The Sandy Hook School massacre has again brought the issue of gun control to the forefront.

U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein says she will try to renew the ban on assault weapons.   It was passed in 1994, but expired in 2004.

U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia voted for the ban and said this week that it’s “unacceptable that it hasn’t been reauthorized.”

Joe Manchin, the more conservative of the state’s two Democratic Senators, has expressed his willingness to consider limiting the availability of high-powered assault weapons.  Manchin, who is a hunter and has an “A” rating from the NRA, said he does not understand the necessity for assault rifles and 30-round clips.

But before rushing headlong into renewal of the ban, Congress and the country need a serious and factual debate about how it works and what it might achieve.

One of the most often quoted studies about the assault weapons ban comes from the University of Pennsylvania.  That 2004 report to the Justice Department found that the ten-year ban on certain semiautomatic firearms did not necessarily make the country any safer.

“We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence,” the report concluded.  “And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

However, there are some important caveats to those findings.

The study points out that prior to the ban, so-called assault rifles were used in only two to eight percent of all gun crimes.  The vast majority of gun crimes were committed with weapons not included in the ban.

Additionally, the ban grandfathered in 1.5 million privately owned assault weapons and nearly 25 million guns equipped with large capacity magazines.  (The ban limited magazine capacity to 10 bullets in most cases.)

“The ban’s exemption of millions of pre-ban AWs (assault weapons) and LCMs (large capacity magazines) ensures that the effects of the law would only occur gradually,” the study concluded.

The study’s findings suggest that simply renewing the assault weapon ban as it existed from 1994 to 2004 wouldn’t significantly impact gun violence.  But what if a new ban went farther?

Australia imposed a stricter version of an assault weapons ban in 1996, banning all semiautomatic rifles.  According to the Washington Post, Australia “spent $500 million buying up nearly 600,000 guns from private owners.”

The Post quotes a British Medical Journal study that said gun violence dropped and the country went a decade without any fatal mass shootings.

These are emotional times.  Every American has been touched by the horror in Newtown and the desire to do something.

And something should be done to try to ensure that mentally deranged individuals cannot get their hands on lethal weapons and carry out mass killings.

But whatever we do should be fact-driven and geared toward a realistic expectation of what can be accomplished.

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Comments

  • RobG

    This isn't about a confrontation with the military it's about the bill of rights and the truth. I stated the truth and the truth is even with a ban there will continue to be violence and mass killings unless real no nonsense actions are taken. Schools need better security and as a parent and I'm sure many are in agreement that that does not have a cost. There are many options and disarming law abiding citizenry is the stupidest thing you can do. It solves nothing! If you want to really solve this issue you have to get to the roots of the problem and do something about it. That's the answer.

    • chad

      Confronting a millitary(foreign or domestic) IS what the 2nd amendment.is all about. And yes better security at schools will have a cost. When was the last time you got anything that was any good for free?

      And i'm not talking about disarming civilians. I'm not even talking about an all out ban on assault rifles and semi-auto pistols. I'm talking about severely limiting access. It should be harder to get an AR-15 than it is to get a a case of beer,thats all I'm saying. Because right now its about the same.

  • RobG

    I've got news for everybody who thinks a ban will do anything. 1- prior to the last ban I could still get high capacity magazines made before the ban and I did. 2- I bought an ar15 in 2001 after 9/11 and there were 3 things that made it differ from the ones I have now, no bayonet lug,no flash hider and no collapsible stock. What that means is it didn't effect my ability to shoot it quickly. 3- criminals don't care about the laws and disarming the public only makes them stronger. Another thing for all you liberals who want a assault weapons ban to make yourselves "feel better" is that the 2nd amendment is not about hunting it's about defense of our nation from enemies foreign or DOMESTIC and defense of ourselves against crime. The problem isn't guns it's the policies set forth by the government and gun free zones are a major issue. Had one person been armed and trained they could have taken that psycho out before he killed all of those babies. This should have been addressed after 9/11 honestly. Ask yourselves this, why do we have armed air Marshall's and not have armed security guarding our most precious resource our children? Get the facts before you tread on liberty because once its gone tyranny takes root and YOU have to fight to get it back. Ask a veteran they know.

