The Hess Report

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Assault Weapons Ban Revisited or, How Stupid is Dianne Feinstein? 

Last August Sen. Dianne Feinstein's (D-California-Yikes!) "assault weapons ban" legislation failed to be renewed by the U.S. Congress.

In case you thought otherwise (or weren't aware of it at all), the assault weapons ban was legislation that the Senator started and managed to get signed into law under President Bill Clinton. All it did was to ban certain guns and gun features that differed only cosmetically from other perfectly legal "acceptable" guns. The banned weapons could not shoot more quickly or more accurately than the non-banned ones. They did not shoot any kind of special ammunition that non-banned guns could not shoot. In some cases, the addition of a different style of grip could change a gun from being a normal, acceptable weapon, to an evil, illegal assault weapon. Wow. I want one of those grips.

This ban didn't have anything to do with automatic weapons - actual machine guns, where as long as you hold down the trigger bullets keep flying out. But you'd never know that from the press coverage of the ban. News people and liberal politicians were fond of saying that the law controlled "military-style assault weapons", which was simply not true. Machine guns were already illegal, and the assault weapons ban had absolutely nothing to do with them. But why would the fine Senator write and push such a law? After all, she would have to know that the weapons it banned weren't really military-style assault weapons. Wouldn't she?

Well, the answer is clear, and in her own words: "If I could've gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them...'Mr. and Mrs. America, turn 'em all in,' I would have done it."

See, she doesn't want anyone to have any guns. I'm not making that up. It was her first step. But as of last August, it was over. Her legislative barebacking of the Second Amendment expired.

Of course, she has tried to get new legislation passed that would reinstate the ban. And what did she have to say about the expiration of the ban, and her failure to be able to renew it?

"This failure will have deadly consequences on the streets of America. It is time to re-establish the ban and help make our communities safer."

So, like, holy crap, we're ten months out for the expiration of her ban now, and I'm still waiting for the blood in the streets. And so is the FBI. The Uniform Crime Report for 2004 (still preliminary) indicates that nationally, murder was down 3.6%, robbery was down 3.6%, and burglary was down 1.4% in the past year. The trend in large urban areas (cities of over 1,000,000 people) was even better: down 7.1, 6.7 and 1.5% respectively. Those are some wild, deadly consequences, Dianne!

Now, I'm not claiming that having the banned weapons becoming legal again reduced crime. Not really. If there had been an effect, I'd have expected to see it in a more pronounced fashion in the burglary rates, as homeowners would be able to do a better job defending their homes with crazy-ass assault weapons, and would scare the criminals into committing fewer burglaries. But of course, there really is no functional difference between the previously-banned weapons and the non-banned ones, and the expiration of the law had absolutely no effect on anything, other than Dianne Feinstein's crack-smoking fantasies, because the law itself did nothing of substance other than take a first step toward the Senator's stated unconstitutional goal.

In that case, what's the point of even bringing up the FBI statistics? To show that Sen. Feinstein, with her "deadly consequences", is a complete and utter idiot. She was 100% wrong. But will actual reality change her mind? Or will she keep her internal model the same, and adjust her perception of reality to fit? I don't know.

Oh, who am I kidding? Of course I know. She'll make up some crap about this or that, and how there really was an upswing in unreported crime, and trot out some anti-gun politico from Chicago who will talk about how they're finding machine guns in criminals cars now. But it won't actually be related to reality or to anything that gun control legislation could really affect. You see, she's so enamored with the shiny fixtures in the throne room that she's incapable of understanding that her castle is built on a swamp. And man, that's just stupid.

I think what they really wanted to do was create a "wedge issue", by forcing pro-gun legislators to defend something they could portray to an ignorant public as indefensible.

Of course, it blew up in their faces, and they lost Congress, and it's stayed lost for 11 years.
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