Tuesday, July 13, 2004

The assault weapons ban should be renewed

Why you’re right:

1. An overwhelming majority of Americans support the ban. The 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey revealed that 71% of people in households without guns support the ban, as do 64% of those in households with guns. Even in households with at least one NRA member, 46% of respondents supported the ban. (The Washington Times)

2. The prohibited guns are designed specifically for killing people. The law mentions 19 semiautomatic weapons by name, none of which can be construed to have any sporting purpose. As the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has written, “Assault weapons were designed for rapid fire, close quarter shooting at human beings. That is why they were put together the way they were. You will not find these guns in a duck blind or at the Olympics. They are mass produced mayhem.” (Brady Campaign)

3. The ban has been effective. Since the implementation of the law in 1994, ATF found that the proportion of gun crime traced to the banned weapons has fallen by two-thirds. The Department of Justice study mandated by the law controlled for other variables related to the drop in violent crime and concluded that murder rates dropped nearly 7% below what they were projected to be without the ban. (Senator Feinstein’s Office, Department of Justice)

Why they’re wrong:

Assault weapons are lethal tools for crime. They have been used in some of the most horrible crimes in recent history, including the Branch-Davidian standoff at Waco and the Stockton schoolyard massacre. Prohibiting these guns does not infringe on hunting rights or rights to self-defense—it only prevents criminals from accessing the best equipment for committing mass murder. The gun lobby’s refusal to conform to the obvious social consensus that banning tools for slaughter is a good idea shows that it places narrow special interests completely above the safety of the American people.