Okay – the answer to the title question is probably “both”.
I read an article at the Eurasia Review this afternoon, titled Time To Ban Automatic Weapons Of Any Kind From High Population Density Areas – OpEd.
The title alone is a problem/head scratcher, but the contents are even more so.
Let’s start with the author.
Rahul D. Manchanda, Esq, was ranked among Top Attorneys in the United States by Newsweek Magazine in 2012 and 2013. Manchanda worked for one of the largest law firms in Manhattan where he focused on asbestos litigation. At the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (“UNCITRAL”) in Vienna, Austria, Mr. Manchanda was exposed to international trade law, arbitration, alternative dispute resolution, and comparisons of the American common law with European civil law.
NOTE: This is a self-written bio. His law firm is bankrupt, I believe, and his FB profile says he is now an “Anti-Corruption/ Human Rights/ Anti-War Activist/ Civil Rights Lawyer”.
Here is the photo that heads the OpEd:
If you believe his bio, Mr. Manchanda is a well-educated man, and he’s supposedly a highly ranked attorney. Yet he doesn’t seem to know that automatic weapons have been effectively banned in the United States for decades. More likely, he doesn’t want the people reading this OpEd to know that fact.
The photo heading the article is a fully automatic weapon that is manufactured in Belgium, and by FN Manufacturing LLC in South Carolina for use by our military. There IS a semi-automatic version of this weapon, M249S, that is manufactured in such a way (welded internal components) that it cannot be converted (at least not easily) to an automatic weapon.
Some facts (thank you NRA):
The National Firearms Act of 1934 requires that before a private citizen may take possession of a fully-automatic firearm he must pay a $200 tax to the Internal Revenue Service and be approved by the Treasury Department to own the firearm, which is registered to the owner with the federal government.
In 1968, Congress approved the Gun Control Act (P.L. 90-618), a provision of which [18 U.S.C. 925(d)(3)] is interpreted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) to prohibit the importation of fully-automatic firearms for sale to civilians.
In 1986, to reaffirm Congress’s intent in passing the GCA and prevent improper law enforcement by BATF, Congress approved the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act (FOPA). BATF interpreted an amendment of that act as a prohibition on the civilian possession of any fully-automatic firearm manufactured after May 19, 1986. The effect of the interpretation has been to “freeze” the number of privately owned fully-automatic firearms at roughly 150,000, an exact figure being unavailable due to privacy protection requirements that apply to tax-based laws such as the National Firearms Act.
The crime-fighting utility of the 1986 “freeze” was questionable, since no legal, civilian-owned fully-automatic firearm had been used to commit a violent crime. BATF’s director at the time, Stephen Higgins, had testified before Congress in 1986 that the misuse of legally-owned fully-automatic firearms was “so minimal as not to be considered a law enforcement problem.”
Mr. Manchanda’s Opinions
Mr. Manchanda makes a number of suggestions for new laws. I won’t list them all here (see link for complete information), but a couple of them are outrageous:
- there should no longer be a distinction between “semi- automatic” versus “automatic” and “assault weapons” since these weapons can be easily altered/converted into one or another.
- specific federal lawsuit legislation, criminal penalties, and legal causes of action should be enacted by Congress and the Senate against any and all facilities and executives (hotels, stadiums, etc) which have been found to have either housed or enabled sick demented killers like Steven Paddock from storing weapons or launching their mass killings … in order to help bankrupt those entities which made it easier for these fiends to commit their crimes – this will undoubtedly help increase private security and reporting mechanisms in order to protect themselves from mass lawsuits, incarceration, and financial ruin.
- automatic weapon registration with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies in all 50 states, including where automatic weapons possession/sales are banned.
- new federal legislation against weapons manufacturers and sellers when their weaponry is found to have been used in a mass shooting, similar to the ITAR and AECA rules promulgated by the U.S. State Department punishing anyone (brokers, dealers, sellers, manufacturers) who was linked to weapons falling into the hands of international terrorist “end users,” regardless of whether or not their initial customers were law abiding individuals/entities.
Of the 91 American mass shootings catalogued by Mother Jones that have occurred since 1982, not one has seen the use of a fully automatic machine gun. It’s semi-automatic rifles—guns that reload automatically but fire only once per trigger pull—that have seen wide use in recent mass shootings and that probably constitute the majority of rifles used in homicides and other crimes. Still, rifles of all kinds constitute a small minority of criminally used guns: Only 2 percent of homicides were committed with rifles of any kind (2014 statistics).
