As might be expected after the horrible mass murders in El Paso and Dayton, the hard-left Democrats are calling for bans on high-capacity magazines and so-called assault weapons. But let’s take a look at what that really means, with a look back to the not too distant past when we actually had such bans in federal law.
It is important to recognize that none of the weapons involved in these shootings were true “automatic” weapons. Unfortunately, many politicians and writers simply do not know the difference between an automatic weapon (which fires continuously as long as the trigger is pressed) and a semi-automatic weapon (which fires a single shot each time the trigger is pressed, which must be released in order to fire the next shot). True automatic weapons have been strictly controlled and regulated by the National Firearms Act adopted in 1934, which makes it extremely difficult and expensive to acquire fully automatic weapons, as well as suppressors (a/k/a silencers), short-barreled weapons, etc.
Under the expired so-called “assault weapons ban” law championed by Senators Feinstein, Durbin and Schumer, bans were imposed on certain rifles that fell into the definition of being an “assault weapon.” But that definition in the law made no logical sense whatsoever — the definition relied solely on certain physical appearance of a weapon, such as having a pistol grip, a detachable magazine, etc. If it had two or more of the features, it was deemed an assault weapon and was banned, irrespective of the fact that the definition had virtually nothing to do with the actual functioning of the weapon. None of the weapons banned by the assault weapons ban were fully automatic weapons since those had already been essentially banned from private ownership since 1934.
Even more ridiculous was the fact that thousands of weapons that had the prohibited features were already in the hands of thousands of law-abiding citizens, who were not prohibited from continuing to own them. And manufacturers responded to the ban by producing firearms that were virtually identical except for the offending features. So, we ended up with a vigorous commerce in “pre-ban” and “post-ban” guns.
The high capacity magazine ban was similarly ridiculous. The law prohibited any new magazines with a capacity of more than 10 rounds of ammunition but did not ban any of such magazines that had been manufactured before the effective date of the law. Thus, between the time of enactment of the law and its effective date, many manufacturers produced thousands of high-capacity magazines, with the result that even when the ban was in effect for several years, it was very easy to acquire and own high capacity magazines legally.
The usually unspoken goal of the Democrat-left is actually confiscation of any weapons they do not like, which means most firearms. And some of those politicians have actually admitted that has always been their ultimate goal.
But they have either failed or refused to take into account (a) the Second Amendment to our Constitution, and recent Supreme Court decisions upholding the rights of law-abiding citizens to own and possess firearms; (b) in some countries without Second Amendment protections and where confiscation has been tried, it has been an abject failure; and (c) the real problem is the disturbed people who commit these crimes.
There are laws in some states that provide for involuntary commitment and mental evaluations, under due process protections, of persons reasonably believed to pose a danger to themselves or others. Such a law (the Baker Act) has existed in Florida for many years but was never used by the hard-left Dems controlling political life in Broward County at which the Parkland School shooting occurred, notwithstanding numerous incidents involving the ultimate shooter that would have provided a more than adequate basis for an involuntary commitment and mental evaluation of him that might have prevented the school shooting.
We now have been told that at least one of the two most recent shooters posted screeds on hate web sites indicating, at least in part, their intention to do what they did. So, where were our vaunted federal law enforcement agencies that should have been monitoring those sites, tracking down the IP addresses of the posters, and establishing surveillance of the posters that might have prevented the tragedies?
Let’s be clear: the gun-grabbing left want to confiscate all of our guns.