In her recent article “The responsibility is ours,” Susan Estrich makes a variety of factually inaccurate anti gun statements and blames American gun owners for the ongoing drug cartel violence in Mexico. Those statements, and my responses, can be seen below:
Eighty percent of the 75,000 assault weapons seized by Mexican authorities in the latest chapter of the drug war were traced back to the United States, many of them to the gun shops that proliferate along the border. Juarez, Mexico, right across the border from El Paso, Texas, is now the murder capital of the world.
Here we have yet another journalist repeating this completely inaccurate figure. For the record, the ATF found that 29,000 firearms were recovered in Mexico in 2008 (the most recent year statistics are available). Of those recovered guns, approximately 5,000 were traced to U.S. sources. That means more than 80 percent of the firearms recovered in Mexico were not traced to the United States. Moreover, according to the ATF, the firearms recovered in Mexico and successfully traced by ATF were originally purchased at retail – following a background check – on average 14 years ago. This fact undermines the notion that a flood of newly purchased American firearms are being brought across the border to fuel Mexico’s ongoing violence.
Instead, the violence in Mexico is perpetrated by drug cartel members who are armed with machine guns, grenades, and other guns that are not coming from gun stores or private homes in the United States.
Maybe what Arizona and Texas and the nation as a whole really need is a ban on assault weapons. . .
There is no such thing as an “assault weapon.” Instead, “assault weapon” is a term created from whole cloth by fear-mongering anti gun groups as a means of whittling away at gun rights. “Assault Weapon” bans simply outlaw various safety and cosmetic features of guns – features which do not make the gun any more deadly or suitable for use by criminals:
1. A Pistol Grip or other Protruding Grip
These features allow the user to better handle the gun while dealing with recoil, or with a home invader who is trying to snatch the gun away from its owner. A user who is able to aim their gun and hold on to it while firing to defend themselves is less likely to miss, which makes things safer for that person who is trying to defend themselves, as well as any bystanders in the area.
2. A Collapsing Stock, Folding Stock, or Telescopic Stock
These features allow a gun’s stock to be folded or telescoped out of the way, allowing the gun to fit into a safe or other secure storage area where it would not otherwise fit. Banning this feature means that people who lack full size gun safes may not be able to securely store their guns to prevent theft or misuse. Telescoping stocks also allow the length of a gun to be adjusted so that people of different arm lengths can use the same gun. Banning this feature also means that a smaller person would have difficulty holding on to and using their larger spouse’s gun during a home invasion.
3. A Barrel Shroud
Perhaps the most safety oriented feature of all, a barrel shroud goes around the barrel of a gun and prevents the user from being burned, since the barrel will get hot when the gun is fired. Banning barrel shrouds will just mean more burned gun owners when they accidentally touch the barrel of their guns, and more melted gun cases when gun owners put their hot un-shrouded gun barrels away in a case while on the way home from the shooting range.
4. A Muzzle Compensator
This is a device which attaches to or is built into to the end of the barrel, and uses some of the hot gases released by the gun to prevent the muzzle from lifting up as the gun is fired, helping keep the gun aimed at its intended target. Banning this feature means that when a person who is not physically able to handle the recoil from the gun tries to defend themselves, they may miss their attacker and even hit an innocent bystander, or miss their attacker and then suffer at the hands of the attacker.
5. A Flash Suppressor
A flash suppressor is a device that fits on the end of the barrel and help keep the bright flash from blinding the user, when the gun is fired. This feature allows a home owner who fires their gun in self defense during a night time home invasion to not be blinded by their own gun. Banning this feature leaves home invasion victims unable to see at the worst possible time.
6. “High Capacity” Magazines
Assault weapons bans also focus on “high capacity” magazines, but instead define “high capacity” in a way that bans many ordinary guns. Often rifles and handgun magazines are banned if they hold more than 10 rounds, and shotguns if they hold more than 5 shells. A typical 9MM handgun, which would allow a 100 lb. grandmother to defend herself from a 250 LB home invader, often hold 12 or more rounds. Such a ban converts these law abiding citizens into possessors of “assault weapons”, and since most people who own a gun for home defense don’t read the fine print of the laws that are passed, they won’t even know that their perfectly normal 9MM handgun is now an “assault weapon”.
