Bits and Pieces

Monday, February 23, 2004

Assault Weapons Ban

On September 13th, 2004, the Federal Assault Weapons Ban will expire. The ban as it stands is fairly pointless, banning certain semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines. Come September, the ban will 'sunset' unless President Bush and Congress intervene and either renew the ban or bring in new, tougher legislation.

The gun argument has always baffled us in the UK. Over here you are simply not permitted to own a gun unless you have a damn good reason. If you are caught carrying a gun on the streets then you are going to jail (provided an Armed Reponse Team doesn't shoot you dead first). Guns are not tolerated because they serve no purpose. There is no reason for you to own a gun. It's as simple as that. Every man, woman and child in the US and UK can get by without a weapon. That's why we don't get the fact that gun laws are an issue in the US.

In the UK we see the solution as very simple. Assuming that you are not willing to give up all your gun rights, only handguns should be legal. These should be used solely for home protection (despite the fact that keeping a gun in the house increases the chance of you being killed). Rifles and shotguns should be permitted only for those whose professions require them (farmers, park rangers, Jack Bauer, etc.).

But we all know that guns aren't going away in the US any time soon. You wanna know why? It isn't because people want to protect their homes, or care about their Constitutional right or anything like that. This is the reason:

Guns are cool.

It's true. Guns are cool. They look cool. They blow holes in stuff, and while you carry one you don't feel like Bob in accounts. You feel like Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry; Arnold Schwarzenneger in Commando; er... Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (couldn't think of any other gun-toting women). I think they're cool myself. Back when I started college in 1997 I went out and bought myself a ball-bearing firing air pistol (being the most powerful projectile weapon available in our gun shops). I still have it, and still think it's cool. When I was in secondary school paintballing became popular, and for a few years we all ran around forests pretending we were in 'Nam.

What we need to do is grow up. Guns may be cool but they kill a lot of people. I believe the majority of support for the right to firearms would vanish if people sat down and thought 'Is it worth it?' In 1999 (the last year I could find data for while on my lunch break), 28,874 people were killed in gun-related incidents, and more than twice that number were injured. Is it worth it?

For me the question of assault weapons is detracting from the real issue. Guns should be banned period. Confusing the issue by nit-picking about pistol grips and bayonet attachments can only serve against the ultimate goal. Put down the weapon.
powered by web hosting provider