Well-meaning people so desperately want to accomplish something tangible to be able to feel they have done something to stem gun violence. They would like to believe that banning a gun that looks like a military weapon will be a start.
There lies the problem: it’s a start. Should they be successful, then would their next obsession be to ban the gun that was used to kill President Kennedy (a bolt action rifle) or Bobby Kennedy (a .22 caliber pistol) or John Lennon (a .38 caliber pistol)?
In New York state, a rifle with a bayonet lug on it is now an “assault weapon.” A rifle with a telescopic stock (to allow two people of different physical stature such as a father and son to use the same rifle) is now banned. A rifle with a barrel shroud is now an “assault weapon” and banned.
When Sarah Brady was interviewed about banning a weapon with a shroud, she was all in favor of it but later in the interview admitted she didn’t know what a shroud was. The ten year ban on “assault weapons” that the U.S. recently experienced had as much effect on gun violence as a candlelight vigil. It made people feel good. Should we ban fertilizer and racing fuel which were instrumental in the deaths of 19 children under age 6 as well as 149 other innocent people in the Oklahoma City bombing?
With tongue in cheek, let me suggest banning all large spoons and registering all other spoons to prevent people from getting fat. This would have bipartisan appeal in order to save the likes of Michael Moore, Rush Limbaugh, Candy Crowley and Chris Christy. Naturally, we would have to fight special interest groups such as Oneida. Of course, when a spoon owner dies, all his registered spoons would go to the government.
Well-meaning people also feel that universal background checks are an ideal solution to gun violence. Because it is easier to “feel” than to “think,” laws made without careful thought (such as recently done in New York state) are subject to failure and/or to be overturned in court. Under proposed laws, selling private firearms between brothers or between two gun owners who have known each other for years will make them criminals unless background checks are conducted.
Does anyone think criminals will submit to such a system? The Virginia Tech shooter who killed 33 people in 2007 had passed two background checks because his mentally ill status was not submitted to the database. The Obama Justice Department reported that the effectiveness of a universal background check “depends on requiring gun registration.” In other words, the only way that the government could fully enforce universal background checks would be to mandate the registration of all firearms in private possession — something that has been prohibited by federal law since 1986.
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