A really good OpEd about gun control is (of all places) in The Washington Post:
I used to think gun control was the answer. My research told me otherwise.
Written by Leah Libresco, a statistician and former newswriter at FiveThirtyEight, a data journalism site. Some of what she says:
- I researched the strictly tightened gun laws in Britain and Australia and concluded that they didn’t prove much about what America’s policy should be. Neither nation experienced drops in mass shootings or other gun related-crime that could be attributed to their buybacks and bans. Mass shootings were too rare in Australia for their absence after the buyback program to be clear evidence of progress. And in both Australia and Britain, the gun restrictions had an ambiguous effect on other gun-related crimes or deaths.
- When I looked at the other oft-praised policies, I found out that no gun owner walks into the store to buy an “assault weapon.” It’s an invented classification that includes any semi-automatic that has two or more features, such as a bayonet mount, a rocket-propelled grenade-launcher mount, a folding stock or a pistol grip. But guns are modular, and any hobbyist can easily add these features at home, just as if they were snapping together Legos.
- As for silencers — they deserve that name only in movies, where they reduce gunfire to a soft puick puick. In real life, silencers limit hearing damage for shooters but don’t make gunfire dangerously quiet. An AR-15 with a silencer is about as loud as a jackhammer. Magazine limits were a little more promising, but a practiced shooter could still change magazines so fast as to make the limit meaningless.
- As my co-workers and I kept looking at the data, it seemed less and less clear that one broad gun-control restriction could make a big difference.
- By the time we published our project, I didn’t believe in many of the interventions I’d heard politicians tout. I was still anti-gun, at least from the point of view of most gun owners, and I don’t want a gun in my home, as I think the risk outweighs the benefits. But I can’t endorse policies whose only selling point is that gun owners hate them. Policies that often seem as if they were drafted by people who have encountered guns only as a figure in a briefing book or an image on the news.
The statistics that were developed as a result of FiveThirtyEight’s research can be found HERE – Gun Deaths In America. Basic facts from their research:
- About two-thirds of gun deaths in the USA are suicides (mostly middle-aged men).
- About a third of gun deaths are homicides; half of those are young men, ages 14-34, 2/3 of whom are black. Homicide includes deaths by both assault and legal intervention (primarily shootings by police officers).
- A very small number are women (1,700 of 33,000), many in domestic violence incidents.
- A very tiny number of gun deaths are either accidents or undetermined in cause.
- Before this week’s mass shooting in Las Vegas, there were 22 deaths and 8 injuries from mass shootings in the US in 2017. See the Mother Jones database of public mass shootings since 1982.
A word about semi-automatic firearms
Since 1989, “gun control” supporters have tried to trick the public into believing that semi-automatic firearms are fully automatic, and that their sales were unregulated. In his State of the Union address on Jan. 24, 1995, President Clinton copied the style of exaggeration used by President Roosevelt 60 years earlier against fully-automatic firearms, claiming the “assault weapon” law was needed to protect people from a “hail of assault-weapon attack.” Campaigning in New Hampshire in February 1996, Clinton said the law was necessary so “people can’t be sprayed innocently while they’re walking up and down the block.”
Network television news groups have shown video footage of machine guns being fired while reporting on semi-automatic firearms issues. Anti-gun activists have said, preposterously, that it is easier to buy an “assault weapon” than a gallon of milk.
For the facts about semi-automatic firearms, including statistics from state and local law enforcement agencies showing that so-called “assault weapons” are used in a very small percentage of violent crimes, see the NRA’s “Semi-Automatic Firearms” fact sheet, available by phone request (1-800-392-8683).
In just a brief search today, I’ve seen a lot of pontificating consisting primarily of ignorance and lies. How much is the former and how much is the latter depends on the author, but the impression I got is that the NRA is absolutely correct. Gun control supporters are trying to trick the public. One CNN article I read (I can’t find it now) said that since the “Assault Weapons Ban” expired in 2004, gun deaths have skyrocketed. Now, mass shootings may be up, but violent crime of all types, including murder, is definitely down, in comparison to the number of guns in civilian hands.