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· *VMBB Senior Chief Of Staff*
22,952 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
January 31, 2013

Myths About Gun Regulation

As busy as the gun lobby is in promoting macho myths about self-defense — stand your ground and outshoot the bad guys — it is no less dedicated to spinning myths for lawmakers to use as excuses to avoid enacting laws to deal with the shooting sprees that regularly afflict the nation. This was clear at the opening Senate hearing on gun controls this week, where Judiciary Committee members seemed to have largely swallowed gun lobby propaganda that the evidence shows the original 10-year ban on assault weapons was ineffective.

Left unsaid was the fact that one of the loopholes that enabled passage of the original ban limited research on the law’s effectiveness to the first year’s data rather than allow more conclusive long-term studies. A long–range, independent study issued as Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004 found criminal use of assault weapons had fallen by one-third or more as a share of gun crimes in major jurisdictions.

The information is there if Congress is interested. After the ban expired, 37 percent of police departments reported noticeable increases in criminals’ use of assault weapons, according to a 2010 report by the Police Executive Research Forum.

In Virginia, the number of guns with high-capacity magazines seized by police dropped after they were included in the 1994 weapons ban, but then rebounded sharply after the ban expired, according to a 2011 study by The Washington Post. Maryland enacted its own more stringent ban on assault weapons in 1994, and a 55 percent drop in assault pistols from crime scenes was reported by the Baltimore police.

The false statistics comfort members of Congress who fear the gun lobby or their more conservative constituents, or both, and are blocking a new and stronger ban on assault weapons proposed by Senator Dianne Feinstein. The need for that ban and its outlawing of magazines of more than 10 bullets goes to the heart of the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., where a shooter took only a few minutes to trigger a rapid firing assault weapon and slay 20 schoolchildren and six educators last December.

“Too many children are dying,” former Representative Gabrielle Giffords declared at the Senate hearing, her speech made halting by the head wounds she suffered in a 2011 gun assault. “You must act. Be bold,” she pleaded with the lawmakers.

Since the hearing run by Senator Patrick Leahy seemed stacked with opponents of a new ban, Senator Feinstein is scheduling her own hearing with a fairer slate of witnesses reflecting the public’s concern about the carnage from assault weapons. The judiciary hearing should be a call to President Obama to fight hard for maximum public involvement if an assault weapons ban is ever to have a chance in congress. “Be courageous,” Ms. Giffords advised the lawmakers. “Americans are counting on you.”
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