Thursday, September 16, 2004

Wrong Turn

The TEC-9, the MAC-10, and the Colt AR-15...what do they have in common? As of Monday they are no longer banned semiautomatic assault rifles.

Legislation passed in 1994 outlawed the sale, importation, and manufacture of 19 semiautomatic weapons including those mentioned and the AK-47 and the Uzi. This assault weapon ban was allowed to expire Monday much to my dismay, yet much to the pleasure of the NRA.

Originally this legislation was brought about by the events in Waco, Texas in 1993 as well as the deaths of five children in Stockton, California in 1989 who were shot down in their schoolyard. Was this ban allowed to expire because there haven't been any such event recently?

Sure the law was limited and it may not have impacted sportsmen or gun dealers, it may not have curved the trend of violence much, but if it did change the trend even slightly, it was worth keeping in law.

If we learned nothing from Columbine it would be a disgrace. If Michael Moore taught us nothing with "Bowling for Columbine" so be it. But we should see the assault weapon ban as a step toward preventing gun crimes. If a step is all we can make, lets see it for what it is...a step toward making our every day lives a little less full of fear and a little more close to comfort.

It is not often that I look at an issue and cannot see two sides. It is not often that I see something as completely wrong, but with the expiration of the assault weapon ban, I do. Charleton Heston can get on his soapbox with an AK-47 in hand and rant about our 2nd amendment rights all he wants. What rights do we have when we're dead?


Nick Speth said...

Hey, Tara. A few brief comments.

What does Columbine have to do with this law? It seems to me that this law was enacted some four years before the horrible murders at Columbine. Yet the murderers still were able to murder.

I have no problem with the regulation of the three weapons you mentioned. I might really like an AR-15, but I can understand the need to regulate them. However, I am concerned about the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep firearms.

I never joined the NRA. I was always hesitant because I thought that they went a bit too far. I haven't hunted in many years, but I come from a hunting family, and many in my family really enjoy it. Still I think that some regulation is fine.

I also have no argument with the idea of registration of firearms, and the idea of waiting periods, etc. I mean I register my car, and the government doesn't use that information against me. Why don't you liberals turn the phrase "abortion on demand" back on us and say why do you support "gun sales on demand," which is precicely what some would argue for. Still if a law-abiding citizen wanted a AR-15 or a TEC, why couldn't he register and buy one?

I'm just asking questions here.

Why would he need one? He wouldn't. Let's be honest though, if the government tried to stop me from buying every useless thing that I bought, it'd require a whole new beurocracy.

The fact is that this is an issue that's far too politicized. There are gun nuts on the right that want to buy bazookas and rpg's and whatever, and there are nuts on the left that would take away every gun in America. I think we can both agree that they're extremists. Can't we find a middle ground?

You might argue that this gun ban is that middle ground, but I think that it's wanting, especially as it relates to certain semi-automatic shotguns. Would I ever use a gawdy, plastic, removable clip shotgun? No. Ought it be my right to do so? I dunno.

Again, I'm just asking questions. Here's a big one though. You MIGHT get me to consider backing a similar bill to the expired one. I'm just not sure. Get back at me... Nick

p.s. Sorry to comment so long; longer than the original post even. This is one issue that I think about a lot and can see both sides, and I wanted to make sure I hit all my thoughts on the matter.

Nick Speth said...

One other thing. Charlton Heston isn't going to be on any soapbox. The man's got Alzheimers disease. He started seeing symptoms in 2002.

Tara A. Rowe said...

In all honesty Nick, I may be one of those left wing nuts who would much rather take every gun off the market, with an exception regarding military--but even then I'm almost sure I'd rather go back to the days of bayonets.

"Abortion on demand" vs. "Gun sale on demand"... both I think need a waiting period and some sort of registration. I don't think pregnant women should be able to walk in to a clinic, have an abortion, and walk out--nothing said, nor do I think someone should be able to buy a weapon on the spot. The reasoning here isn't political, it's rational. Human nature is to make a decision on the spot (right now demand) and then ten minutes later question that decision. A person might say they want an abortion and afterward regret it forever or vice-versa say they want a weapon to go shoot someone right then, but an hour later feel more apathetic and less violent. That is just how human nature works. Unfortunatley those level headed individuals who would use neither abortion or the weapon inappropriatley will also have to wait that extra time period before receiving what they want.

