By Bruce A.
The following is taken from the NRA
Why I Joined the NRA, An NRA Member Replies
Case in point: The assault gun ban. Do you know how many crimes are
committed with semi-auto or full-auto weapons? I don't have the
exact count, (it was published recently in the American Rifleman)
but it's not many - so few, in fact, that when it happens, it's big
Data on so-called "assault weapons" come from state and local law
enforcement agencies, not FBI, but FBI does report on weapons used to kill
law enforcement officers. From FBI's most recent "Law Enforcement
Officers Killed and Assaulted" report (1993): during the previous decade
about 2-3% of law enforcement officers feloniously killed in the line of
duty were killed with "assault weapons."
The following is from the
NRA Firearms Fact Sheet, 1995:
Based upon preliminary data for 1994 and the first part of 1995, 130
officers were killed with firearms; sufficient information provided to
determine whether the firearm was an assault weapon in about 80 cases. Of
these, assault weapons used in 15; other firearms included small,
low-caliber semi-auto pistols, .410 shotguns, target pistols, etc. Some
medium and large-caliber semi-auto pistols were used. ... FBI reports:
73% of officers' murderers have prior arrests, 56% prior convictions, 23%
on probation or parole at the time of the killing.
- No legally-owned full auto firearm has ever been used in a violent
crime by a civilian. Semi-autos are very difficult to convert to full
auto and such conversion is a federal felony. Semi-autos which are "easy
to convert" are not approved by the BATF for sale to the public.
- Data from states and big cities show that military look-alikes
constitute 0-3% of guns used in crime and constitute only 1.5% of guns
seized by police. Rifles, including semi-autos, are involved in only 3%
- BATF traces tell
nothing about the types of guns used by criminals,
since only 1% of guns used in violent crimes are traced, and even that 1%
is not randomly selected. (Congressional Research Service)
Historically, the restrictions and bans on cheap handguns ("suicide
specials" or "Saturday night specials" or whatever) have been racially
based. It has been a good way to keep guns out of the hands of Blacks and
other minorities without explicitly stating that that is what one wants
to do. This is because such weapons are often the only ones which Blacks,
and the poor in general, can afford. Considering that the crime rates in
minority neighborhoods tend to be higher than in white neighborhoods, it
seems clear to me that the residents need the means to defend themselves
even more than does society in general. Targeting them, directly or
indirectly, to deprive them of these means, is something that I would not
touch with a ten-foot pole (nor with one of any other length), even if I were of
a mind to restrict law-abiding people's access to guns. You might find
the article "The
Racist Roots of Gun Control" interesting. I have read another article
on the subject, "Laws Designed
To Disarm Slaves, Freedmen, and African-Americans", which is mostly summaries
of these race laws, including statements regarding the race-related aspects of
the gun control law of 1968. It's fascinating.
Now, what kind of weapon are these predominantly urban kids using?
Not AR-15's or street-sweepers, that's for certain. They are, in
fact, using the eternally prefered weapon of the urban poor - cheap
These are the weapons that even the NRA doesn't like to talk about;
It is possible to make a case that those
restrictions need to be re-examined with an eye to making cheap
pistols less available to minors (how about some kind of sliding tax
that boosts the price of all pistols to say, a minimum of $250
dollars, or a heavy tax on ammunition.)
This is what most of the
gun control movement says. But in practice it
is one "reasonable" proposal, and a call for compromise, then another,
and more calls for compromise, then another, and so forth. It is really
banning guns by inches.
Michael Heinz email@example.com
Jonathan Wallace responds:
First off, let me say that we agree on many things. I am not arguing
for a complete gun ban in America, or even a complete handgun ban.
At first blush, I like the idea of making handguns expensive enough
that kids can't afford them. At second thought, though, there may be
an equal protection issue here. I don't think you can tax the
exercise of a constitutional right in such a way that only the
wealthy can afford it. Imagine if I had to pay $250 an issue to
publish the Spectacle, for example.
I would prefer to keep it as a matter of principle, too, but when one
tries to do that, you or someone else in favor of gun control says "Look
at all of the people that are being killed by XXX weapon," and statistics
are the only answer for that. In fact, there are a minuscule number of
people being killed by "assault weapons", and even that data is hard to
come by. As for semi-automatic weapons in general, the data, real, hard
data, just isn't there to say that there are lots of people being killed
by them. Unless you are saying that if even one person is killed by some
nut, all weapons like that used by the nut must be banned, then I think
you are obligated to look at and consider the statistics. Yes, this
sounds off-hand like cost-benefit analysis, but I think there is a
distinction. If you try to pass enough laws and ban enough "dangerous"
things to protect every person from every possibly act of every possible
lunatic or criminal, then you will put all of society in prison. If you
are not saying this, then you must decide how much is enough to warrant
overriding a fundamental right, and to make such a decision, you must
look at the statistics.
Where I think you go off the track is in insisting on looking at the
semi-automatic issue as a statistical issue. I don't care what
percentage of national crime is committed with these weapons.
And if there had been someone present with a
concealed weapon, he or she could probably have prevented all or most of it.
... And if these embittered
loners had been unable to use semiautomatics in their carnage, there
is a good chance they would have managed to kill fewer people.
I can't understand why all of the blame gets heaped on a mass of inert
material and not on the person using it. When the United States bombed
Cambodia during the Vietnam War, were people demonstrating against the
bombs themselves or agains Nixon who ordered the strikes? So why the
double standard? Like many other tools, they are only dangerous in the
wrong hands. To me, it is morally wrong to punish the innocent and take
away something which they find important (regardless of what you think
of it) because of the acts of the guilty.
Some of the anti-gun groups make what I think is a sensible
argument: guns are consumer products. If a type of heater, due to
its design, regularly electrocuted babies, we'd stop selling it. But
it seems to be a very difficult thing in America to stop selling a
type of gun that can really only be used for mass murder.