, and retired law enforcement; and
- Antique weapons.
The legislation protects hunting and sporting firearms:
The bill excludes 2,258 legitimate hunting and sporting rifles and shotguns by specific make and model.
My question is this: why is there any reason for civilians to own such weapons? They’re not for hunting, and, as I noted, you can protect yourself without huge-magazine semiautomatic weapons. They have only one use: to kill large numbers of people.
How is the possession of such weapons justified? I know that the “background-check” legislation is opposed because of the ridiculous idea that it would put America on a slippery slope, at the bottom of which is complete prohibition of all guns for civilians (something that I favor, by the way). But that argument is ridiculous: you can ban alcohol for those over 18 without that leading to a total ban on alcohol.
But are assault weapons defended with the same “slipperly slope” argument? (I doubt that, because we already have a ban on fully automatic weapons, and that hasn’t led to complete prohibition of guns.) Or is there some argument I don’t know that even a stupid Republican can offer in defense of these weapons?
The Republican Party is not only the party of the rich, but the party of mass killings. It favors a dysfunctional America, and I wouldn’t be upset if every Republican in Congress lost their seat.