Thursday, April 9, 2009

Imbecility is not confined to the right wing.

One should always pick your battles, particularly in politics. It's all about maximizing your return while minimizing your investment. I find this concept is lost on much of the pro-gun-control community, and this particular blog entry is dedicated to them.

If you happen to be a member of this group I know one of the questions that confounds you daily is "how in the hell do the bunch of crazies at the NRA have so much political power?" This seems a perfectly valid question, their views are extreme, their spokesmen regularly come off as lunatics, and their base is composed primarily of rednecks.

The answer is simple - because you can't pick your battles.

Namely, I'm referring to the assault weapons ban that was passed under Clinton and expired this decade. You are focused on it, we know you are because that is all you can talk about. An editorial in today's NY Times holds a perfect example, the author spends the first 15 paragraphs laying out his case (in fine fashion, I might add) for increased gun control.

It's well written, very emotional and loaded with facts and relevant current events. The author has me buying in, I'm ready to write a letter to my congressman to take some action. But what to do?

The author then blows his wad on arguing for reinstatement of the assault weapons ban. Just to be clear, this is a ban affecting a hodgepodge of firearms related only in terms of appearance. Some of the arguments for the ban (and the simple counters):
  • Assault weapons are criminal's weapon of choice - they are used in less than 1% of gun crimes in this country
  • Fully automatic weapons are dangerous - irrelevant, fully automatic weapons are already illegal, the "assault weapons" discussed here fire at the same rate most other firearms
  • Their fire is deadly - the banned firearms fire bullets no larger, and with less power behind them, than most hunting rifles
  • They are designed to kill - I'm not sure how features like a bayonet stud or handle (two of the features that may cause a firearm to be banned) assist any criminal in doing any more damage than he already plans to do
I'm all for getting dangerous guns out of the hands of felons, crazies, postal workers, etc., but this ban doesn't do that. What it does do is allow the NRA to stoke up fear amongst the public by showing "a conspiracy" that wants to ban any and all firearms, regardless of their danger.

Assault weapons are bulky, thus they are hard to conceal, hard to transport, and hard to move around with. If more criminals used assault weapons instead of cheap handguns we would have far less crime, as you can't walk down the street with one of these stuck in your pocket.

If you really want to make a difference in the world, take an approach to gun-control with something that actually affects violence, like background checks. If you want to help inflate the political clout, bank accounts, and egos of the loonies at the NRA, keep pushing the assault weapons ban.

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