Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The Denver Post has an op-ed supporting the extension of the Assault Weapons Ban.

"...millions of other people support reasonable federal gun control and believe law-abiding citizens can exercise their Second Amendment rights without keeping and trading assault weapons designed for nothing more than killing a lot of people in a short amount of time."

They seem to fail to understand that the second amendment prohibits federal gun laws. Also they fail to realize that many people use "assault weapons" for purely recreational purposes such as target shooting & competitive shooting.

"An AK-47 rifle was used in the recent killing of a 15-year-old boy and wounding of three teenage girls when gunmen opened fire on a packed New Orleans school gym. A TEC-9 was used in the Columbine High School massacre"

They fail to understand that murder is illegal, as is taking a firearm onto school property, as is possession of a firearm by a minor. Since these murders happened after the passage of the assault weapons ban I think it undermines their point to mention them, as the ban did nothing to prevent these crimes. Then again no gun control law that I'm aware of has ever prevented someone who was determined to commit a crime, such a murder. & the murderer in Louisiana that was mentioned was in fact a member of a gang who was retaliating against a member of a rival gang, the 15 year old victim.

"Many Second Amendment defenders argue that, while our country is under the threat of terrorist attacks and engaged in war, American citizens should be able to arm themselves with assault weapons. This logic escapes us."

Of course it escapes them: they disagree with the idea that citizens should not be prohibited from protecting themselves against criminals so obviously protection against foreign invasion or tyrannical government is beyond their comprehension.

"The weapons ban was put into place to save us from ourselves, if you will. It is designed to keep weapons with unusual firepower off the streets so that police won't be outgunned and to help reduce the number of innocent victims in the line of fire when someone decides to shoot up a school or a workplace."

That's not entirely true: the school shootings that they mentioned earlier happened after the Assault Weapons Ban was passed. 'Assault weapons' have been used in fewer than 1% of all crimes so the threat to public safety was negligible at the time of passing. The Assault Weapons Ban mainly deals with cosmetic features on certain arms. It does not deal with the design or function, so many firearms are still available which are functionally & mechanically identical to those banned . The only real difference is aesthetics. There is no unusual firepower that these prohibited arms possess. They simply 'look scarier'.
They fail to understand that if schools & workplaces were not places where most arms are prohibitied then their appeal for mass murderers would be diminished as their victims would not be defensless. Most of these shootings happen where there are no firearms available for defense, therefore they can do what they wish with impunity. There have been two school shootings which were stopped thanks to individuals running to their cars (which were parked off campus to comply with the law) & retrieving their firearms to use them in order to subdue the shooters.

"As for fighting terrorism, several branches of the military and law enforcement are assigned to do that. Police also have enhanced firepower to protect the masses. There is no reason to now arm citizens with assault weapons to fight this enemy."

They fail to understand that the police & military cannot protect the individuals. They also fail to understand that the police & military's record of fighting terrorism is not something that inspires confidence. In fact the police have been more likely to commit violence against the citizen ( i.e. Waco, Ruby Ridge, Omayra Soberal) than to prevent it. As far as terrorism is concerned, the police could not do anything ot prevent the attacks of September the 11th, 2001. I do not think that we should simply sit back & rely on the police to protect us, especially based upon their record.

They fail to comprehend that the reason the federal government is prohibited from making gun control laws by the second amendment is that the citizens should always be able to protect themselves against the government, which includes but is not limited to the police & military. It is unlikely that the police &/or military will ever go door to door in an effort to round up certain citizens for extermintaion such as happened in 1940's Germany, but it is not an impossible circumstance.

"Let's be reasonable. An assault-weapons ban is not an attack on the right to bear arms. It's a reasonable gun-control measure that deserves renewal because there is no good reason for the average citizen to possess such firepower."

They fail to understand that a ban on military style weapons is an attack on the Right to own & possess arms. They also fail to understand that there is a good reason for the average citizen to possess such weapons: it is necessary for the security of the other Rights they enjoy.

Let me point out something that seems to be the source of much confusion especially in the press: the 'assault weapons' that are banned are merely cosmetically different, not functionally than other firearms which are not banned. The Assault Weapons Ban does not deal with fully automatic firearms, which continually shoot as long as you hold the trigger down & there's ammo in the gun. Those are still regulated by the NFA of '34 (Temptations sing: Federal Firearms laws are constitutionally prohibited!). The arms that are the subject of the ban are semi-automatic. They fire one shot each time you pull the trigger. If you pulled the trigger & held it back you would still fire only one shot. You must release the trigger in order to fire another shot. This is the same functioning as many non-prohibited arms, some of which are used for hunting.
The press sometimes gets the banned weapons confused with fully automatic weapons. Sometimes this is simply due to the reporters ignorance concerning the function of the respective types of weapons, other times it is intentional.

Here are the members of the Denver Post's editorial board:

"The members of The Post editorial board are William Dean Singleton, chairman and publisher; Gregory L. Moore, editor; Sue O'Brien, editorial page editor; Bob Ewegen, deputy editorial page editor; Peter G. Chronis, Angela Cortez, Dan Haley, Al Knight and Penelope Purdy , editorial writers; Mike Keefe, cartoonist; and Barbara Ellis and Susan Clotfelter, news editors."

Here is the contact information page for the Denver Post.

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