Tuesday, December 29, 2015
"Assault Weapons" the main target of gun controlllers
The so-called assault rifle is the current main target of gun controllers. AYMK, these a center-fire, semiautomatic rifles that can accept large capacity magazines. According to the NYT:
"Variants of the AR-15 design, a civilian version of the military’s M-16 without the capacity to fire in automatic bursts, have in recent years been the highest-selling rifles in the country, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation in Newtown, Conn., the trade association for the gun industry.
Less common but also popular are models based on the AK-47, the Soviet-designed assault weapon that is widely used worldwide. Both designs are off patent and produced by dozens of companies. story
American sales of these rifles, as indicated by production plus net imports, reached 1.5 million in 2012, far higher than in any previous year, according to foundation estimates." [Sales are going up again rapidly as talk of bans spreads].
"Sales have remained brisk over the last three years and appear to have surged in recent months, suggesting that more than 10 million “modern sporting rifles,” as the foundation has sought to rename them, are in circulation in the United States." [Total worldwide production of AK-47's is probably around 100 million. There will be a plentiful supply for smugglers. They are also widely in use in Mexico by the cartels.]
"With semiautomatic rifles and pistols so ubiquitous, many gun control advocates now place a higher priority on measures like expanded background checks, to help keep guns out of the wrong hands, than on pursuing a ban on particular designs.
At the same time, many [incl. the NYT] remain convinced that some restrictions on the weapons would be worthwhile, especially a limit on magazines larger than 10 rounds, which could slightly slow down a mass killer."
Defining an assault weapon in the civilian market has always been difficult. Starting in 1994, Congress banned sales of semiautomatic assault weapons, defined as those with a detachable magazine and any two of several traits defined as military features, like pistol grips and folding stocks on rifles and second grips on the barrels of handguns. Also banned were magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
But the law expired in 2004 and was not renewed, as opposition to gun control hardened and as no strong evidence emerged to indicate it had reduced gun violence.
Now, seven states have similar bans, including California. But gun manufacturers have adapted their designs to comply with the laws; the two AR-15 models used by the attackers in San Bernardino, Calif., this month were not banned, although the 30-round magazines the killers used are illegal in the state.
Democratic proposals now before Congress would be somewhat more restrictive than the previous federal ban. They would prohibit sales of semiautomatic rifles and pistols that combine detachable magazines with only one other “military feature” from a list of physical traits and, again, would prohibit magazines holding more than 10 rounds."
It is a sad symptom of our national polarization that calls to ban guns only increase gun sales, and that some want to control what others believe is a constitutional right. This is a situation fraught with danger if confiscation laws are passed. A ban on new sales and production is not enough for some. The NYT and others want confiscation of all such weapons, even those currently legally owned. One gun owner opined, “there’s a sizable population out there that would see it as a call to revolution.” I think a confiscation program could spur domestic terrorism. We need to think long and hard about confiscation and the civil liberties violations that may accompany such programs.