Left and Right Agree: Only Crazy People Oppose Reviving the 'Assault Weapon' Ban

What happens when two mushy-minded moderates who qualify as opposite ends of a political spectrum only on the op-ed page of The New York Times get together for a "conversation" (definitely not a debate) about gun control in the wake of a highly publicized mass shooting? Pretty much what you'd expect: They agree that self-righteous extremists are just awful (although Gail Collins mainly has in mind NRA members, while David Brooks focuses on gun control activists), that policy should be driven by evidence rather than emotion, and that it's too bad all those rude shouters are impeding a consensus on the commonsense steps that obviously should be taken to prevent gun violence. Steps like...reinstating the federal "assault weapon" ban that expired in 2004:

Gail Collins: There are some parts of the gun control debate that are definitely open to, um, debate. There are parts that aren’t, like the need to ban assault weapons. The fact that Congress found it impossible to extend the law against guns that allow you to shoot off 100 bullets in a couple of minutes is simply insane.

David Brooks: I agree with you there. The best argument for gun control this week is that even more people would have died if Holmes's gun had been faster or more effective.

Immediately after declaring the debate about "assault weapons" closed, Collins conflates the military-style guns that fall into that arbitrary category with "guns that allow you to shoot off 100 bullets in a couple of minutes," i.e., semiautomatic firearms that accept detachable magazines. Although the same law that banned "assault weapons" also banned magazines holding more than 10 rounds, it left millions of the latter in circulation—plenty to supply the needs of deranged mass murderers. 

But Collins' confusion is crystal clear compared to Brooks'. He says "even more people would have died if Holmes’s gun had been faster or more effective." The whole reason people like Collins and Brooks are talking about reviving the "assault weapon" ban is the assumption that James Holmes' Smith & Wesson M&P15 rifle would have been covered by the law (which may indeed be true, depending on its specific features). So what on earth does Brooks mean when he says things would have been even worse if Holmes had been carrying a "faster or more effective" weapon? A machine gun? Those are already tightly restricted. Brooks probably doesn't mean that Holmes could have killed more people if he had not opted for that scary 100-round magazine, which ended up jamming, forcing him to switch guns. An unnamed "law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation" told CNN "these after-market extended magazines have a tendency to jam," a point that undermines the claim that they are especially suited for mass murder. Brooks probably also does not mean that more people might have died if Holmes had relied more on his shotgun, which is deadlier at short range. Acknowledging that point would cast doubt on the notion that "assault weapons" are uniquely dangerous.

So Collins and Brooks don't really know what the "assault weapon" ban did, but they want to bring it back anyway. The really irritating part is that Brooks makes a big show of siding with science and reason, noting three different reviews that found the evidence about the impact of gun control laws inconclusive. "This is not an open and shut case," he says. It's a mystery why Brooks does not bring the same caution to the case for the "assault weapon" ban, especially in light of "An Updated Assessment of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban: Impacts on Gun Markets and Gun Violence, 1994-2003," a 2004 report that three University of Pennsylvania criminologists prepared for the National Institute of Justice. Does this sound like "an open and shut case"?

Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs [assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban. LCMs [large-capacity magazines] are involved in a more substantial share of gun crimes, but it is not clear how often the outcomes of gun attacks depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than ten shots (the current magazine capacity limit) without reloading. 

The researchers allow that "reducing criminal use of AWs and especially LCMs could have nontrivial effects on gunshot victimizations" but say "predictions are tenuous." According to Gail Collins, that's crazy talk, and possibly sufficient evidence of insanity to strip you of your Second Amendment rights. 

[Thanks to Bob Woolley for the tip.]

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  • wareagle||

    so THAT's what the inside of the NYT echo chamber sounds like.

  • juris imprudent||

    I can't hear a damn thing for this ringing.

    Did you say something?

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Smells like Krugman's taint.

