Pretty good coming from the Shitcago trib...
Some of the gun grabber quotes are a comedy goldmine.
Gun-control backers: Where are you?
I've written several posts and column items recently on the issue of gun control -- the most recent one asking for ideas from both sides about compromises that gun-rights people and gun-ban people might be able to live with.
And each time it has struck me how tiny, uninspired and vague the response has been from those who favor new laws to try to keep guns out of the hand of evildoers.
While the gun-rights folks weigh in quickly and forcefully with links to studies and detailed arguments, the gun-ban folks are mostly quiet. The suggestions seem to be mostly on the order of Police Supt. Jody Weis' call in today's paper to ban AK-47 rifles, which, as I have argued before, is beside the point, at best.
If gun-control advocates don't want to or can't join the conversation here, I'm prepared to shut it down as the futile exercise it may well be.
Myths blown away on assault weapons
Eric Zorn column, April 7, 1994
When it comes to weaponry and ballistics, I admit to my ignorance. I wouldn't even know what a shell casing looks like if candidate/fearmonger John Cullerton hadn't mailed one to the house during his recent losing primary campaign in the 5th Congressional District.
But I do know that I'm not alone and that lack of technical knowledge about firearms is endemic among those who seem to make the most noise about how to diminish gun violence.
And nowhere does this lack show itself more prominently than in the blustering about "assault weapons," the boogeyman guns that have become the No. 1 cause of rhetoric in Illinois.
They are "the weapons of slaughter," according to Gov. Jim Edgar. "Heavy weapons," intoned the Sun-Times, "incredibly destructive weapons" tsked the Tribune, "the weapons of choice on the street for gang members and drug dealers," added a local spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.
They look scary. They have scary names. Discussion over. Ban them.
Just so, if you wish to look no further.
But having recognized long ago that no gun-control question is ever as easy as the polarized sides would have us believe, I went to examine some of the major assumptions about assault weapons, such as the idea that they are particularly deadly.
In fact, I found, they are not.
They fire medium- or small-caliber bullets at average velocities, according to firearms experts I interviewed. The military forefathers of what we call assault weapons-the continual-fire machine guns that have been all but banned here for many decades-were designed to wound as much as kill the enemy, on the theory that a wounded soldier is a greater burden on an army than a dead one.
The deadliest legal firearm is far and away the common shotgun.
The assumption that assault weapons spray gunfire at a much more rapid rate than other kinds of guns is also false. They fire one bullet per squeeze of the trigger and can fire as fast as the shooter can squeeze-this is true of every semiautomatic weapon, including most ordinary handguns and the most common type of revolver.
ATF spokesman Jack Killorin said semiautomatic guns can fire slightly faster than revolvers; American Shooting Sports Council lobbyist Richard Feldman said competition speed records are set with revolvers, not semiautomatics. Either way, the difference is not great.
The real difference tends to be that the prototypical assault weapon, with its ability to hold large-capacity ammunition clips, can fire more bullets between reloadings than your average firearm-32 is a typical number.
This sounds comparatively ghastly until you consider that a shooter changing smaller clips in a standard semiautomatic or using a speed loader with a revolver can fire just as many shots just about as fast.
This brought me to the question:
How often are crimes committed with semiautomatic assault weapons that could not have been easily and just as effectively perpetrated with conventional guns, the kind that would still be available under most proposed assault-weapon bans?
Killorin said that he thought the ban would make certain criminals less effective but that records do not reflect numbers of crimes that required assault-weapon technology. He could think of only one incident-a FBI shootout in Miami in the early 1980s-in which a criminal's large ammo clip on his assault weapon made a difference.
So why are these hideous-looking guns the "weapons of choice" among criminals?
Well, they're not-most studies show they are used in a small percentage of crimes-but insofar as the ATF finds them increasingly and disproportionately popular with hoodlums, the reason is probably fashion.
Many are marketed with such names as Streetsweeper and such useless macho accessories as grenade launchers and bayonet mounts to appeal to the inner Rambo.
But cosmetics aside, these guns have little to no unique potential for mayhem, and there is no reason to believe bad guys won't move on to different firearms if a ban is enacted.
Still, do these weapons have any other purpose than violent assault, as the very name implies as their opponents insist? Proponents say yes: They are rugged, accurate, good for hunting small game and pest animals, and in some cases well suited for self-defense.
And, of course, they are great for grandstanding.
Some of the gun grabber quotes are a comedy goldmine.