Also troubling about the “high capacity” magazine ban is the effect upon the ability of law abiding, ban following, citizens to defend themselves. Ideally a person forced to act in self defense would have to fire their gun just once, but in reality, the stress of having to defend oneself reduces the accuracy of even the most well trained shooters. Having that 11th or 12th bullet could mean the difference between life and death when faced with home invasion or similar situation.
It is important to note that the “assault weapon” bans don’t cover automatic weapons (“machine guns”), which have already been banned by the US federal government and many states for many decades. The statistics also show that criminals use s0-called “assault weapons” in fewer than 1% of gun-related crimes. This shouldn’t be surprising, given the fact that criminals want cheap and easily concealable guns, rather than large expensive guns such as an AR-15.
If Barack Obama could convince Congress to pass the biggest health-care reform since Medicare and the biggest financial reform since the Great Depression, why can’t he push through a bill supported by police departments everywhere to ban assault weapons?
“Police departments everywhere” certainly do not support “assault weapon” bans. I personally know of many police officers who see such bans for the ineffective and anti gun rights laws that they are. While there are certainly some police officers who do support such bans, that fact doesn’t really tell us much, as we can find some police officer somewhere who will support just about anything.
Assault weapons are not used by sportsmen.
These sportsmen would certainly disagree with that statement, as would I and just about every gun owner whom I know. More importantly, the Second Amendment doesn’t just protect “sporting” guns.
You don’t hunt deer with an assault weapon.
Although I am not a hunter, I do know many people who go deer hunting. I know for a fact that many people hunt with guns that would be banned under the old federal “assault weapon” ban, as well as the various “assault weapon” bans that have been proposed since the expiration of that federal ban. Given that so-called “assault weapons” are just ordinary semiautomatic firearms with “scary looking” safety and cosmetic features, there is no reason to think that they are unsuitable for hunting.
Perhaps more importantly, the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms has nothing to do with hunting.
You don’t need one to protect your home.
This is an example of the “minimum needs” gun control tactic. Here, Susan Estrich, who has already demonstrated her lack of understanding insofar as guns are concerned, proceeds to tell America’s millions of law abiding gun owners what they do and do not need for home defense. In reality, it is not possible for her or anyone else to determine the magazine capacity or type of firearm that each person would need for self defense.
Some citizens, such as amputees with only one arm, would also have difficulty operating the self defense firearms which I prefer (pump action shotguns), and would do better with a low recoiling semiautotmatic gun, such an an AR-15 (which is a so-called “assault weapon”). A person with arthritis would likely benefit from a muzzle compensator on their self defense gun (which is a so-called “assault weapon” feature). Someone who does not own a large gun safe could benefit from a collapsible stock on their gun, allowing it to be safely stored in a smaller safe (and this is yet another so-called “assault weapon” feature). Jewelry store owners and others who are more likely to face multiple attackers at once are likely to benefit from a high capacity magazine, so that they don’t run out of ammunition in a life or death situation (yet such a magazine is another so-called “assault weapon” feature). For just about every citizen who uses a gun in self defense at night time, a flash suppressor is of great use, so that they are not blinded by the muzzle flash from their own gun (but it is yet another so-called “assault weapon” feature). In short, each person’s self defense needs are different, and a one size fits all law is not reasonable.
More to the point, even if one doesn’t “need” a so-called “assault weapon” to protect their home, it doesn’t follow that such a gun should therefore be banned. In a free society, such as ours, items should only be banned when there is a compelling reason for the ban. Banning private ownership of nuclear weapons makes sense, given the grave risk that a nuclear bomb represents, coupled with the lack of a legitimate private use for that nuclear bomb. Applying that same logic, a ban on private ownership of surface to air missiles is also reasonable. However, a ban on so-called “assault weapons,” which are very popular among law abiding gun owners, which are no more dangerous than any other gun, and which are rarely used by criminals, is not reasonable.