  • jasno||

    Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the first (mostly) 3D-printed gun:

    http://www.extremetech.com/ext.....rinted-gun

    So, will they be banning 3d models of high-capacity magazines as well?

  • jasno||

    and, yes, obviously this just decreases the effort it takes to construct a firearm. It has been possible, since whenever the first firearm was invented, to make one yourself. Contrary to the opinion of some, a government is not needed to facilitate the process.

  • Drake||

    Yep - It was never very hard to make a functional gun. Now it's absurdly easy.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Who even needs a gun? Anyone bent on creating mayhem can just drive a car into a crowd of people.

    -jcr

  • ||

    In short, this means that people without gun licenses — or people who have had their licenses revoked — could print their own lower receiver and build a complete, off-the-books gun. What a chilling thought.

    ----------

    Got hoplophobia?

  • ant1sthenes||

    This is what I've been saying. Once distributed machining/manufacturing is widely accessible to the middle class, gun control will be utterly dead, barring a move toward actual totalitarianism, which will be harder to pull off when all the people you're trying to fuck have little arms factories.

  • ||

    Brooks is right. Just think of what the shooter could have done if he had gotten his hands on a plasma rifle in the 40 Watt range as well.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Hey, just what you see, pal.

  • ||

    I think this guy's a couple cans short of a six pack.

  • Pound. Head. On. Desk.||

    I think this guy's a couple cans short of a six pack.

    I knew it was time for a beer run!

  • Tman||

    Hicks: I wanna introduce you to a personal friend of mine. This is an M41A pulse rifle. Ten millimeter with over-and-under thirty millimeter pump action grenade launcher.

  • BarryD||

    Honestly, he probably could have done more damage with some bike locks, a couple of super soakers full of gasoline, and a Zippo.

    Self-defense against home invasion requires something like a good firearm that will fire more than a few rounds. Mass murder just requires someone to really want to kill a bunch of people for no good reason. There are plenty of tools one can use.

  • ||

    He also could have easily barricaded the exits and just set the place on fire. Damn, now we're going to have to ban fire.

  • BarryD||

    That's my point. With a little bit of improvised equipment, he could lock up the exits and start a fire that would engulf the theater very, very fast. Guaranteed large number of casualties. Nothing traceable. He could probably have done this, and ridden a bicycle back to his apartment to have a beer. Horrifying suffering, absolute terror in the town. He might have escaped capture, even.

    Mass murder is not so easy to prevent, and certainly not by banning specific tools. There are too many substitutes, for someone who wants to kill indiscriminately.

  • ||

    And that's assuming the ban will prevent the acquisition of the given tool, which it wouldn't.

  • Generic Stranger||

    Or he could have just used all the bombs he had made to booby trap his apartment with.

  • ||

    This is how you commit a mass murder. No firearms needed.

  • SIV||

    Kehoe was a piker compared to Julio Gonzalez

  • ||

    Found guilty on August 19, 1991, of 87 counts of arson and 87 counts of murder, González was charged with 174 counts of murder—two for each victim.

    By design, I am not a lawyer. However, I'm unsure how you charge a guy with 87 counts of arson for starting a single fire. And how do you murder people twice?

  • SIV||

    It's New York. He is eligible for parole in 2015 so 174 counts of murder don't count for much.

  • juris imprudent||

    DA: I studied law, not fucking advanced 'rithmatic.

  • MJGreen||

    Just imagine how much more damage he could have done if he had allied with Mexican drug cartels.

    WE NEED TO RAMP UP THE WAR ON DRUGS!!

  • rts||

    I mean, I get why that's funny and all, but I never understood why it was in the "40 Watt range". Assuming it's discharged very quickly, that isn't very many joules of energy for the plasma. It sounds like it is the .177 of plasma rifles.

  • ||

    I'm going to go out on a limb and assume Cameron wrote it because he thought it sounded cool and science-y without any real understanding of what it meant.

  • rts||

    And that's how we ended up with Titanic.

