Would Adam Lanza's Rifle Have Been Covered by the Federal 'Assault Weapon' Ban?

On Sunday Meet the Press host David Gregory asserted that the .223-caliber Bushmaster M4 carbine used by Adam Lanza in his murderous attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School "would have been banned under the [federal] assault weapons ban." Progressive activist Robert Creamer makes the same claim in a Huffington Post piece:

We have allowed the ban on this particular weapon of mass destruction to expire. As a result, a terrorist named Adam Lanza was able to have easy access to the assault weapons he used to kill scores of children in minutes.

The caption on an infographic in today's New York Times is slipperier but leaves the same impression: "This Colt AR-15-type rifle is similar to the one used by Adam Lanza to kill 26 children and adults in a school in Newtown, Conn. It would have been an illegal assault weapon in the United States from 1994 to 2004, but it now can be purchased readily." 

In fact, as I noted yesterday, the rifle Lanza used is not covered by Connecticut's "assault weapon" law or by the federal ban, which used similar criteria. Both laws ban the Colt AR-15 by name, but rifles not on the list of forbidden models are banned only if they have detachable magazines plus at least two of these five features: 1) a folding or telescoping stock, 2) a pistol grip, 3) a bayonet mount, 4) a grenade launcher, and 5) a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor. The gun used by Lanza was legal in Connecticut, so it did not meet these criteria, which means it also would have been legal under the federal ban that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) promises to reintroduce next month (a bill President Obama supports).

The New York Times implicitly acknowledges that fact in the fourth sentence of its caption after leaving the opposite impression in the first two (emphasis added): "Under Connecticut law and the national ban that lapsed in 2004, an assault weapon is a semi-automatic rifle with a removable magazine that also has two other military-style features." The rifle pictured in the Times has all five of the listed features, so in that sense it clearly is not "similar to the one used by Adam Lanza." It is similar in the sense that none of those features really matters for a man bent on killing innocent people, but that similarity reveals the folly of trying to distinguish between "good" and "bad" guns.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Irrelevant.

  • AlmightyJB||

    The facts always are. It's much easier to pretend to be informed than to actually try and do so.

  • sarcasmic||

    I wonder if the Kill-o-Zap blaster pistol would be banned.

  • Tim||

    The Point of View Gun is a device created by Douglas Adams for the movie version[3] of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy; it does not appear in any of the previous versions of the story.[4]

    According to the film, the gun was created by Deep Thought prior to its long pondering of the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything. When used on someone, it will cause them to see things from the point of view of the person firing the gun (the Guide says that it "conveniently, does precisely as its name suggests"). According to the Guide, though the gun was designed by Deep Thought, it was commissioned by the Intergalactic Consortium of Angry Housewives, who were tired of ending every argument with their husbands with the phrase: "You just don't get it, do you?"

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Notice how the Dems are slow-walking the ball up the court? Feinstein and Manchin are both in safe seats and just won reelection.

  • Tim||

    I expect the new approach will stipulate what guns are approved. Revolvers. Break open shotguns and bolt action rifles with internal magazines of no more than five rounds.

  • Bam!||

    So the TV show "Revolution"?

  • OldMexican||

    It is similar in the sense that none of those features really matters for a man bent on killing innocent people, but that similarity reveals the folly of trying to distinguish between "good" and "bad" guns.


    Remember that Fabians always work in small steps - first, they give the impression that there IS such a thing as a "bad" gun compared to the "not as bad" guns. After burning that meme into people's minds, then they proceed to demonize the next batch of weapons until we end up with Congress banning baseball bats; or even self-defense a la U.K.

  • John||

    That is just it. As long as there is a gun in existence that I can steal or buy illegally, no gun control will ever work to stop murders. If I am willing to murder someone, I am certainly willing to steal a gun or buy one illegally. So any solution short of seizing and destroying every gun in the world is doomed to fail.

    So every "reasonable gun control" measure they propose is doomed to fail and result in calls for more gun control.

  • sarcasmic||

    That's the part that just doesn't sink in.

    I mean, how is threat of a misdemeanor going to deter someone from committing a felony?

    "I better not steal that gun to commit this murder because I sure don't want risk having six months in jail tacked onto a life sentence in prison if I get caught."

