Assault Weapon Bans Will Only Go So Far

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The title of this (in my digital files) is “Guns Without Roses,” because it’s about assault-style weapons and high capacity magazines. But I’ve also been thinking about Slash, Axl, Duff, Steven and … the other one(s), like Izzy. “Welcome to the Jungle” seems like an appropriate song for our screwed up zeitgeist about guns and the title of the album is even more appropriate: Appetite for Destruction.

Seriously, how big is our appetite for the destruction of the children in America? Now, gun violence is the number one cause of death of children and teenagers. But apparently that’s okay with too many GOP lawmakers. As stated in a previous post, Tim Burchett, a Republican congressman from East Tennessee, told reporters, “Three precious little kids lost their lives, and I believe three adults, I believe, and the shooter of course, lost their life too. So, it’s a horrible, horrible situation. And, we’re not gonna fix it,” Saying the quiet part outloud, “Criminals are gonna be criminals.” He added. “ Don’t see any real role that we could do other than mess things up, honestly, because of the situation.”

We can’t do anything and most of his Republican colleagues believe the same. Oh and, Burchett and his wife don’t have to worry about their young daughter because she is home schooled. Screw all  the rest of you suckers in Nashville who put their children in public and private schools.

Sometimes my cynicism feels so quaint when compared to some of these terrible politicians.

What got me started tonight was a conversation I had with a friend. We were listening to TYT, The Young Turks, and one of the topics was gun control and banning assault style weapons in particular. Roughly estimating, 20% of all guns sold in America are AR-15s and its variants. And since 2004, when the 1994 assault weapons ban ended, the sale of assault style weapons like the AR-15 and the AK-47 have gone through the roof. We’re talking hundreds of millions of those weapons in the hands of all types of gun enthusiasts, including the mass murderers who most often buy their weapons legally. Maybe red flag laws would help, or a comprehensive  national background check was passed and enforced, one that closes the “gun show loophole” as well.

Another, permanent assault style ban would have some good effect, stopping further manufacturing and sales of the weapons. Gun manufacturers found ways around the 1994 ban by using a few simple design modifications. The guns didn’t really look like AR-15s, but damn! The could sure shoot like assault rifles.

But here’s the thing about assault weapons bans: The millions of Americans that own AR-15s and other assault weapons are not the kind of people who will give up their favorite guns. Seriously, you think people that make Christmas cards with them and their children holding AR-15s in front of the Christmas tree ore the types to give up their guns? Such a ban would get maybe 5% of all the assault-style rifles floating around the country.

People would still get around such a ban by going to gun shows and talk with the dealers who are off the grid and buy from them. And some of those off the grid gun sellers can even sell people fully automatic M4 carbines, hand grenades and other explosives.

The bigger, more important ban would be on high capacity magazines. Stop the sale of them to civilians and restrict them to the military … maybe the police as well. Very few people with high capacity magazines will give them up, but as the years roll by some of those magazines would stop working. It would be much more difficult to find high capacity magazines for sale. Potential buyers would turn to the black market. And it would be easier for police and agencies like the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to hunt for and then arrest the black marketeers. But, that’s if enough Republicans had the cojones to vote with Democrats to ban the assault weapons and high capacity magazines, along with beefing up federal agencies like the ATF. Reminds me of the Everly Brothers classic, “All I Have To Do Is Dream.”

Of course those young men, boys at the time they recorded that song, were singing about some young teenage girl. We’re dreaming about deadly weapons of war.

Listening to TYT and my friend go on about assault weapons bans I had to call it out. Believing assault weapons owners will give up their AR-15s and high capacity magazines is just pie-in-the-sky fantasy. It’s never going to happen. Even if law enforcement agencies on the local, state and federal levels tried to aggressively enforce such bans, leaders in those agencies know it would lead to a lot of bloodshed. All we need to do to see evidence of that is this: Remember Ruby Ridge, Waco, Texas, Oklahoma City, and Cliven Bundy in Nevada and his son Ammon Bundy who joined other right wing militia nuts to occupy the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

Arrests were made in Oregon, but if I’m not mistaken, all the perps were found not guilty by juries of their peers. A bunch of the right wingers did plead guilty to some charges, but seven defendants were found not guilty. One right wing nut was shot dead as he tried to evade roadblocks.

Then on January 6, 2021 an armed mob attacked the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election. For once in his mostly useless life Vice President Mike Pence stood tall and did the right thing. He refused to go along with Trump’s big lie and would not count “alternate” slates of delegates from the precious swing states like Wisconsin and Arizona. Pence helped save American democracy. Since then he’s gone back to being a Trump toadie.

But a ban on the further manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high capacity magazines would go along way to slowing down gun violence. Just forget about trying to force those gun owners to give up their favorite playthings.

The other reality working against the 80-90 % of Americans who favor comprehensive background checks and red flag laws. The members of the GOP who are owned by the NRA and the gun manufacturers.  In fact the gun makers must love mass shootings like the one in Nashville. Those events drive up sales of their weapons of war and the high capacity magazines.

Good luck trying to ban assault weapons. Just the suggestion of a ban sends gun enthusiasts to gun stores to buy more and more AR-15s, but we can at least try to do the right thing.