    (Ok, Ok, Titanic was just a vehicle for getting money to do ocean exploring, which is cool, but still...)

  • SIV||

    It sounds like it is the .177 of plasma rifles.

    Maybe he planned on taking it to Canada.

  • Rich||

    guns that allow you to shoot off 100 bullets in a couple of minutes

    Guns like a Smith and Wesson revolver?

  • Sevo||

    Rich|7.26.12 @ 6:06PM|#
    "guns that allow you to shoot off 100 bullets in a couple of minutes"

    The response is amusing when you point out that a 'semi-automatic weapon'(!) is just about any pistol made in the last hundred years.

  • SKR||

    That's pretty much my reaction too. A couple of minutes is 120 seconds. That's not a very high rate of fire.

  • 35N4P2BYY||

    Yeah I can say with a fair amount of certainty that I, and pretty much anyone that is familiar with a given weapon, could fire 100 *aimed* shots in two minutes easy even with the much less frightning 20 or 30 round mags.

  • ||

    IT'S NOT A CLIP - IT'S A MAGAZINE!!!GRRRRRR!

    /gunpedant

  • Rich||

    Let's just agree to call it a tax.

    /SCOTUS

  • rts||

  • ||

    /gunpedant

    Not pedantic at all. I HATE it when they write about high-capacity "clips." Aggravates the shit out of me.

  • ||

    That's just because you want the criminals to have streetsweeper assault machine gun semiutomatic handcannons.

    WE'RE ALL INNER CITY BLACK PEOPLE NOW.

  • Tulpa the White||

    An unnamed "law enforcement source with direct knowledge of the investigation" told CNN "these after-market extended magazines have a tendency to jam,"

    Unclear on why a person would need to be in law enforcement or be involved in the investigation to be a source for that information. They could have gone to the Gander Mtn or MidwayUSA product review pages and gotten actual names.

  • ||

    The notion needs to be perpetuated that only people in law enforcement are qualified to discuss guns, particulary the really scary, icky ones, such as the AR-15. Any civilian that owns such a weapon is dangerously ignorant of its capabilities, and would be a poor source of information regarding its techincal details.

  • Paul.||

    Have one internet, sir.

  • ||

    Gee thanks, mister!

    ;-)

  • ||

    Don't take that! Paul does gross things with the internet. You should go wash your hands.

  • ||

    What sorts of gross things? (Obviously, I'm asking purely from academic interest, not because I want to do what Paul's doing.)

  • ||

    The same sorts of things you and Warty do. Gross.

  • ||

    Oh, THAT. Hell, that's not gross. And it has the side benefit of keeping the dog busy.

  • ||

    Don't take that! Paul does gross things with the internet. You should go wash your hands.

    I guess that explains how I got shit under my fingernails. Thanks a lot, Paul.

    You sick freak.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Unclear on why a person would need to be in law enforcement or be involved in the investigation to be a source for that information.

    Because when your entire existence revolves around fellating the state, cops are among the most trustworthy authorities.

  • Johnimo||

    Yeah, let's relent on the assault weapons ban reinstatement. And in return, let's institute unlimited right to carry concealed (without a permit) throughout the US.

  • Paul.||

    That would be a start. They could at least start with open carry across the land. I have no problem demanding a license for conceal carry.

  • ||

    I do.

  • PapayaSF||

    Eh, compromise has to happen in a democracy. As long as getting the license isn't too restrictive.

  • ||

    Eh, compromise has to happen in a democracy. As long as getting the license isn't too restrictive.

    Most of the regulars around here are going to have a hard time understanding why they should have to pay for permission to exercise a basic human right, even if it's in the name of "compromise."

  • ant1sthenes||

    Concealment isn't an inherent part of RKBA or self-defense generally.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Concealment is part of the right to privacy. It's none of your business what preparatory measures someone else takes to defend themselves.