    • chad

      Rob
      I am in complete agreement that there should be an armed guard in every school across America, no doubt. However somebody is going to have to pay for that. Pay for the training, pay for the guns, pay for the ammunition, pay for body armor and pay a salary. Are the conservative Republicans willing to pay more taxes to fund such a program? How about the Almighty NRA? Maybe they should fit the bill. Or maybe owners of registered assault riffles registered should pay for it.

      And don't kid yourself, guns aren't going to protect you from the Government and the U.S. Millitary. The isn't 1776. They have drones, missles (with nuclear warheads), RPG's, tanks, submarines, fighter jets, stealth bombers, battleships.Blackhawk helicopters the list goes on and on. You think a couple million yayhoos armed with assault rifles and semi automatic pistols would really have any chance what so ever?? This isn't Syria son. You've been under government control for a long long time. And as long as you live in this country you always will be. Your "freedom" is an illusion.

  • chad

    I said this in another post but it bears repeating here. If you need an AR-15 and a 30 round clip to "protect yourself" maybe you should take a look in the mirror at some of the other life choices you've made and the life style you're living. Seriously who have you angered so much that you need that kind of fire power?

    Only drug dealers and soldiers need assault rifles and large capacity magazines. That being said drug dealers typically only kill other drug dealers and people who owe them a lot of money, which i really have no problem with. They don't go on mass killing sprees, That would be bad for business.

    And If you need more than 5 or 6 rounds to protect yourself maybe you should visit the shooting range more often because you're not a very good shot.

    • Dave

      I love when people talk about what gun owners "need." No one "needs" this and no one "needs" that. That's nice, anyone that thinks it's all about need have a boat? Why do you live on an island? How many people that have a boat NEED a boat? Oh, it's about fun.... but guns always have to be about need.

      • chad

        Last time I checked boats don't walk into 1st grade classrooms and mow down 20 kids and 6 adults in about 60 seconds. Nice try though.

  • Wowbagger

    This afternoon I stopped by a local hardware that includes a gun shop. The consensus was that Joe Manchin should not consider running for another term.

    These people have long memories when they are burned up about something like this!

    • Wowbagger

      Oh,

      The gun shop normally has a lot of stock and they were totally out of true AR-15s. They said they had quite a run yesterday.

  • Dave

    Paul,

    An assault weapon as defined by the people proposing a new ban is defined as any semi auto rifle that has military accessories. It's not based on function but on looks.

    My theory is they got the ban in the 90s because almost no one used these semi automatic military look weapons. They still are hardly ever used in crime, criminals prefer handguns over anything else.

    The problem they will discover with a ban this time is since the first ban these military style semi auto rifles have gone mainstream and have become very popular for competition, plinking and now even hunting. Hardly anyone cared if these rifles were banned in the 90s but now the majority of gun owners probably care.

    Even the gun ban fans are smart enough to know they can't call for a ban on handguns or an all semi auto rifles. They usually go for what they think they can get and then go for more and more over time off that base.

    Maybe they could try for a ban on side cock muzzleloader rifles, I think most people might give those up? I know, I'm kidding but some states require an FFL on a muzzleloader now. Tell me why, I can't figure out why. When is the last time a muzzleloader was used in a crime.

  • CaptainQ

    UPDATE: Looks like Joe Manchin IS going into major backpedal/damage control mode now:

    http://wvmetronews.com/senator-manchin-attempts-clarification/

    Love him or hate him, you gotta admit he's a very skilled POLITICIAN.

    • Wowbagger

      Ole Joe does take after his uncle. I am not a fan, but to his credit Joe is better at reading a financial statement than his uncle A. James.

