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Should gun ban be extended?

The "daily local", a PA paper, has a truly awful "news" story about the Assault Weapons Ban. It provides some good targets for activism. And the comments are absolutely wonderful.

"I think it?s something to consider," said U.S. Rep. Jim Gerlach, R-6th, of West Pikeland. "I want to see what a final bill would look like." One House bill would provide a straight 10-year extension of the assault weapons ban. Another measure has been introduced that would outlaw more firearms, said Gerlach. He added that Congress could vote on the bill when lawmakers return to Washington, D.C., in September. "Law enforcement feels it?s been effective," said Gerlach, "so that?s good feedback to have."

The only problem with this: the bill hasn't been effective and even the anti-gun groups agree with that assessment. If you want to contact Gerlach to tell him he's wrong, here is his contact information. You won't be able to email him, since his website is not exactly the height of sophistication. But you can use "Pennsylvania" and "19343" in the email tool. There's suggested text at the bottom.

Of course, it's not surprising that a politician would believe that law enforcement feels the ban has been effective. Why? Seems the Pennsylvania Old Boys Network Chiefs of Police Association told him they wanted it to pass. It's easy for a politician to misinterpert that as the ban being "effective". But then, their spokesman tells lies to the press, so he probably tells lies to politicians too:

"If the ban is lifted, people will be able to purchase fully automatic weapons, and they will be able to use those automatic weapons," he said. "It could jeopardize the lives of the public or police officers or others."

Well, except for the minor matter that fully-automatic weapons aren't affected by the law. The ban covers semi-automatic firearms only.

Easttown Police Chief Thomas Armstrong, who said the statewide police chiefs? resolution to support continuing the ban was decided by a close vote, also favors its renewal.

If it was a close vote, why couldn't the paper find a single police chief who opposed renewal?

"They?re not hunting weapons," he said. "They?re for one purpose and one purpose alone, and that?s to kill people."

Sometimes you gotta. The second amendment is not about duck hunting.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, the 19 guns covered by the Assault Weapons Act are semiautomatic versions of fully automatic guns designed for military use. Military features of these weapons enhance their capacity to shoot multiple targets rapidly, said the Washington, D.C.-based organization, allowing shooters to fire 20 to more than 100 rounds without reloading.

No piece of shrilly biased "journalism" would be complete without a lie from the Brady Campaign. The ban covers a lot more than 19 firearms. But since the Brady statement contradicts their police chief earlier, why didn't they challenge one or the other? I'm not sure if their bias is showing, or if their editors are blind. Perhaps both.

"We never really had a problem here in Chester County," said Franciscus, who has been a county law enforcement officer for 29 years. "But that doesn?t mean there wouldn?t be."

So, in 29 years, you've never had an assault weapon problem. Two-thirds of that time was not covered by the ban. Why do you think you would suddenly have problems if the ban expires?

Armstrong, who said local police officers occasionally encounter armed individuals, agreed. "I don?t think there?s any reason that the general public needs that type of weapon," he said.

Individuals armed with assault weapons? Or just armed? For that matter, what's wrong with being armed -- after all, I am sometimes armed, and I haven't hurt anyone. Criminals, on the other hand, don't obey gun laws.

As for whether the general public needs "that type of weapon"... the nobility sure do like their privileges.

A November NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll indicated that 78 percent of adults who were surveyed nationwide said the ban should be renewed.

"We feel, along with 80 percent of the public, the weapons have no place in America?s communities," said Eric Howard, a Brady Campaign spokesman. "You end up spraying dozens of bullets back and forth indiscriminately. We?ve just seen so many tragic consequences of that over the years."

Did you tell them what the law did before you asked them to render a policy opinion? Thought not. Even police chiefs don't understand what the ban actually bans, how should the average citizen have any idea?

In 1984, the Brady Campaign said, a man used an UZI assault pistol and a shotgun to kill 21 people and wound 19 others at a San Ysidro, Calif., McDonald?s.

At the 1993 Branch-Davidian standoff in Waco, Texas, the organization said, four Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives special agents were killed and 16 others were wounded with an arsenal of more than 170 assault weapons. According to a federal affidavit, the weapons were purchased legally from gun dealers and at gun shows.

When the Brady Bunch says "over the years", they mean it. One incident in 1984? Blaming Waco on assault weapons, rather than the BATF and FBI idiots? Please.

However, since the 1994 ban, said Howard, the number of semiautomatic weapons that have been traced to crime has decreased by 66 percent.

Yeah -- from a little under 3% to a little over 1%. Not that the decline is actually statistically significant.

Terrorists can go to gun shows and purchase assault weapons that were manufactured before 1994 in states that do not require background checks, [The Brady Campaign] said.

Gee, half of this article was written by the Brady Bunch. What a surprise. But with respect to that specific claim: Sure, they can do that. Have they? Apparantly not. They've used boxcutters. Would renewing the ban change the fact that terrorists can buy legal weapons from private owners (if they can convince the private owner that they are not actually a terrorist)? No. Pre-ban firearms and magazines would still be available at gun shows from private sellers.

But even if that wasn't the case, terrorists could buy a new firearm that lacks the banned features. Since the banned features are generally cosmetic, rather than functional, they won't be inconvenienced much. Unless they were planning a bayonet charge or something.

The Assault Weapons Act specifically exempts 661 sporting rifles and shotguns traditionally used for hunting.

I thought it only covered 19 guns?

Lobbyists with the National Rifle Association and some of its members have attacked the assault weapons legislation as being too vague and lacking enforcement.

Too vague? Not really. Too silly is more like it. Heard about any drive-by bayonetings lately? No?

Lacking enforcement? What enforcement is required? Manufacturers stopped making them, and retooled their factories to make legal versions without the silly cosmetic features that got Feinstein so worried.

It's clear this "journalist" didn't even bother to contact the NRA; she just wrote what she thinks they always say about gun laws.

Clem Rost of Delaware County, a member of Treetop Sportsmen, also opposes the ban. He said the ban "outlaws guns on cosmetic features." In addition, he said, some of the banned weapons are used in government-sponsored rifle competitions. "They are a minuscule portion of guns that are actually used in crime," Rost said. "They are very, very difficult, if not impossible, to own."

This is the token pro-gun opinion, tacked like an afterthought on the bottom of the story where no one will read it.

Mr Gerlach,

I understand that you told the Daily Local News that you would be willing to consider renewing the assault weapons ban once you saw the final bill. You also told them that "law enforcement feels it has been effective". But that's not true; if you read the government study[1] on the matter, you'll learn that the ban failed to reduce the average number of victims per gun murder incident, or multiple gunshot wound victims. You'll also learn that there is no evidence that the ban reduces crime in general or even crimes committed with assault weapons in particular.

If you were listening to the arguments of the Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association, as reported in the story[2], then you were lied to. The Assault Weapons Ban covers only semi-automatic firearms with certain cosmetic features, NOT fully-automatic firearms.

Fully-automatic firearms have been heavily regulated since 1934 and banned from manufacture for civilians since 1986. Legally-owned fully-automatic firearms in civilian hands have never been used in crime.



This entry was published 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0 by TriggerFinger and last updated 2005-09-24 10:43:35.0. [Tweet]

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