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Monday, March 15, 2004

Maine lawmakers seek state assault weapons ban 

Fearful that the useless federal assault weapons ban will not be renewed when it lapses in September, two Maine legislators are seeking to pass a state ban.

Unless the state Legislature acts now, Strimling said, it will be a year before a state ban could be put into effect. "If that's not an emergency, I don't know what is," he said.
Wow, an emergency. Why is it an emergency?

"All this ban does," said Maryellen Sullivan, of the Maine Citizens Against Handgun Violence board of directors, "is keep military-style killing machines off our streets."
Oh, right...

Well here's the straight dope on assault weapons, because most people don't know what the assault weapons ban really does. They don't know how the law defines an "assault weapon." Here's a quick exercise:

Rifle with pistol grip, OK.
Rifle with flash suppressor, OK.
Rifle with both, evil assault weapon which must be banned.

There are non-banned rifles which are far more accurate or more powerful than an M-16 or AK-47, but those assault weapons just LOOK menacing. Besides, you can still buy rifles that have slight cosmetic differences but function exactly the same way. I'll illustrate:

This is a banned assault weapon, and cannot be manufactured in or imported to the United States. (Although if it existed before the ban, it can still be bought and sold like any other rifle.)

This nearly identical rifle is perfectly legal under the ban.

Go ahead, click on the links and look at the pictures. I'll be right here waiting.

Quite the effective law, eh? Those two rifles are mechanically identical, but one is banned and the other is not.

Besides, you won't find many gun enthusiasts who consider an AR-15 or an AK the best rifle money can buy. Far, far from it. None of the banned assault rifles make the knowledgeable shooter's list of most powerful or most accurate rifles.

And I'll get another misconception out of the way. Many people assume that if the assault weapons ban lapses, people will be roaming our streets with fully automatic machine guns. I hate to break it to you, folks, but those have been illegal since 1934, unless one gets permission from the Treasury Department. Gaining permission involves a complete FBI background check, fingerprint check, a recent photo, and a sworn affidavit that the transfer is of reasonable necessity. Since 1934, a legally-owned machine gun has been used in exactly one crime--a 1988 murder committed by a police officer with a police-owned weapon.
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