Saturday, August 8, 2009

Assault Weapon Ban reinstatement by Barack Obama?

Assault Weapon Ban Reinstatement

There has been an uproar of controversy over the reinstatement of the Assault Weapon ban. The Assault Weapon ban of 1994 was a 10 year ban that prohibited a variety of military-style assault weapons and large capacity feeding devices. Theses so called assault weapons should not be outlawed again. Despite the term “assault weapon,” these firearms are used for recreational shooting and peace of mind to those that have them. Criminals will always have weapons, it only makes sense that everyday people have them to defend themselves. Without the ban, it’s not like a criminal can even legally buy them. A person must be over the age of 18, have no criminal record, and must fill out appropriate paperwork. The ban was a form of violation of the Second Amendment because it took firearms out of the hands of good citizens even though criminals would surely still have them. However, the legislation on high capacity feeding devices should be altered to allow higher capacity feeding devices but still have a size restriction before reinstatement.

The terminology on this topic is very loose which may be confusing to many people. First of all, a large capacity feeding device refers to a magazine. Magazines hold the bullets of repeating firearms and produce them as the trigger of a firearm is pulled. A magazine can either be fixed or detachable, though detachable magazines are often inappropriately referred to as “clips.” Detachable magazines can be taken off when empty and replaced by a full magazine, fixed do not come off. Assault weapons covered in the ban include any semiautomatic rifle or pistol that can accept a detachable magazine with multiple military-style features and any semi-auto shotgun that has multiple military like feature. Military like features can include flash suppressors, threaded barrels, etc. Semi-automatic weapons should not be confused with fully automatic. Semi-automatic firearms produce one to a few bullets every time the trigger is pulled while an automatic weapon will not cease firing until ammunition is out or until the trigger is released. Full auto weapons have been very highly regulated to the point of being borderline illegal since the 1930’s.

People use assault weapons all the time for recreational use; for shooting practice in designated ranges and for hunting. Certain features banned are features very conducive to good sportsmanship. For example, a hunter in the woods may have a gun with the multiple military-like features such as a scope and a tripod in order to polish his/her hunting skills. If caught, that person could face a $5,000 fine or up to 5 years in prison and never be allowed to own a gun again just for trying to be better at a given sport. There is nothing harmful about semiautomatic weapons with military-features when they are used in controlled environments. Many people, myself included, enjoy going to a shooting range to practice our skills. Yes, people can start with the small guns but those grow boring pretty fast. Once you master them you are ready to master a bigger better device. It’s about having the ability to aim and shoot not the ability to unleash terror. I know I don’t intend to take the skills I’ve honed at the shooting range to shoot up a college with any weapon, much less an AR-15 or M16. It’s all in good fun for those that know how to use them in an ethical and appropriate manner.

Many people are frightened by large weapons. The assault weapon ban was meant to help reassure those people that these big scary guns are kept away from criminals; away from the people that don’t know how to use them and who will use them for misdeeds. The honest truth is that criminals will have heavy firepower no matter what laws are in place. The only thing that really happens is that law abiding citizens aren’t allowed to have them and therefore are out armed by the criminals. Good people are left defenseless. What could also happen is that law abiding citizens are made into criminals when they decide they must defend themselves. When they decide that they want a real weapon to reassure them instead of a dinky gun they are forced to do it behind the backs of law enforcement. And if they don’t, they leave themselves susceptible to attacks by criminals more heavily armed than they are. If criminals know that their targets COULD have heavier firepower than they do (or at least are evenly matched) then it makes sense that they’d be less likely to take the risk. Who wants to go try to rob someone’s house and find the barrel of a spiffed up AK47 aimed right between their eyes, really?

As for high capacity feeding devices, the ban prohibited any detachable feeding device that could hold more than ten rounds and any semi-auto shotgun that had a fixed capacity of more than five rounds. There are magazines that can hold 100 rounds! 100 bullets can do a lot of damage regardless of whose hands they’re in, especially a criminal’s. That being said, there should definitely be a restriction on high capacity magazines. However, the term “high capacity” should be redefined. Ten is too small of a number to be productive recreationally. Believe me, nothing is worse than having your sites aimed perfectly, shooting ten perfect shots, having to reload, and then realizing now can’t make a decent shot worth a damn. So, if ten is too low and 100 is too high a middle ground should be decided upon. This way, a sportsman has a chance to improve skills without having to constantly reload while a perpetrator has to reload more often than with a very high capacity mag.

By taking away weapons that pose no real threat when used correctly, the government is violating the Second Amendment right to bear arms. It’s just one of those rights that cannot be infringed upon without people having a cow. We know that if something that was considered an inalienable right is taken away we have no hope as a free nation. The hubbub isn’t so much about the firearms themselves but more about the immense power it’d mean the government ha if they could pull off taking away something that is in the U.S. Bill of Rights. The fundamentals have to be there for good just so Americans have the constancy and the assurance that so many of us need.

The Assault Weapon ban was no good in 1994 and it’s no good now. The people that shouldn’t have weapons will always have them. Why in the world would we leave the people that have the right to have guns in harm’s way? Is that really the point? No, of course it’s not the intent but it’s the inevitable result. Plus it’s like taking away a person’s hobby. Some people really enjoy being able to shoot anything, including assault weapons. The government doesn’t keep people from doing martial arts or basket weaving or any other hobby that is harmless when used in an appropriate capacity. Banning certain weapons is the same concept; they aren’t dangerous in most cases. Limiting the number of rounds a person can have in their magazine to a reasonable number would only entail a little bit of a restriction but a possible increase in safety. It seems like a fair trade off. Ultimately though, before reinstatement, the Assault Weapon ban needs to be clarified and edited.

Works Cited

Markowitz, David. UNDERSTANDING THE FEDERAL "ASSAULT WEAPONS" BAN. 4 April 2000. Web. 29 May 2009.

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