  • GregG

    Jeff, I couldn't agree more with #4!! I have a 10 and a 5 year old that get their butt busted as needed. As I have mentioned before I waited untill late in my years to have children and now I have came to realize everytime I go to one of their school or sports events that there is a generation and a half that missed out on a few butt bustings. It's all I can do sometimes to keep from catching some of them up with the spankings they didn't receive when growing up. It is sickening the actions and attitudes of alot of these parents. It isn't any wonder the kids are the way they are today. Until this country figures out that we need to get back to a point where one parent can be at home to raise their children instead of both parents having to work two to three jobs I don't see things getting any better in the future. TV's, Iphones and Wii are the parents of today....... and I don't think it is working out to well. My 10 year old thinks I'm the Devil because I won't let her have a cell phone, but one of these days she might thank me for being a father that didn't give in to her every want.

  • Paul

    First point, I've yet to hear in the raging debates since last Friday's tragedy anyone define what an "assault weapon" is. Is it based on muzzle velocity? Magazine capacity? Range? Any of the above or a combination thereof?
    Next, seems there's always a knee jerk "we've got to ban....." after any tragedy or catastrophe. Mostly what gets banned is common sense and open dialogue.
    Finally, how many did Timothy McVeigh kill without firing a shot? Nothing was banned as a result. Guns and gunowners are just convenient targets (no pun intended.)

  • Mac

    Ack! Jeff is supporting child abuse! (That's sarcasm btw)

  • GregG

    In my opinion I think everyone, from the media to Manchin to the NRA, needs to sit down and shut up. This knee jerk reaction isn't going to correct the problem. What happened at Sandy Hook is far more complicated than just "Gun control". I personally do not believe anyone needs "assult rifles" but I have enough common sense to know that trying to "ban" such weapons would be as ridiculous as the "war on drugs". If anything needs to be "banned" it should be all this touchy feely political correct BS that refuses to accept the fact that mental health issues are a problem. I do not mean to sound cold hearted but the truth is some people just cannot cope in society and these people need help. And I myself don't believe for one minute that treating a mentally ill person as a "normal person" is helpful to them. Maybe I'm coming off as callous but after growing up with a family memeber thats mentall illness was "looked over" all his life, that is just the way I feel. All them years "looking the other way" thinking they were "helping him" in the end only got him time in a federal prison. And sadly, inocent people were hurt by his actions. Maybe I'm an ass, but my childrens lives a far more important than this "political correctness" regarding mentally unstable individuals. Instead of fighting about "gun control" and "God in school" we should be replacing the mental hospitals that were closed and getting these people and their families help.

    • wirerowe

      Greg I very much agree with your statement about mental health which is at the core of the problem on issues like occurred at Sandy Hook elementary.. I do believe that these episodes will occur unless our mental health outreach and dealing with these individuals is improved no matter what we do to the gun laws. But I think they are made much worse by the firepower that is on the street. How to deal with that in a meaningful way within the constitution is complex.

      • GregG

        I have to agree wireowe it is very complex, and from the comments I have heard over the past few days some seem to place more value on the "right" to own any type of weapon over the lives of others. Do I think a "ban" will help? No, but I can see atleast having the discussion about some of the types of guns, ammo and clips that are readily available. Being a hunter and someone that pretty much grew up with a gun in my hand I find it impossible to believe that anyone needs any type of weapon that can be made "fully auto" or have a need for a 30 round clip. Now I myself ain't all about hanging the tag "assult weapon" on everything, but I am a firm believer in using a little common sense on this matter. And this argument that "it's not for hunting but for protection" is ridiculous. Anyone that THINKS a AR-15 or M4 offers more protection than a shotgun during a home invasion........well let's just say they shouldn't own a gun period. And for the fools that say its for protection from our government, trust me pal, if our government wants YOU all the guns and ammo you can pack in your house isn't going to save your simple.......