    Derp!

  • OldMexican||

    Re: sarcasmic,

    I mean, how is threat of a misdemeanor going to deter someone from committing a felony?


    The point of those laws is not to disarm felons.

    "Laws that forbid the carrying of arms...disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man." (Cesare Beccaria)

  • free2booze||

    Was discussing this topic with a guy from northern Iraq the other night. He's Kurdish, and his family moved to the states when he was in his teens. He explained to me all of the ways that people made home made guns and explosives under Saddam. Long story short, you can make a firing pin by attaching a hard piece of metal to a piece of surgical tubing, attach it to the end of a long metal pipe, load a round into the pipe, and launch the surgical tubing sling shot style towards the round.

  • John||

    And with the coming of 3D printing, it will just get easier. You will basically be able to printout a weapon in the comfort of your own home.

  • PapayaSF||

    Well, you will be able to print some parts, but not things like barrels, which are now considered spare parts and (AFAIK) not regulated. So expect calls for them to be regulated.

  • free2booze||

    So any solution short of seizing and destroying every gun in the world is doomed to fail.

    You would have to go even further than that. Once guns become banned and seized, how long will it take for a black market gun manufacturing industry to pop up? The government would need to regulate and/or seize any machining equipment that could be used to make a firearm.

    Bring on the War on Guns, and the increase in violence that goes along with any form of prohibition.

  • RG||

    This is what I've been trying to hammer home to people. We banned alcohol and it found a violent, underground market. We banned drugs, and I'd be willing to bet it is a major driver on our gun violence rates.

  • free2booze||

    And guess who depends on illegal weapons to protect the black market drug industry? Any bets on who will control the new black market gun industry?

    What could go wrong?

  • RG||

    Synergy!

  • Loki||

    The government would need to regulate and/or seize any machining equipment that could be used to make a firearm.

    So no more lathes, no more drill presses, not more metal working machines of any kind. In short, not more manufactureing anything, ever. Sounds like a hard left enviro-weenie's wet dream.

  • Drake||

    That - and guns are pretty damn easy to make.

  • Palin's Buttplug||

    Oh, not the Fabians!

    Like Reagan when he made certain type ammo illegal? (or "bad" as you put it)

  • John||

    Face it dipshit, your side has dropped the mask. Now go die in a fire and stop stealing my air.

  • OldMexican||

    Re: Palin's Buttwipe,

    Like Reagan when he made certain type ammo illegal?


    You shake around the name "Reagan" as if it mattered to me one way or the other. Why is that, Buttwipe?

    Reminds me of the story of the two monks, one young and one old. They find a lovely maiden trying to cross a shallow river. The old monk offers to take her on his shoulders, places her on the other side and then returns. Both the young monk and the old continue to walk in silence until, bursting with curiosity, the young monk says: "I have to know! What was it like to carry such a beautiful young maiden in your shoulders? To feel her warm tighs around your neck?"

    "I should ask you what it feels like," replied the old monk, "for I left her on the other side of the river an hour ago, yet you still carry her on your shoulders!"

    You're still carrying Reagan on your shoulders, Buttwipe. I should ask YOU instead.

  • PapayaSF||

    Nice story.

  • Tommy_Grand||

    You can tell home much the "assault weapons" ban matters by asking Democrats what they'd be willing to surrender in a deal to achieve such legislation. tax cuts? individual mandate? fracking? affirmative action? entitlement cuts? anything?

  • John||

    ^^THIS^^

  • sarcasmic||

    Uh, I think you forgot what compromise means.

    Compromise means the Democrats get their way while the other side gives something up.

    "In any compromise between food and poison, it is only death that can win. In any compromise between good and evil, it is only evil that can profit."
    -Ayn Rand

  • John||

    If the GOP wasn't the stupid party, they would pass a really strict weapons ban out of the House but attach it to about ten different liberal sacred cows

    1. Keystone
    2. regulation of CO2
    3. Funding PBS
    4. The individual mandate
    5. Fracking

    And a few others. And then tell liberals, "just how important are children's lives to you?"

  • Lost_In_Translation||

    John, the electoral terrorist.