I didn't mean to even touch on abortion, because for me it is a touchy subject as well as something I don't like to talk about, but you brought up the comparison, so I ran with it. I too think that we should find a common ground here. Maybe we could sell some of these weapons given a mandatory waiting period, criminal background check, and such...BUT I don't ever want an Uzi on the street. End of story.

There has to be a middle ground that will keep both sides of the isle relatively happy. I just am not the one to write such legislation as I have an admitted bias. And the thing about Charlton Heston...I have a personal vendetta where he is concerned. Childish as it may be I don't see how holding an NRA rally in Littleton, CO following Columbine profitted anyone. Maybe that is the Michael Moore in my speaking.

Columbine makes me want the assault weapon ban, but I also realize that those boys were still able to access those weapons or Columbine never would have happened. We need an assault weapon ban, just not the same exact legislation that was passed in 1994.

Sorry for the length...this is one of those topics that you don't want to get me going on. Let me know what you think Nick.

Nick Speth said...

Here's what I've been thinking since last night. Maybe the solution isn't in what guns to ban, and what guns to allow, but rather in how to closely regulate and control guns and know who has them and where. Making guns illegal does nothing because criminals are by definition people who break the law, and a gun ban is just another law to break. I cite as my evidence Columbine. Those boys were able to get the guns anyway.

What we need to do is find a way to keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals. What we need is smarter gun control, not to add guns to the list of banned weapons. It's a problem that isn't going to be easily solved because there are a lot of stong feelings on both sides, but if both sides are willing to give a little, we may get it to work.

For the record though, as cool as it would be to have an AR-15, I think the three guns you mentioned ought to stay banned (though I disagree with your description of them as "rifles" only the Colt is a rifle). Some of the other guns on that list are what's causing my hangup.

Tara A. Rowe said...

When you venture out of the realm of banned automatic assault weapons to the topic of gun control it seems that an uproar happens. Why is it less against our 2nd amendment rights to ban a gun completely than it is to regulate and control who can buy the gun?

This is something I may never understand, but I do spend alot of time thinking about it. There have to be ways to keep those weapons out of the hands of criminals and kids like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

The reference to the Colt rifle...I really don't know too much about those weapons and which are actually rifles. Forgive me for being preachy without concrete knowledge.

Nick Speth said...

I don't dispute they're assault weapons, just the TEC and MAC are more handguns than rifles. Indeed the TEC9 and MAC10 are probably less acceptable because they can't reasonably be used for anything other than killing people. The AR-15 is a rifle and often used by sharpshooters because it's amazinly accurate at long range.

As to the second amendment, let's analyze that, here's what the second amendment says, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." So inherent in the second amendment is the need to keep the citizen militia "well regulated." The NRA tends to forget that.

Nick Speth said...

I suppose in the end I am fully supporting of banning "assault" weapons, it's just a question of how broadly you define "assault weapons." For instance, when this recently-expired bill was proposed, John Kerry (who served in Vietnam if you've missed it) wanted the ban to go much deeper. And the gun he was so famously given recently( see the picture on the top right) would have been illegal, and not just to take to debates :) as he famously quipped.

I also feel like background checks and waiting periods are not only okay, they're logical ideas to keep a "well regulated militia." I may have estranged myself from some members of my family with that, but what can I do?

Thanks for the input, Tara. For the record, I don't think you're a left-wing nut because the ones I truly consider nuts are those that can't and wont allow for compromise, which is clearly not your case. Hope to hear from you again on this issue. -Nick

Tara A. Rowe said...

Thanks Nick. I think we all need to stand up for the issues regardless what everyone else thinks of our opinions. It's nice to know that I'm not considered to be a left wing nut! I try very hard to see both sides and I will always leave room for compromise. What can be accomplished in absolute stubborness? Nothing. (About as much can be established by sticking to party lines despite the issue being right or wrong.)

In all things there needs to be a little regulation and if the second amendment says "regulated militia" then maybe the NRA needs to rethink their policies and opinions. I'm not against hunters/sportsmen...but I am against the extremism arising in the NRA.

Thanks as always for your input Nick, it keeps me thinking!