Columns

Gun control and good sense

By EWIN JAMES

Thursday, January 31, 2013    

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It is understandable that the horrific massacre of 26 persons, including 20 little children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut, has driven the United States to do something to prevent such an occurrence in future.

What isn't understandable though is that people who ought to know better are determined to prevent such an occurrence in future and reduce gun crime by doing what has been done before, to no avail. There is a determination to ban 'assault weapons' the name given to the type of weapon Adam Lanza used to murder the innocents -- though we don't even have a precise definition weapon of what an 'assault weapon' is. The most common one is a rifle with a magazine carrying more than 10 bullets.

There was a ban on 'assault weapons' in 1994 signed into law by then President Bill Clinton. Called the Federal Assault Weapons Ban or the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, it ran for 10 years and expired in 2004. It didn't reduce crime. The Center For Disease Control studied the effects of this ban and other firearm laws on crime and in 2003 found "insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence."

How will another such ban on 'assault weapons' help to reduce gun crimes and prevent a repeat of what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut? But President Obama has a plan for such a ban that he will submit to Congress to pass laws banning 'assault weapons, and certain magazines carrying more than 10 rounds -- among other proposals.

The question now is: are 'assault weapons' causing the most gun violence and murders in America that it is so urgent to ban them? You be the judge. According to the FBI, in 2010 there were 350 persons murdered by 'assault weapons.' On the other hand, 6009 persons were murdered by handguns; though no one is calling for a ban on them. A total of 1704 persons were murdered by knives and 745 by hands and feet. By these numbers we should ban hand guns, knives and hands and feet, not 'assault weapons'

Chicago, President Obama's hometown, has some of the strictest 'gun control' laws in America, including a ban on 'assault weapons,' in Cook County in which the city falls and a law forbidding residents of Illinois to carry concealed weapons in public, yet Chicago has the highest number of gun murders in America and more than many cities in the world. Doesn't President Obama know that?

Here are some reasons why a ban on 'assault weapons' or any kinds of guns in America won't work. The country is full of guns because the Constitution gives Americans the right to bear arms. The 2nd amendment says "A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."(emphasis mine).

This gives the people the right to possess as many guns of whatever sort they want; though the framers of the constitution never envisaged the deadly kinds of weapons now being made -- something those who want to ban 'assault weapons' use as justification. But in the absence of any constitutional description of guns for Americans to carry or not to carry a ban on any weapon seems to be an infringement of people's constitutional right.

Over the years because of the right to bear arms Americans have amassed a vast number of guns -- some 300 million: roughly one for each person in the population. There is also ammunition to service these guns for the next 100 years. So banning the sale and manufacture of 'assault weapons' being made today won't keep guns out of the hands of anyone who wants them. Only confiscating the 300 million guns already held would help. But should the government attempt that, America would erupt in insurrection.

The other reason that no ban will work is that all such bans and gun control laws are effective against the persons who do not need them -- the law-abiding. The criminals are left with their weapons to prey upon the law-abiding who obey the Laws.

Are guns the only implements capable of mass murder? For most of the existence of human beings on earth there were no guns, yet there were always mass murders; for those who want to kill will always find ways to do so whether using their hands, swords, stones or sticks.

It is possible that had Adam Lanza entered the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown Connecticut with sharpened daggers or machetes he would have killed just as many - though not in such a short time - and plunged one in his own heart, killing himself, before he was stopped. His victims would have suffered longer from their wounds.

In 1994 Hutu militias in Rwanda targeted Tutsis and in 100 days slaughtered over 800,000 of them. What weapon did they use? Not assault rifles. They used machetes, clubs and knives. But I have never heard anybody call for a ban of any of these implements.

Ewin James is a freelance writer living in Florida.

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