Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Attack on Semi-Autos: Response to Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter Wants to Ban Just the Guns That Kill People
Jacob Sullum |
In a New York Times op-ed piece, former President Jimmy Carter presents revival of the federal "assault weapon" ban, which President Obama supports, as a no-brainer, since the guns that were covered by the expired 1994 law are "designed only to kill police officers and the people they defend." Evidently, if you aim one of these firearms at a home intruder, a prairie dog, or a paper target, instead of firing a bullet it harmlessly unfurls a little flag that says "Bang!" Having polled himself and his hunting buddies, Carter reports that "none of us wants to own an assault weapon, because we have no desire to kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims we can accumulate before we are finally shot or take our own lives." According to Carter, then, everyone who owns one of these guns is an aspiring cop killer, homicidal maniac, or both.
Carter never explains what makes these weapons uniquely suited to murdering policemen and random passers-by yet completely inappropriate for any other purpose. On the face of it, the criteria that distinguish "assault weapons" from legitimate, non-cop-killing, non-student-slaughtering guns—which include "military-style" features such as bayonet mounts, folding stocks, and flash suppressors—do not have much to do with criminal functionality. But they must, because Carter says "the results of this profligate ownership and use of guns designed to kill people" (i.e., "assault weapons") include the deaths of "more than 30,000 people" in 2006. In other words, "assault weapons" account for every gun-related death, with none left over for models that don't fall into this arbitrary category. No wonder Carter is so eager to ban them.
Studies of "assault weapon" use prior to the 1994 ban paint a different picture. In these studies, according to a 2004 Justice Department report (PDF), "AWs typically accounted for up to 8% of guns used in crime, depending on the specific AW definition and data source used." Even the shooting rampages for which Carter claims "assault weapons" are especially designed typically involve guns that were not covered by the federal ban. Here is a catalog (PDF), compiled by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, of "Mass Gun Violence in the United States Since 1997." Given that the group is an unrelenting booster of bans on "assault weapons," it presumably would not have missed an opportunity to associate them with mass murder. Yet firearms covered by the federal ban are mentioned in connection with only a small minority of the crimes on the list—nine out of 138, or less than 7 percent, on the first 10 pages. And as I mentioned in a column last month, both the deadliest and the second deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history were accomplished with ordinary handguns.
Ted Nugent said he is going to write a counter Op-Ed to Carter's blatant bull-scat also....The lies and character assassination semi-auto gun owners have to put up with is horrific, mean-spirited, and cowardly to boot. It brings to mind the old Ted Kennedy bumper sticker about his "car has killed more people than any of my guns"...
What Happened to the Ban on Assault Weapons?
By JIMMY CARTER
Published: April 26, 2009
THE evolution in public policy concerning the manufacture, sale and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons like AK-47s, AR-15s and Uzis has been very disturbing. Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and I all supported a ban on these formidable firearms, and one was finally passed in 1994.
When the 10-year ban was set to expire, many police organizations — including 1,100 police chiefs and sheriffs from around the nation — called on Congress and President George W. Bush to renew and strengthen it. But with a wink from the White House, the gun lobby prevailed and the ban expired.
I have used weapons since I was big enough to carry one, and now own two handguns, four shotguns and three rifles, two with scopes. I use them carefully, for hunting game from our family woods and fields, and occasionally for hunting with my family and friends in other places. We cherish the right to own a gun and some of my hunting companions like to collect rare weapons. One of them is a superb craftsman who makes muzzle-loading rifles, one of which I displayed for four years in my private White House office.
But none of us wants to own an assault weapon, because we have no desire to kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims we can accumulate before we are finally shot or take our own lives. That’s why the White House and Congress must not give up on trying to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, even if it may be politically difficult.
An overwhelming majority of Americans, including me and my hunting companions, believe in the right to own weapons, but surveys show that they also support modest restraints like background checks, mandatory registration and brief waiting periods before purchase.
A majority of Americans also support banning assault weapons. Many of us who hunt are dismayed by some of the more extreme policies of the National Rifle Association, the most prominent voice in opposition to a ban, and by the timidity of public officials who yield to the group’s unreasonable demands.
Heavily influenced and supported by the firearms industry, N.R.A. leaders have misled many gullible people into believing that our weapons are going to be taken away from us, and that homeowners will be deprived of the right to protect ourselves and our families. The N.R.A. would be justified in its efforts if there was a real threat to our constitutional right to bear arms. But that is not the case.
Instead, the N.R.A. is defending criminals’ access to assault weapons and use of ammunition that can penetrate protective clothing worn by police officers on duty. In addition, while the N.R.A. seems to have reluctantly accepted current law restricting sales by licensed gun dealers to convicted felons, it claims that only “law-abiding people” obey such restrictions — and it opposes applying them to private gun dealers or those who sell all kinds of weapons from the back of a van or pickup truck at gun shows.
What are the results of this profligate ownership and use of guns designed to kill people? In 2006, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported more than 30,000 people died from firearms, accounting for nearly 20 percent of all injury deaths. In 2005, every nine hours a child or teenager in the United States was killed in a firearm-related accident or suicide.
Across our border, Mexican drug cartels are being armed with advanced weaponry imported from the United States — a reality only the N.R.A. seems to dispute.
The gun lobby and the firearms industry should reassess their policies concerning safety and accountability — at least on assault weapons — and ease their pressure on acquiescent politicians who fear N.R.A. disapproval at election time. We can’t let the N.R.A.’s political blackmail prevent the banning of assault weapons — designed only to kill police officers and the people they defend. -- Jimmy Carter