Do you know what an assault weapon is? George Will, political columnist commenting on a recent Fox News Sunday panel, declared that an assault weapon is really a machine gun — which was banned in 1934. No one on the panel objected to this incorrect statement, which shows that none of them knows what it is.
Seven states have passed laws banning assault weapons. New York and Connecticut define an assault weapon as a semiautomatic rifle, shotgun, or pistol with a variety of characteristics; the U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld these laws as constitutional. These weapons are not fully automatic; still, they turn a killer into a killing machine. (Please look up the NY and CT laws to see the descriptions.)
The First and Second Amendment protections are not absolute. For example, one cannot yell “fire” in a crowded theater. Large-capacity ammunition-feeding devices and certain ammunition (such as armor piercing) are not necessary for sport shooting or for citizens defending their homes; neither are assault weapons.
Assault-style weapons were used in Newtown, San Bernardino and Orlando mass shootings, among others. Certainly if, say, a melee weapon or limited-shot pistol or rifle or shotgun had been used, the deaths, injuries, and trauma would have been greatly reduced. Following enactment of gun law reforms in Australia in 1996, there were no mass firearm killings through May 2016.
The recent hubbub in Congress over “gun control” focused on the shooter. That is necessary but it is not sufficient. In addition, as a starter, assault weapons need to be outlawed. Of the nine mass shootings in the U.S. over the past year, in at least eight the killers used guns that they obtained legally.
Please contact your federal and state representatives and urge them to pass meaningful gun control.