Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban Wouldn’t Prevent Mass Shootings; Speaks Before Facts Are Known

Feinstein Assault Weapons Ban: Sen. Diane Feinstein renews calls for an Assault Weapon Ban would  not prevent mass shootings. What’s more, the Sr. Senator from California renewed her perennial call to ban before the facts of the Navy Yard Shooting were clear.
Following the tragedy at the Washington Naval Yard in Washington, D.C., Senator Feinsten is renewing her perennial call for more gun control laws. Feinstein said: “When will enough be enough? Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life.”

Which begs the question, what could have been done that was not already done that might have prevented this tragedy?

Washington Naval Yard is a military installation located in the nation’s capital. As a military site, it is a gun-free zone. Located in D.C., it is illegal to carry a gun outside of your home. Access to the Naval Yard requires passing an armed checkpoint. It doesn’t get much more ‘controlled’ than that.

“This is one more event to add to the litany of massacres that occur when a deranged person or grievance killer is able to obtain multiple weapons — including a military-style assault rifle — and kill many people in a short amount of time,” Feinstein said.

NBC news reported that the attack began with a shotgun, but by the end of the incident, the attacker also had picked up a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 off a fallen police officer; a victim of the shooting. CNN also reported that, “sources, who have detailed knowledge of the investigation, cautioned that initial information that an AR-15 was used in the shootings may have been incorrect”, and that the weapons besides the shotgun “may have been taken from guards at the Navy complex.” So “obtain” in this case appears to mean taking off the body of a murdered police officer armed with the weapons. One wonders what law even could prevent such a thing from occurring in the future. UPDATE: FBI confirmed NO AR-15 was used, after the initial publication of this article.

Feinstein’s comment about the “endless loss of life” is also wrong. As I have written in this column recently, in the last 20 years homicides, violent crime and gun murder have been cut by 50% – in the case of gun murders in particular, they have dropped significantly by 65% since 1993.

This gets us to the heart of the matter: a so-called “assault weapons” ban does not reduce crime or prevent mass shootings. Calling for one, while grandstanding and exploiting a tragedy to push a personal agenda, may make for a nice soundbyte for unscrupulous politicians, but it ultimately futile. They admit as much. There are several problems that make any assault weapons ban unworkable.

First, rifles – which includes bolt-action, semi-automatic rifles that are not labeled “assault weapons”, like the rancher Mini-14, as well as so-called “assault weapons” – are rarely used in homicides. FBI data for 2011, the latest year available shows 323 murders with any type of rifle. Handguns are by far the most commonly used gun in homicide at 6,220 (out of 12,664 total homicides). So even if legislation were successful in preventing 100% of all rifle homicides, it still is minuscule reduction in the overall murder rate.

Also relevant is that Feinstein’s failed attempt at renewing a federal assault weapon ban from earlier this year specifically exempted over 2,258 makes and models of rifles she believed were ‘hunting rifles’ (apparently ignorant of the fact that AR-15 rifles can be chambered to fire a plethora of ammunition from .22LR, to .50BMG and is used to hunt everything from varmint to deer, hog, elk and large game). Included in this list are many varieties of shotgun rifles. There was nothing in it to prevent the Naval Yard shooter from legally possessing the shotgun he began his attack with.

Second, there is the problem of all the existing weapon stock that would be “grandfathered in.” This means already purchased so-called “assault weapons” would be exempted and their owners allowed to keep possession of them; only new purchases would be banned under the failed bill. This means that the millions of so-called “assault rifles” are still available for use.

Third, the highest year for mass shootings – 2003 – occurred during the last federal Assault Weapons Ban. Columbine and Virginia Tech occurred during the federal Assault Weapons Ban. The Virginia Tech shooter – the worst school shooting in U.S. History – used handguns & mostly 10-round magazines. There is no logical reason to conclude that a ban would prevent a future mass shooting, because past bans did not. Academic researchers and government agencies conclude the same thing: the CDC, National Research Council and others found the last federal Assault Weappons ban produced no clear, measurable reduction in crime or mass shootings.

UPDATE: Feinstein's proposed ban would not include the shotgun used by the shooter at the Navy Yard. This means even if she were able to see this legislation enacted, it would have had ABSOLUTELY NO effect on this shooting.

Feinstein’s comments amount to empty rhetoric and meaningless hyperbole. Her failed, proposed legislation would not be a solution to end “enough is enough”. When one considers her words to “resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence” one wonders if she means speaking before the facts of this case are fully known, or pushing a policy that is known from the start to be a non-solution.

By Matt MacBradaigh. Matt is a Christian, Husband, Father, Patriot, and Conservative from the Pacific Northwest. Matt writes about the Second Amendment, Gun Control, Gun Rights, and Gun Policy issues and is published on The Bell TowersThe Brenner Brief, PolicyMic. TavernKeepers, and Vocativ.

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This article also appears on The Brenner Brief. (Original publication September 17, 2013).

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