The possibility of a federal assault weapons ban in the near future is only there if either the Republicans in the House all get lobotomies now or their constituents do in 2014. But politics aside, why not do something very unusual in these kinds of debates.
Let’s talk about reality.
The fact that we cannot even define an assault weapon is only one of the problems inherent in trying to ban a class of weapon in a nation where the right to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution.
Now comes the question of so-called high capacity magazines.
Just as we find it hard to ban marijuana—a weed that grows in the wild—we would find it’s very difficult to ban a box with a spring inside.
That, folks, is what a high capacity magazine is.
It would be one thing if a high capacity magazine were some kind of high tech item that takes a rocket scientist to design and a whole factory to build. But the fact is that any reasonably competent high school shop student could make one in an hour.
Further, there are already millions and millions of them in circulation. Standard issue with the World War Two era M1 was a 15 or 30 round magazine. There were something like 6.5-million M1 Carbines manufactured during the war and about a million made after the war. The government sold them to civilian marksmanship programs for something like $20, and there were millions of the magazines made to support them. And that’s only a single semi-automatic weapon on Senator Dianne Feinstein’s list.
Our experience in banning things has not been stellar.
We turned lots of people into criminals when we banned liquor and completely failed to stop its consumption during prohibition.
Billions are bet on the NFL every Sunday, and only a fraction of that is legal.
We have so many illegal immigrants in the country that, once again, we’re prepared to grant a form of amnesty so we don’t have to be in the unenviable position of deporting 11-million people.
Given this government’s track record, what makes anyone think they would even be remotely successful at banning certain kinds of weapons and their accessories already in mass circulation?
So then, we have politicians—including our own clown prince, Harry Reid—who think we can have something called a “universal background check” prior to anyone buying a gun.
It sounds reasonable. But, say I have an M1 that I want to sell to my friend. How is a background check enforceable? And even if you could figure out a way to make such a thing practical, do you really think a criminal could not gain access to a gun without going through the process?
Here’s a better idea, and I guarantee you it will work.
Pass a law on the state level in each state that the use of a gun in the commission of a felony is an automatic additional 15 years in prison over whatever sentence you get. No exceptions, no discretion.
Criminals may be criminals; but they watch the news on TV, and they read the newspaper.
If they know that using a gun nets them an additional 15 years, they will think more than once before they do.
You’re never going to stop all violent crime; but if you hit them where it hurts, you will certainly cause a major dent. And it will certainly be more effective, enforceable, and palatable than trying to take a constitutional right away from people which, even if you could get the law passed, would not apply to criminals anyway.
People who want to stop gun violence have their hearts in the right place. But their brains are several zip codes off.
Photo credit: krazydad / jbum (Creative Commons)