Thursday, November 13, 2008

We Already Have Gun Control Laws

Yesterday, Ten Ring had 835 hits (a lot for us). Most of them came from links to this post on why gunnies are buying guns now. Thanks to CrankyLitProf for the link and kind words, kudos to Tam, and thanks to SayUncle.

I wrote a comment on CrankyLitProf (if you have a love/hate relationship with a cat, you must read this post). I wanted to follow up on that comment and my original post. If you’re already a gunnie, this will be old hat, but maybe not so much for others.

Many Americans say that they don't want governement to take away our guns. They only want tougher controls. You see that's the problem, most of these people have little ideas about what laws exist now (read the links for more details--I could write too many words about all of them).

Gun owners have watched government impose tougher controls for years. In 1934 there was the tax on machine guns and sawed-off shotguns (among other items). That law is still in effect. In 1968 Congress passed the backbone of gun laws in the United States. Certain aspects of the law proved too draconian and hard to enforce and were ameliorated in 1986 with the Firearm Owners Protection Act.

Since 1986, there have been other laws and executive orders that chipped away at gun rights. Then there was the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (AWB). The problem with this law is there's no such thing as an “assault weapon” and the law tried to define one as a semi-automatic gun (not machine guns) with certain features (bayonet lugs, pistol grips, etc.). It expired and was not renewed in 2004.

The law made no sense. Worse a gun owner could unwittingly become a felon. For instance, a husband and wife could have bought a rifle in 1998 and both used it for target shooting. The wife needed a shorter stock, so rather than buy a new rifle, the husband puts an adjustable stock on it. If the gun had been made prior to 1994, that act would be legal. If it were made after 1994, the husband committed a felony.

In the final analysis the Center for Disease Control commissioned a blue ribbon panel to find out if gun laws actually reduced crime. After exhaustive research the panel announced, “The Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.” (They added that the absence of findings was not evidence the laws were ineffective either.)

So, after 40 or 74 years (depending on how you date them) gun control laws have not proven effective. However, hundreds if not thousands of gun owners, gun store proprietors, gunsmiths and others have been prosecuted for technical violations of ineffective laws. Millions of gun owners have had to make their way through a minefield of complicated laws.

More gun laws will not solve the problem of gun violence. Instead, go to the heart of it and figure out why too many young men are shooting, stabbing, and bludgeoning other young men. But, that solution takes too much work. So, instead we’re hearing about another round of ineffective laws. It’s enough to make you cry.

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