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Sunday, May 09, 2004

Facts vs. Feelings 

Some misinformed people held a rally today, and an equally misinformed CNN helped them get their message out.

The rally in question concerned the "Assault Weapons" Ban, and the demonstrators rallied to urge its renewal. CNN quotes a number of people who have lost loved ones in shootings, and cites several high-profile shootings in its story. Each of these is a tragedy.

But not one case mentioned in the article has anything to do with "assault weapons."

The first demonstrator quoted in the story is a woman whose daughter was killed.

The assailant used a 9mm semiautomatic handgun with an illegal 30-round clip.
This crime involved a handgun, and the Assault Weapons Ban only concerns rifles, so it has nothing to do with this woman's loss. And the illegal "clip" (actually a magazine) was illegal, is illegal, and will remain illegal whether the ban is renewed or not. I'm sorry this woman lost a daughter, but the law that she wants renewed has jack squat to do with her loss.

Next up is one of our esteemed Congressmen:

"We are working very hard in Iraq to get AK-47s off the street, to get Uzis off the streets. The president says we're fighting the war on terror by doing that," said Rep. Chris van Hollen, D-Maryland. "What about the terror right here on our streets at home."
I'm glad you asked, Congressman van Hollen. With the ban in effect, AK-47s and Uzis are legal. At least the semi-automatic versions. Full auto weapons have been illegal since 1934 and will remain so. But this strikes at the heart of the misconceptions about the ban. It does NOT ban machine guns. A 1934 law did that, and it remains in effect today. This law has nothing to do with the Assault Weapons Ban.

But let's allow Congressman van Hollen to keep going:

He also decried a provision in the law that critics contend allows owners of legal firearms to replace the housing for the firing mechanism and turn them into illegal assault weapons. He tied the loophole to October 2002 sniper attacks that killed 10 people in van Hollen's Maryland district, Virginia and the District of Columbia.
Once again, a scare tactic to make people think the law protects them from crime. The ban was in effect when the sniper attacks happened, and it didn't stop them. So what's your rationale again, Mr. Van Hollen?

Notice, also, the use of the word "illegal" in there. How a "loophole" can "allow" someone to do something "illegal" (a federal felony, in the case of modifying the firing mechanism) is beyond me. That's truly some stunning logic. But the DC snipers didn't modify a thing. They used a perfectly legal, off-the-shelf rifle that almost any American could have in hand in about 10 minutes. The one they used, by the way, a Bushmaster AR-15, was not the most powerful or the most accurate rifle they could have used. A good hunting rifle would have been vastly superior for their purposes.

Let's let one more member of Congress speak irrationally, shall we?

Another Democratic representative, Carolyn McCarthy of New York's Long Island, urged people to volunteer to spread the word about the expiring assault weapons ban. McCarthy's husband was among six people killed and her son was one of 19 wounded in a 1993 shooting spree aboard a Long Island Rail Road commuter train.
This kind of idiocy makes me want to scream. Colin Ferguson killed six people and wounded 19 on the train with a HANDGUN. The ban deals only with RIFLES and could not possibly have done a thing to prevent Rep. McCarthy's tragic loss.

Not one of the crimes mentioned by the protesters or the members of Congress who joined them has anything at all to do with the Assault Weapons Ban, but they use those crimes as justification for renewing the ban. Someone needs to provide these people with a large helping of Clue.

But no, we wouldn't want to argue from a fact-based position when we have so many strong FEELINGS driving us, would we?

For a short and sweet description of what the ban actually does, read my post here.
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