    • Shadow

      Sometimes we are on difference ends of the spectrum but you are right on about Mental Health issues. It is the most significant health issue that affects others beside the patient. How much heartache it can cause and we sweep it under the rug like we did breast cancer several decades. Mental Heath should not be a disgrace to anyone and should be attacked straight on with vigor. There might not be a cure but there can be remedys that reduce the effect to the patient and society.

    • Dave

      Excellent point, especially since the Sandy Hook shooter didn't even use a so called assault weapon, he used two handguns.

      • chad

        check your facts Dave. Killed himself with the handgun. Sprayed down innocent chidren with the AR-15

        • Uncle Fester

          Chad, Check YOUR facts. The hand guns were used to kill. The kid didn't have an AR-15. An M4 style rifle was found in his car in the parking lot of the school.

          • chad

            UF.
            It was a Bushmaster.223 semi automatic assault rifle. Turn on the news once in a while

  • chad

    You're right on the money mntnman. And "Shadow" Adolf Obama???Realy?? Grow up and get in touch with reality. And how about a little respect for all those Jewish souls who were eradiacated by Hitler. You conservatives lose all respect and credibility when you come out with Hilter refernces to Obama. No wonder the Republican party is in such a downward spiral and being left behind

    • Shadow

      Do you not think that Obama acts like Hitler? Read the history of Germany in the 30's. As to respect for the Jews and others that were killed by Hitler, I have the most respect. I support Israel in their problems with the Arabs and that is more than Adolph Obama is doing. At Dachau, the Jews have erected a sign that says in four languages, "Never Again? When I stood there and overlooked what was left of the Concentration Camp, I made an oath to myself, "Never" will that happen to me, my family, or my friends. Never to be collected and killed in cold blood by any person or government That is why I support the Second Amendment and the right to AR15s with 30-round magazines.

  • Wowbagger

    A couple of points.

    ... Hoppy, you have developed a bad case of tunnel vision. Gun violence in Australia and the UK did drop after draconian measures. The overall rate of violent crime, particularly home invasions when the occupants are in the home have steadily increased in both of those countries. In much of the US home invasions are a dangerous business as the invader knows he is likely to find himself on the wrong end of whatever gun is at hand. As a result the US rate of home invasion is very low. The UK is the most pitiful. They now have a campaign to ban pointy kitchen knives spearheaded by chefs.

    Is overall crime important or is gun crime the only important issue and beating up frail old men and women while invading their homes looking for money for drugs acceptable?
    ... Your choice.

    The Supreme Court has already determined that the job of the Police is to maintain law and order, but they have no legal obligation to protect you as an individual.

    ... I heard an interesting, but obscure statistic recently. According to Economists John Lott and William Landes in a 1999 study that every mass murder, but one committed in the US since 1950 has been committed in a "gun free zone". I heard Mr Lott state yesterday that this hasn't changed since 1999. This is counter intuitive, but it is obvious to me that society is creating these "gun free" murder zones where honest citizens are unarmed in order to to feel good.

    ... To all of those Joe Manchin lovers out there: ... I told you so. Mr. Manchin is all about self promotion. As Governor he posed more than once with borrowed fully automatic State Police M4s for photo ops with the press, not to mention his notorious commercial. For this and his legislative record he got his A rating with the NRA-ILA. He used his own hunting rifle as it fit the narrative and borrowing an M4 from one of his armed guards would have been a violation of election law as they are state property. Now he is getting all sorts of publicity by changing sides. As he will be 71 at the end of his term I suspect this is a signal he intends become a high paid lobbyist at the end of this term so he doesn't need you, the voter any more, but lots of publicity during his term will raise his ultimate asking price. Look forward to a lot more self promotion by Joe Manchin.

    ... When Joe Manchin was elected Governor he realized that balancing the state's books would garner votes and neutralize Republican competition. If he had thought that spending West Virginia to total insolvency was to his advantage he would have accomplished this with just as much fervor. Ultimately Mr. Manchin is a garden variety self promoting Politician and doesn't care what his constituents think just like Jay Rockefeller. The only difference is that Joe couldn't buy the office like Jay so he had to play the political game including a few setbacks. In my experience and I have some experience politicians are just not like everyday people.