    -jcr

  • perlhaqr||

    If I have the right to carry a gun, I have the right to carry it under my coat, too.

  • Generic Stranger||

    There's really no point. We've already got four states that require no permit for OC or CC, and none of them seem to have had problems with it. Hell, Vermont's NEVER had a permit requirement.

    Permits don't prevent criminals from carrying; all they do is hamper law abiding citizens.

  • ||

    The other gun thread got full in a hurry, so I want to post again a video of what Obama might look like if he were to fire one:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqXLHzaEXh8

  • Hugh Akston||

    Whatevs dude. Obama didn't need a gun to kill Osama bin Laden.

  • MisterDamage||

    He didn't build that.

  • ||

    That was just cruel. And funny.

    Here's sage's gun.

  • ||

    No wonder I'm a terrible shot. It really is the gun, I swear!

  • Drake||

    How to make sure your chick never goes to the range with you again.

  • ||

    And how to make sure she isnt 'your' chic anymore.
    What a terrible asshole that guy is.

    Call me a stick-in-the-mud, but I never understood why causing someone pain, fear, or humiliation is supposed to be funny.

  • Paul.||

    While wearing a tee-shirt which says, in bold letters, "Fuck Y'all"

    He's total class.

    But she's with him, and not you. You beginning to get how this works, aren't you?

  • Drake||

    If I was single and antiquated with her, that probably wouldn't be hard to change. Unless she's one of those chicks who appreciates being treated like shit, in which case she's getting exactly what she wants.

  • LarryA||

    Ladies, listen up!

    Your first time shooting should never involve videorecording or a group of men watching.

  • TheZeitgeist||

    Check out some of Obama's distant cousins attempting to handle an elephant gun:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ged4lz_Fw2Y

    Classic.

  • ||

    Classic.

    Didn't even have to make clicky on the linky to know what videos you were talking about. Classic indeed.

  • Tulpa the White||

    it is not clear how often the outcomes of gun attacks depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than ten shots (the current magazine capacity limit) without reloading.

    Or how it would depend on the ability of victims to fire more than ten shots without reloading.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    My current magazine capacity limit for my AR15 is 30. My other AR15 (a 6.5 Grendel) is 20.

    I have no idea where these people get that a "standard" magazine only hold 10. In fact, of the 20something guns I own, not a single fucking one has a 10 round magazine. My pistols (all 1911s) hold 7 or 8. My bolt action rifles 4 or 5 depending on the caliber. But none are 10 round mags.

  • ||

    I think 10 became the defacto "standard" when the assault weapon ban was in effect and magazines were limited to 10 rounds. For what it's worth, none of my guns take 10 either.

  • LarryA||

    My Glock 30 has a 10-round magazine, but then it's labeled a "subcompact" model and the ten rounds are .45ACP.

  • Jeff||

    Left and "right".

  • BarryD||

    Brooks isn't a conservative. At all. But he does play one on TV.

  • juris imprudent||

    But he does play one on TV the bottom of the birdcage.

    FIFY

  • Jeff||

    But he does play one on the bottom.

    FIFY.

  • ant1sthenes||

    But he does play the bottom.

    FIFY

  • Spiny Norman||

    There are some parts of the gun control debate that are definitely open to, um, debate. There are parts that aren’t...

    There are parts of the debate that aren't open to debate?

  • Rich||

    The "um" part?

  • ||

    Yeah....not open to debate. I saw that too. The instant anyone says 'science is settled' or 'not open to debate' or 'we dont need to talk about that' I know they are extra full of shit.

  • JeremyR||

    Sadly, I don't think they will ever legalize fully automatic weapons. Or things like mortars and rocket launchers and cannons. Beyond the grandfathered stuff, anyway.

  • UneasyRider||

    There are a number of legal ways to get a fully automatic weapon. The process is expensive and invasive, but I know a couple of guys with Federal Firearms licenses. I believe they register as collectors. If you have the money and don't mind an extremely thorough background check, you can get one.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Gun-Banners are the left's equivalent of the Aborto-Freaks.

