All the News That's Fit to be Tied

I have an axe to grind, but unlike the New York Times, I freely admit it.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Automatic vs Semi-Automatic Gun Control

Is there such a thing as sensible gun control? Is there an accommodation between some guns or no guns, some guns or all guns, some weapons or no weapons? This is the battle that always emerges with each side trying to turn the argument into all or nothing and no space in between. If the extreme liberal left had its way everything except single shot 22’s, bb guns and double-barrel shotguns would be prohibited. If the extreme right had its way only tanks, bazookas and flame throwers would be prohibited. So for the rest of us there is plenty of middle ground if we could just operate there. The last assault weapons ban had one major flaw; it did not exclude “assault” weapons. The liberal left had widened the definition of assault weapons into include semi-automatic weapons and as a result permitted the semi-automatic  rifles like the AR-15, the AK-47 and other military style weapons to be included in the vast arsenal of hunting rifles like Winchester and Mossberg semi-automatic weapons. In fact Diane Feinstein’s proposed weapons bill has 900 semi-automatic exemptions and grandfathers all current guns currently in private hands. Perhaps a simple change in definition could help the Congress come up with a sensible bill that could pass both Houses, preserve the Second Amendment and eliminate assault weapons in the public market. Instead of semi-automatic weapons, why not ban automatic weapons and those can be transformed into automatic weapons. (The AR-15 and the AK-47 are perfect examples that can operate in semi-auto and automatic mode.) For those who do not know the difference: Semi-automatic are rifles that automatically load and eject cartridges and require a finger pull to fire each round. Automatic weapons fire continuously as long as the trigger is in the firing position. This latter category is the weapon typically called an assault weapon. In contrast most modern hunter and sports models are semi-automatic, is it’s easy to see how the desire to ban all guns has confused the issue and made the prohibition of assault weapons unattainable. I think most people would agree that automatic weapons as well as bazookas, tanks and flame throwers are not sportsman or hunter weapons and could easily fit in an assault weapons ban. It would include the most dangerous automatic weapons that can operate in semi-automatic mode and make their possession illegal for most civilians. At the same time it would protect owners of the semi-automatic weapons in use by most hunters, sportsman and target shooters. Even this ban would not have prevented the carnage in Connecticut, but a ban of automatic weapons is overdue. However, if you team up a federal requirement for possession of a handgun with an assault weapons ban you have a real chance of limting the carnage that occurred last week. A national handgun requirement would mean that most people would only qualify to have rifles, which are much more difficult to hide than handguns and reduce the chances they can be used as they were in many of the public shootings that have occurred. I find myself very ambivalent on this topic, but I agree that we must start someplace.