A Primer on “Assault Weapons”
While not as loud and shrill as is usually the case after a “mass shooting,” the calls from some quarters to just do something about the availability of firearms to the general public are still there and making some news. At least one politician has taken to the airwaves to suggest that simply reimposing the “Assault Weapons Ban” passed during the Clinton administration would be a good start.
The AWB imposed magazine size restrictions, and limited firearms (generally of the rifle variety) to a certain number or type of accessories. Truth be told, however, this law did nothing but drive up the cost of ‘grandfathered’ guns and accessories, and made it harder for law-abiding citizens to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
So for a little bit of fun, let’s take a look at two weapons readily available today.
Here, we have a nice, “regular” rifle, traditional wood-type stock, appears suitable for many types of hunting, some ‘plinking’ at the range or in the back yard (if one has open space where such practice is allowed). Also looks like it would be right at home in a rack above the fireplace, perhaps with some mounted antlers near the fireplace, right?
Now take a look at this one:
(Apologies for borrowing the images from Gunbroker.com. If you like, you can go check out their auctions, and bid on them if the mood strikes.)
Looks quite a bit different? Synthetic material stock, pistol-style grip, and collapsible butt, appears that it would be more at home in some movie about chasing terrorists or in the hands of some military officer of a third-world dictatorship. Pretty scary, eh?
But this is a trick: Both of these are the same rifle! Ruger Mini-14, in .223 Remington caliber. Functionally, they are exactly the same: Semi-automatic, meaning one shot per trigger pull. The only difference between them is how they look.
This is a bit of a simplified example, I will grant you, however, it serves to illustrate the end result of the “Assault Weapons Ban.” I would need to know a few more specifics, however, more than likely the first version would be perfectly legal to purchase during the period of the law, and the second likely would have been banned (at least in some jurisdictions even today, if I’m not mistaken).
In fact, I believe that one could remove the stock, take out the actual gun part, and without any modifications, install it into the other stock, taking a “normal” hunting rifle and turning it into a “scary Army gun.” And both, again without modification, will accept 5-round, 20-round, and 30-round magazines and more.
So before anyone decides we must be just doing something about the country being “awash with killer guns,” we must be very careful to understand exactly what is being proposed, the effects it may have on otherwise law-abiding citizens, and any measure of effectiveness such laws may or may not have.
It is my hope that the politicians and advocate groups on all sides of this debate take great care to do just that. Knee-jerk reactions to tragedy often result in ineffective measures being taken just to prove a point.