Gun legislation not a guaranteed solution

(Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons)

(Photo Courtesy of Flickr Commons)

In the Newtown, CT shooting, Adam Lanza used three firearms to kill 27 people including himself.

His XM-15 rifle has received the majority of the media’s attention and reignited the American gun debate. For years, the defining cause of the modern gun control movement has been the restriction of assault weapons, a class to which the sinister XM-15 belongs.

However, assault weapons are not so simple to classify, and their regulation is not as ‘common sense’ as it appears. Linguistically, an important distinction must be made. An assault rifle is a select fire, intermediate cartridge rifle with a detachable magazine.

An assault weapon, under the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), is a semi-automatic rifle that possesses several cosmetic features of assault rifles. Much of the fear mongering about assault weapons stems from this simple distinction.

Assault rifles are military-issued rifles while many firearms are technically assault weapons, principally rifles but also shotguns and handguns.

All of the features qualifying an assault weapon, except the rare grenade launcher, were cosmetic, and do little to actually make a weapon more dangerous.

The XM-15 used in Sandy Hook, for example, could not be used in some states to hunt big game due to its low power.

Bans on assault weapon are popular because the term is essentially loaded, but it is ultimately meaningless.

The AWB was a monstrous legislation, unclear in purpose, stumbling in execution and completely failing to make any meaningful impact on crime rates while punishing people who just wanted to own guns.

Even efforts to make a stronger new ban are ultimately flawed by the statistical ineffectiveness of gun control in general and the rarity of assault weapons in crime.

Unfortunately, there is extreme difficulty in studying the impact of the AWB as a National Research Council review stated, the percentage of assault weapons used in crimes is very small.

On The Wendy Williams Show, journalist Nicole Lapin asserted that, had Lanza only had his handguns, he could not have killed so many people. However, the Virginia Tech shooting—the largest school shooting in American history—was carried out exclusively with handguns.

The largest school attack in the United States was carried out with bombs, not guns, in 1927, when guns were not controlled.

The simple and unfortunate fact is that madmen and murderers will always be around and will always find ways to kill, regardless of the law. There is ample evidence, however, that other, broader types of gun control in the United States have failed.

The 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, for example, was a demonstrable failure, with the American Medical Association’s analysis stating they found no evidence the Brady Bill was seriously associated with a fall in homicide rates, indeed, California, not subject to the bill and passing no major gun control laws of its own between 1991 and 1998, had a drop in gun crime much larger than other states.

A number of serious reviews of gun control measure have been published, and the vast majority have seen little to no impact on crime stemming from legislation.

A number have actually found an inverse relationship with decreasing gun ownership and tolerance leading to an increase in crime.

Mass shootings are always tragic, but the immediate emotional reaction to legislate, forbid and force compliance on citizens is doomed to fail.

Even worse, gun control undermines essential rights.  Whether enumerated in constitutions or not, citizens have the same right to guns as to other property.

Misinformation and transparent fear about assault weapons and firearms has led to a glut of terrible laws and media witch hunts.

The truth of the debate is that laws will never really hamper the criminal and the violent, and that gun control has been ineffective.

letters@thecord.ca

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