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SHACKELFORD: Pushing back on arbitrary gun bans

Restrictive laws won’t save lives

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Even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stripped the controversial "assault weapons" ban out of the Democratic gun-control package headed to the Senate floor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein has vowed to graft parts of her arbitrary ban onto other gun-control legislation with bipartisan support. Throughout this process, the California Democrat and some of her colleagues have engaged in predictable public theatrics, factual distortions and outright scare tactics to obscure the real issues regarding gun violence in America.

In addition to offering a bill that does nothing to actually reduce gun crime, Mrs. Feinstein and her supporters are promoting legislation that erodes the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens who have every right to own the firearm of their choice for recreational shooting or personal defense.

Her rationale — that such a ban would yield a supposed reduction in violent crime — is not supported by evidence or facts.

Mrs. Feinstein's gun ban arbitrarily targets 160 guns, magazines and various firearm accessories; yet, as Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, has pointed out, an analysis of Clinton-era Justice Department statistics reveals no link between the original 1994 "assault weapons" ban and any drop in crime. Why is Mrs. Feinstein reintroducing legislation that was ineffective the first time? Can't lawmakers in Washington pass a law that realistically reduces gun violence?

A first step is helping law enforcement. We must give our law enforcement agencies the necessary budgets and manpower to arrest criminals with guns and pursue those who falsify background checks. Vice President Joseph R. Biden admits that federal law enforcement agencies don't have the resources to investigate and arrest people who possess guns illegally. Yet instead of creating legislation that targets criminals with guns and people who lie on firearms applications, Mrs. Feinstein's bill punishes all law-abiding citizens.

Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican, noted how the Feinstein gun ban focuses on guns that appear to be "scary looking." Mrs. Feinstein's criteria for banning certain types of guns and gun accessories are superficial and arbitrary. An older model carbine rifle escapes the Feinstein gun ban, but a newer model that resembles the look of a military-style assault rifle is banned — purely for cosmetic reasons. A $15 pistol grip attached to any rifle or shotgun would suddenly classify that gun as a deadly "assault weapon" and subject to the Feinstein ban.

The theory that banning certain types of guns will reduce violent crime simply has no merit. According to a Dec. 21, 2012, article in The Washington Post, last year alone the president's hometown of Chicago — which boasts some of the most restrictive gun laws in America — recorded nearly 2,400 shooting incidents and almost 500 homicides, 87 percent of which were gun-related. While Chicago's homicide rate climbed 19 percent, restrictive gun laws have done nothing to stop violent crime.

If President Obama is serious about reducing gun violence, he should work with Congress to dedicate millions of dollars to federal law enforcement agencies and to federal prosecutors so they can lock up criminals with guns and go after people who blatantly lie on background-check forms. Under existing law, if you are a convicted felon, you cannot legally own a gun. We need to pursue felons, not deny the Second Amendment rights of honest folks who have every right to enjoy recreational shooting or have a reliable firearm with ample magazine capacity for personal defense.

As Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, has said, arbitrarily banning certain types of guns and gun accessories creates a "false sense of security," which solves nothing. The simple truth is that any gun — from a single-shot revolver to the most modern rifle — is safe in the hands of a law-abiding citizen. The converse is also true. Any gun — from a single-shot revolver to the most advanced rifle — is dangerous in the hands of a criminal with no regard for human life.

Laura Shackelford is chief executive manager of Slide Fire Solutions.

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