    The issues are settled by the SCOTUS (both of you). Grow up and shut up because you only alienate the political center.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tell that to Obama's Team, shrike. At your next meeting with them.

  • ||

    I'd like to see Gail Collins and David Brooks try to confiscate my firearms -- personally. Put your money where your mouths are, you prohibitionist fucks.

  • ||

    OT: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Boy11rMf50Q

    Limeys pissed off by trailer. Lol. "Ubisoft sold out to the Yanks."

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Fuck yeah!

    I'm all over this shit when it comes out. AC fucking rules.

  • Paul.||

    Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. AWs [assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.

    Won't power-hungry tyrants just argue that that without assault weapons, that crimes with these weapons would be even rarer, or non-existent?

  • ant1sthenes||

    If it saves even one life...

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Brooks probably doesn't mean that Holmes could have killed more people if he had not opted for that scary 100-round magazine, which ended up jamming, forcing him to switch guns.

    Maybe, maybe not. You could also say that he would have killed more people if he knew how to clear a jam. Good thing the gun club didn't accept his application.

  • Fluffy||

    If I opened the paper tomorrow and saw that Gail Collins died in a mass shooting, I'd applaud. I'd contribute to the defense fund of whoever whacked her.

    In her first piece on this topic, she applauded poll findings showing that a majority of NRA members would favor preventing people on the "Terrorist Watch List" from buying guns.

    She offered this up as common sense, bipartisan gun control policy everyone could agree on, when it's actually the worst possible gun control policy of all, one I'd violently oppose even if I favored gun control on the Chicago model - because it would deny people an enumerated right without due process, because some asshole who doesn't even have to identify themselves put their name on a list.

    Die, Gail Collins. Please, please die in a mass shooting. Please. I don't ask for much.

  • Killazontherun||

    This is why I read the editorial musings of Fluffy over anyone at the NYT. It's almost like he is human or something, and he never forgets about something as fundamental as due process; whereas, every single damn one of those scumfucks at the NYT give it about as much consideration in their rush in making atavistic and feverish calls to 'do something!' as a cat gives to the life of a mouse.

  • LarryA||

    It would be much more entertaining if she lived through a mass killing because a CHL saved her butt.

  • XM||

    Cho Seung Hee killed 30 people with 3 handguns (albeit in a more open environment). Predicting the casualty number based on the caliber of the firearm is splitting hair. The killer will make the adjustments if he's limited to less powerful guns.

    Speaking of Cho Seung Hee, of course his mental health made more headlines back then. People typically regard Asians as model, harmless citizens, and some Asian guy snapping under academic pressure fits a certain narrative. He was also immigrant and not white. NO need for gun control debate over a tragic, isolated incident that isn't likely to be committed by other Asian kids. His family's conservative and religious roots, irrelevant.

    But Jim Holmes, this guy might be a tea party member!

  • Bill Dalasio||

    If we're going to start banning things, can we please just ban the term "assault weapon" from the English language? It has no meaning and only serves to confuse brainless bobos (I'm looking at you Collins and Brooks) about the nature of their proposed laws.

  • Peter L||

    I agree, "assault weapon" is extremely vague since any weapon can be used for an assault.

    Perhaps they want to ban "assault rifles", meaning any semi-automatic or automatic rifle?

  • Killazontherun||

    I would hate to be the janitor over at the NYT when these massacres occur. Cleaning the cum stains from all the whacking off the editors do to these happenings must be a pretty disgusting job. The underside of Brook's desk probably looks like thousands of cobwebs spread out under there. When the janitor looks around for the spiders, he isn't going to find any. And Gail Collin seat smells like the stall the next morning when people realize the fishmonger died overnight. Watch out where you step for loose electrical wiring, mister, it's going to be moist beneath your feet.

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