    • Mac

      Only one mass murder was in a gun free zone? I can think of two mass murders in western PA in the last two years that were not in gun free zones. In both cases multiple law enforcement officers were murdered.

      • Mac

        correction: Only one mass murder was NOT in a gun free zone?

        • Wowbagger

          Oops... Thanks!

          That is what I intended to say. Wordsmithing in this interface is sometimes difficult.

  • Dave

    You got to remember party pulls the purse strings, you go along or next election, you might not see the funds you need.

  • HMAALLTHEWAY

    As I read this article I am inclined to agreed with Shadow that our fiscal house needs to be in order. As a conservative, law abiding Christian, avid hunter I will say this. If every law abiding citizen gives up their assault rifles, how long will it take to get those guns out of the hands of the criminals? You won't ! It will open up black market sales with no way to track who has what type of weapons.
    Furthermore, we have enough gun laws our problem is enforcement and the punishment to those offenders. After speaking with a dear friend of mine and a registered Democrat, agrees with me on this one matter. We should stop rewarding criminals who committ these unspeakable crimes with 3 square meals, medical care and dailey basketball games in the yard at prisons around the country.

    What should happen, is their life should be forfeited ! Any human rights they may have enjoyed are now over as their victims human rights are.
    Hoppy, I will in closing say this, "what we allow we teach" 150 years ago if a man stole a horse he was summarily tried and taken to the gallows. Now a days, they recieve better health care and mental health services than their victims ever had access to.
    Criminal rehabilitation? How about some criminal elimination!! Until the criminal knows and understands, that there is some justice waiting on him ,instead of a roof over his head and 3 square meals a day. Our problems as a nation will only continue.
    God Bless

  • dazedbutnotconfused

    Two things, first, nearly all the comments I've read on Senator Manchin's Facebook page against gun regulation are from people who, from what they post, are very similar to the Connecticut shooter's mother. They love their firearms, believe the Second Amendment gives them the absolute right to own as many of nearly any firearm they choose and, quite likely like the shooter's mom, don't properly store and secure them. To be able to quickly access and use the firearms they cherish, nearly everyone in their homes would also have access. All it takes is for one of those people in the home to have a really, really bad day, and we have the potential for something like Connecticut.
    Second, for any civilian assault weapon ban and above 10-round clip or magazine ban to be successful, none can be grandfathered. That's right, they all should be turned in. Anything else is ludicrous.
    Many people have said that only lawbreakers will have these guns and clips if such a ban is enacted, while quite clearly indicating that they will join the lawbreakers if such a ban is enacted. Such an attitude demonstrates a lack of respect for law and, if respect for law is gone, from where does the Second Amendment get its power?

    • Wowbagger

      The fifth amendment prohibits the confiscation of property by government without compensation. My guess is that there are at least 100,000,000 to 300,000,000 high capacity magazines (more than ten rounds) in civilian hands in the US. This includes semi automatic hand gun magazines. These are probably worth between $10.00 and $50.00 with a few as much as $100.00. How do you propose to compensate the owners for taking their property?

      • dazedbutnotconfused

        Perhaps tax credits could be used to compensate the possessors of such potentially banned products? However, if something is illegal, the right to possess it legally disappears. When slavery ended, the previous 'owners' weren't compensated for the loss of their 'property' - and nor should they have been.
        I don't actually advocate this, but I think it's absurd to discuss banning the future sale of such items without somehow addressing the existing items.
        I hold the shooter responsible for his actions, and I hold his mother as equally responsible. I'm sorry she's dead, but would she want to be alive knowing what she, by her failure to secure her firearms, helped happen? My concern with these types of firearms remains that they are difficult, if not impossible, to securely store and yet still be available if home protection is needed. Such firearms, improperly stored, are a potential danger to all.
        I wish I had an answer, but I don't.