Gun grabbers aren’t subtle. Flanked by uniformed police officers and a wall of black rifles, Sen. Dianne Feinstein on Thursday unleashed the most restrictive ever national “assault weapon” ban in the Senate. The California Democrat and the assembled anti-gun officials directly referenced last month’s horrific shooting of children at Sandy Hook Elementary School no fewer than 45 times. They will let no tragedy go to waste.
(This is the first in a four-part series on dispelling gun myths. Click here to read part two The High-Capacity Magazine Myth. Click here to read part three The Cop-Killer Bullet Myth. Click here to read part four The Gun-Show Loophole Myth.)
The proposal would ban the manufacture, sale or transfer of 158 specific makes and models of guns, along with any semiautomatic firearm (rifle, shotgun or handgun) that has a detachable magazine and one cosmetic feature such as a pistol grip or folding stock. The bill also prohibits a magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
No item falling into a banned category could be imported, and if a gun owner wanted to sell or transfer one of these, he would have to undergo a government background check. “We have done our best to craft a responsible bill to ban these ‘assault weapons’ — guns designed for military use, bought all over this country and often used for mass murder,” said Mrs. Feinstein of her ambitious proposal.
President Obama and his allies, such as Mrs. Feinstein, deliberately misuse the term “assault weapon” to confuse the public. Assault weapons are machine guns, automatic rifles that continue to fire until the trigger is released. These guns have been highly regulated since 1934 and are never used in crimes. The guns that this congressional bill targets are simply the standard semi-automatic weapons that fire one bullet with each trigger pull.
The best illustration of this deception is Mrs. Feinstein’s placing of the “Armalite M15 22LR Carbine” on her list of items that she claims have the sole purpose “to hold at the hip if possible, to spray fire to be able to kill large numbers.” This particular weapon fires a .22 long rifle cartridge, which has one-tenth the power of the standard military round and is generally suited for plinking tin cans or hunting small varmints. It simply looks like a military rifle, which fits Mrs. Feinstein’s effort to eliminate items that look scary to her.
During the marathon news conference, politicians played on emotions rather than facts. We know the new “assault weapons” ban would be useless because crime didn’t decrease during the 10 years that the 1994 ban was in effect. In the eight years Americans have been free to buy any semi-automatic rifles, gun ownership has gone up while crime has steadily declined.
According to a survey conducted in 2010 for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, 90 percent of the owners of modern sporting rifles use them for target shooting, 80 percent for home defense and 60 percent for hunting.
About 44 percent of owners are former military or law enforcement, who enjoy using a familiar rifle. The typical owner is over 35 years old, married and has some college education. These good Americans are the ones who will be affected by a ban, not the criminals who will continue to use whatever they want.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid should bring this measure to a floor vote soon so it can quickly be shot down.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.