  • PapayaSF||

    I like the idea of banning all members of Congress and employees of the executive branch (perhaps exempting the President and VP) from having guns or armed bodyguards.

  • albo||

    Compromise:

    Lion: I want to eat all of you.
    Antelope: I don't want to be eaten.
    Lion: Okay, we'll compromise. I'll only eat half of you.

  • Tim||

    Shooting someone is bad, bayoneting them is beyond the pale. Don't even think of grenade launchering them.

  • ||

    a terrorist named Adam Lanza

    War on terror, bitches!

  • John||

    Al Quada just called, they are filing suit for slander.

  • nicole||

    Hmm, it seems that some people are using the First Amendment...irresponsibly...

    Someone should clearly Do Something.

  • fish||

    Any confirmation on todays rumor that the Feinstein bill that yesterday only applied to future sales has now been revised to require existing weapons to be surrendered?

  • R C Dean||

    the .223-caliber Bushmaster M4 carbine used by Adam Lanza in his murderous attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School "

    I didn't think he used the rifle. Have I missed something?

  • John||

    I heard he left the rifle in the car. But even if he didn't, it is not like he couldn't have done just as much damage with a handgun.

  • free2booze||

    the new story is that he used the Bushmaster, and left a shotgun in the car.

  • Benjamin||

    There is only so much that is politically possible. If the original federal ban was so benign, as the author points out, and it becomes apparent that there is no way out of this without doing SOMETHING, I imagine they'll ban high round magazines. Still, the lack of research these journalists conduct is astounding.

  • free2booze||

    Yes, ban high round magazines. Once magazine capacity is no longer a factor when it comes to purchasing a hand gun, people will opt out of buying a less powerful 9 mm in favor of a more powerful .45. We'll still have gun massacres, but with bigger bullets!

    Unintended consequences are a bitch

  • Loki||

    We have allowed the ban on this particular weapon of mass destruction to expire. As a result, a terrorist named Adam Lanza was able to have easy access to the assault weapons he used to kill scores of children in minutes.

    Ugh, fucking spare me. Thanks for reading the Huff Post so that I don't have to.

  • albo||

    Congress will pass something to pass something, then bray on about their goodness and go home. And it will do no good at all.

    The only thing that will work is banning all civilian ownership of guns and go door to door collecting the 200 million to 310 million that are in the hands of Americans. The left knows this, but they know it's impossible.

  • R C Dean||

    I've heard 300 million guns in America.

    At, call it $300 per gun, that's gonna cost $100 billion to seize all that property.

    I want to see Congress try to appropriate that much money, for this purpose.

  • Drake||

    It will cost more than that. Since the military would refuse the orders, the ATF would have to be vastly expanded to carry out the seizures.

    Then there are all the costs of the ensuing civil war...

  • Silent Cal||

    It is similar in the sense that none of those features really matters for a man bent on killing innocent people

    Disagree. It may not matter to this particular man bent on killing innocent people, but a grenade launcher might make a difference to some mass murderers. None of the rest of the features would, but a grenade launcher might.

    None of this is an argument to ban any definition of assault rifle, just a nitpick in the interest of honesty.

  • R C Dean||

    That grenade launcher isn't going to do much without grenades, you know. And I don't think those are available to any civilian.

  • Silent Cal||

    Not legally, but they are available.

  • R C Dean||

    they are available

    Well, then, we should outlaw them!

    /guntard off/

  • ||

    a grenade launcher might make a difference to some mass murderers.

    With or without the grenade launcher can I go down to Sports Authority and pick up grenades to be launched? Which is to say is a grenade launcher much good without grenades?

  • GILMORE||

    This whole "grenade launcher" bullshit i believe is a misreading of the NFA, or AWB. I believe what is banned is *the capability to attach* said M79 to a firearm. A la the 'bayonet lug' issue. They want to remove 'military features'. No one was ever selling civilian-legal 40MM grenade launchers...

  • ||

    If you tape two bananas together at right-angles, put a metal washer on the end of one and a pistol grip (even one made from a toilet paper tube) on the other end, and use it to launch rubber bands, it would fit the definition of assault weapon.

    The resulting "assault weapon" fires projectiles, has a detachable "magazine" (the second banana) and has both a bayonet lug and a pistol grip.

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