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As people mourn, and are buried, from Ohio to Texas, the familiar refrain is "Do Something!" Democratic presidential candidates on the campaign trail are only too happy to play along. They claim they will do something if elected, And they might. They could pass another assault weapons ban.

At a campaign event last week, Joe Biden bragged about how he helped pass such a ban in 1994, back when he was a United States senator. One thing he didn't mention, though:

Mr. Biden, your ban didn't work.

It was so ineffective that Congress allowed the ban to expire after its 10-year run. You could look it up.

The problems were many, and such problems with another ban still exist today:

First, loopholes galore. Even after the 1994 ban, so-called assault weapons were easy to get. Because the ban wasn't a ban at all. It just prevented the production and sale of new such weapons. All the millions of others on the streets (and in closets, and at deer camp, and at shooting clubs) were still around and being used. For the record, there is no serious American candidate for high office talking confiscation even today.

We remember after the Newtown shootings in 2012, Dianne Feinstein came out with a bill to ban certain rifles. It turned out that her bill would have exempted 900 different kinds of weapons. Nine hundred! So instead of buying that weapon, any crazy person intent on a mass killing could simply buy one in the next rack. Some ban.

This week, Cory Booker--a modern-day candidate with the self-confidence, if not self-importance, of King Canute--said this on the stump: "We must act to get weapons of war off our streets, out of our grocery stores, our bars, our temples and our churches by banning assault weapons once and for all."

Once and for all. Get this guy.

How, precisely? Pass a law? How many gun owners would obey it? Half of them? Then how long will it take to get rid of the other hundred million (or more) guns still on the street "once and for all"? Would it take 100 years to draw them out and down?

Joe Biden also called for a buy-back program. But that exists now. Anybody who wants to sell a gun can do so at the nearest pawn shop. But then again, Joe Biden might not be the world's best gun, or gun law, expert. He once said he advised his wife, should she have a problem, to walk outside to their balcony and fire off a couple of 12-gauge shotgun blasts. This while he was vice president. It's an iffy proposition if the police at No. 1 Observatory Circle would've allowed such behavior even by the Second Lady.

It might be impolitic to say, but if every assault rifle in America disappeared tomorrow--by magic--and a ban kept any more from being made or sold, that wizardry wouldn't prevent mass shootings, or the damage done during them. Because assault weapons don't shoot one whit faster than the average hunting rifle.

The main difference--actually the only difference--between your grandpa's pig gun and an "assault rifle" is cosmetic. One looks cool and has a pistol grip. And might be painted black, like in the movies. That's what gets one gun placed on the banned list, and another left off. It has nothing at all to do with capacity or power of the weapon itself.

The vast majority of gun crimes, including murder, are committed with handguns. But when the crowd starts chanting Do Something!, pols seeking high office will lead the mob. As soon as they figure out which way the mob is heading.

So should the United States ban assault weapons anyway? Our considered editorial opinion: Why not.

Once upon a time, there was a saying among the young: If it feels good, do it. It certainly felt good in 1994 to ban certain rifles and exempt most others. In the words of Tom Cotton, who visited with us last week, there are some who'd rather make a point than make a difference. A ban of some guns would help in that regard, certainly.

We suspect that most Arkies don't have a dog in this fight. Most don't make or sell these things. Those who already own them will be able to keep them, according to all reports. And in another 10 years, any ban would expire, because it wouldn't work any better than the last one to prevent any kind of violence.

And when the next massacre happens, We the People shouldn't wonder why an assault weapons ban didn't prevent it.

It was never meant to. It was only meant to make us feel better until the next slaughter.

The question then will be: Do we? Do we feel better?

Or would Americans be better off by doing something that would work, such as implementing background checks without loopholes, passing red-flag laws, and getting the mentally ill the kind of help they need, even if they don't want it?

There are those who would debate those last few questions. And here we thought they were rhetorical.

Editorial on 08/12/2019

Print Headline: Semi-arguments


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Archived Comments

  • Morebeer
    August 12, 2019 at 9:07 a.m.

    Kind of dishonest editorial. Suggesting the former ban on the assault style weapons had no effect because of those already in circulation flies in the face of the fact that the shooters using them generally went to a store and bought one after the ban expired. Typical right wing BS. Don’t do nuthin cuz nuthin can be done. Wonder where we’d be with handgun proliferation of we’d taken reasonable action after Lincoln was shot. They say a liberal is someone who hasn’t been mugged. I guess a conservative is someone whose kid hasn’t been murdered in school or at the mall.

  • Packman
    August 12, 2019 at 9:35 a.m.

