I'm sure that by now everyone is familiar with the Sandy Hook shooting, the cries of the public, politicians, and media for more gun control, et cetera. There's no real need to explain any of that. I'm also sure that most people know the most popular demand currently is the reinstatement of the "Assault Weapons Ban".
Now, for those of you who know me, you'll be aware that I'm against increasing gun control legislation. However, this rant isn't about gun control legislation in general, this rant is about possibly one of the stupidest and most uneducated pieces of gun control legislation that has ever been implemented (of course I might just not be remembering all of them; it's tough to keep track.)
For those of you who don't know, surprisingly enough, the Assault Weapons Ban is essentially a law that prevents the sale or import of firearms that have been dubbed as "assault weapons", also referred to as "weapons of war" and "weapons of destruction."
At this point, one may wonder "what constitutes an assault weapon? What makes these guns so dangerous?" Well my friends, let's run over the generalized list!
- Collapsible butt stocks
- Pistol grips
- "High capacity clips"
- Forward vertical hand grips
- Semi-auto capability
- Removable magazines
- The gun has been on a Hollywood movie in a military context
- The gun is black/looks like one of them military weapons
- That them there AWSSOWLT WEHPUHN!
In all seriousness, the category of "assault weapon" is a completely fictitious one in terms of truly defining traits; I can't really explain to you what an assault weapon really is because the classification doesn't exist in any sense but political.
The way we define which weapons are "assault weapons" seems to have little relation to how "dangerous" these weapons are. I seriously wonder if the people who drafted these bills ever consulted a single expert in the process of drafting these bills.
"But Davis, assault weapons ARE dangerous, you're talking out of your ass! Military weapons shouldn't be in the hands of civilians who could use them to massacre people!"
Modify that to "weapons are dangerous", and I'll be with you on that. This idea that because something is used by the military, it's cool, badass, and super duper dangerous is perhaps one of the more pervasive and incorrect stereotypes we have with regards to weaponry.
"But Davis, your gun-nutty ass has to know that some weapons are more dangerous than others!"
I'll happily stipulate that some weapons are more dangerous than others, but not even us gun nuts can agree on which weapons are "better" than others beyond a very generalized degree. However, the bigger problem here is that the traits to be banned don't even contribute to how "dangerous" a gun is!
Oh yes, a gun having a certain type of stock is going to make it kill people fifty times more efficiently, and a grip that's closer to a ninety-degree angle is so much more dangerous than a classical "hunting rifle" grip. These are almost aesthetic details, all they do is basically give you a subjectively more comfortable grip and allow the gun to be shorter (we'll outline why this would be useful later.)
What's next? "High capacity" magazines (i.e. anything with more than ten rounds.) Now, let's go ahead and say that yes, having a larger magazine will make the gun more effective in combat.
"AHA! Even you, Davis, admit that high-capacity clips are dangerous!"
... Okay, let's get one thing straight; it's a goddamn MAGAZINE you're talking about, not a fucking clip. A clip is a little piece of metal bent around rounds to hold them together, a magazine actually pushes them into the gun. My annoyance at this particular mistake might normally be considered trivial, but if you want something banned, use the correct fucking word instead of sounding like a complete imbecile.
Fortunately most of the legalese I've read doesn't make this error.
Anyway, high-cap mags. Yes, they're better in combat. Do you know the primary reason WHY they are better in combat? Because of something called "suppression". Basically, in combat, the most common tactic is to fire a lot at people behind cover to fucking keep them there, where they can't shoot at your ass.
They weren't designed so that can you can empty as many rounds as possible into crowds of people. The idea that randomly spraying into a group would be effective is, hands down, the most fucking retarded idea I've heard anyone come up with in regards to combat tactics. A high capacity magazine does convey an advantage to shooters; it gives them a slightly larger supply before they run out of ammunition and need to reload. The concept that it lets them spill shots chaotically and kill dozens of people is moronic, even with 30 shots, if you expect to kill someone you still need to FUCKING AIM. This isn't complicated combat tactics, it's math.
Semi-automatic firearms convey a similar advantage, they let you fire faster, so that you can... Yep, you guessed it! SUPPRESS MORE EFFECTIVELY! Bravo! As with larger magazines, semi-auto isn't some magic technology that lets you spray and pray, it lets you fire faster, but aiming is still required, contrary to your Doctorate of Firearm Lethality granted by the University of Die Hard.
Removable magazines... fuck's sake, apparently anything other than a hunting rifle or shotgun made in the last century is an assault weapon now? Well, this one is basically the same as above. It let's you reload faster, it's not fucking magic, genius.
"But Davis, you've just listed several advantages of these guns! They're obviously much more dangerous!"
In the same way that a pickup truck is more dangerous in the hands of a drunk driver than a Honda Civic, not in the way that an M1 Abrams is more dangerous than a tricycle, which is what many seem to think. "Weapons of war" were designed primarily to be lighter, better at suppression, and to use lighter ammunition. Remember how those stocks and hand grips make the gun smaller? They make it smaller so that it's easier to carry 24/7 in a combat zone. So-called "high-powered assault rifles" are in fact LESS powerful than your standard hunting rifle, because they use a smaller and lighter round. An AK-47, supposed mythical beast of close quarter shootings, is arguably an inferior choice to a 12 gauge pump action shotgun.
The advantages that you get from these terrible weapons of war in committing a mass shooting seems too small to justify a ban predicated on such an event, and certainly far too small to justify the hyperbole used to describe them.
It seems that the only criteria used for the creation of the assault weapons ban is emotional rhetoric founded on a recent tragedy and an incredibly poor public understanding of firearms. The "knowledge" of guns presented by those who have written these bills is comparable to the "knowledge" of evolution demonstrated by creationists.
Right now, I don't give a fuck if you support more gun control or less, but how about supporting something that isn't based on a Hollywood fantasy and would actually do something?