    This editorial is spot on. Any law that infringes on individual liberty that has NO societal benefit should be opposed on principle alone. This is the case with banning sporting rifles. Unless when they say "ban" they really mean "confiscate" and call an "assault rifle" any rifle that is automatic action.
    Facts, perspective, and common sense are important as well. The Washington Post says that over the last half century less than 2,000 people have lost their lives in a "mass shooting" (since the definitions are varying, this must always be placed in quotation marks). During that same time 700,000 people died due to AIDS. Opiod overdoses killed 50,000 people in 2017 alone. Late term abortion killed over 10,000 babies just last year. If you define a mass shooting as involving four or more people, Chicago had 26 of them already this year. And none of them involved a sporting rifle. NONE. NADA. ZERO.
    But lets keep politicizing these rare events while ignoring the rest. Or so says liberal democrats.

  • hah406
    August 12, 2019 at 9:43 a.m.

    Imagine in general if the federal government put as much effort into ending gun violence as they do rounding up undocumented immigrants who are keeping their heads down and working in poultry processing plants.
    Packman, you call them sporting rifles, but I have never once seen an AR-15 used in a deer hunt. You can't even use them to hunt feral hogs because they aren't powerful enough. Not saying they should be banned, but your terminology is a bit misleading. And anyone that wants to solve the Chicago shooting problems needs to solve the issue of entirely too many handguns on the streets there.

  • RBear
    August 12, 2019 at 9:45 a.m.

    This is one of the most rambling, idiotic op-eds by the D-G ed board I've seen in a while. With regards to the AWB, it was allowed to expire due to intensive gun rights lobbying. Proof of that? Congress was under Republican control and NRA contributions to those Republicans is well documented. With regards to effectiveness, in the years following the expiration mass shootings rose again and at pretty high rates.
    With regards as to one or the other, why not implement all of the suggested ideas? The AWB did work, but apparently those at the ed board fail to do their research as they often fail to do. It is time to re-instate the 1994 AWB. In all three cases from last week, the shooters were able to easily gain access to assault-style weapons to complete their act. In FL, a white supremacist posted he couldn't wait to get off probation to gain access to his AR-15 and for the local Walmart to watch out. Even though he already had access, the point was that an assault-style weapon was his weapon of choice.
    Mass shooters overwhelmingly choose assault-style weapons and for a reason. The effectiveness in both El Paso and Dayton shows why. Do we really need more El Pasos or Daytons to stop the bloodshed?

  • GeneralMac
    August 12, 2019 at 10:02 a.m.

    " if it feels good do it"

    motto of "usual suspects"

  • GeneralMac
    August 12, 2019 at 10:07 a.m.

    SJMAYS..."ban ALL guns. I don't want to live in the wild west"

    PopMom....." ban all semi-automatic guns"

    Dr BOLTASR..." gun control is my litmus test when voting "

    Don't give an inch !
    The anti 2A fanatics won't shut up until poster SJMAY's wish is fulfilled.

  • RBear
    August 12, 2019 at 10:09 a.m.

    Sometimes it's just best to let Pack make those kind of uninformed statements. The other examples he provides have nothing to do with gun violence and you could add on any number of issues to the list, including deaths from alcohol abuse. The bottom line is that those deaths are not caused by someone inflicting harm on another, although I'm sure Pack will argue the abortion one.
    In the case of mass shootings, the weapon of choice is an assault-style weapon as defined by the AWB, not Pack's distorted view of weapons. He likes to lie a lot about a lot of things and this is one of those.

  • GeneralMac
    August 12, 2019 at 10:13 a.m.

    The SIGHT of a "scarey looking" semi-automatic rifle is what upsets anti 2A fanatics.

    Reminds me of when restaurants had smoking and non-smoking sections.

    A guy sat in the NON-smoking section , took a cigarette out and PRETENDED he was smoking and trying to hide it.

    IMMEDIATELY some folks in the NON-smoking area called management and complained that they were allergic to the smoke and started coughing uncontrollable.
    The cigarette neve r was lit !

    The SIGHT is what triggered their reaction.

    August 12, 2019 at 10:19 a.m.

    Removing assault weaponry from the streets.Does not make one anti- 2A.It makes one a rational minded,very concerned citizen without any conspiracy theory fears.Remember! This is an amendment.Then we have the WELL REGULATED MILITIA. Some refer to themselves as patriots.I find .They have a warped sense of being American.

  • GeneralMac
    August 12, 2019 at 10:20 a.m.

    Was 34-0-0 ( Amonia nitrate fertilizer) banned after the Oklahoma City bombing ?

    Go to Walmart's lawn and garden center and read the bottom of lawn fertilizer bags.

    It will either state UREA ( 46-0-0) was the nitrogen used or 34-0-0 ( Amonia nitrate) as the nitrogen source.

    Yes, I imagine the SIGHT of reading " 34-0-0-) will give " usual suspects" panic attacks as they scream.." Timothy McVeigh, Oklahoma City" ..and protest to a dept head at Wallmart.