The Corner

That Pesky Second Amendment

I’m getting a lot of emails explaining that, although I asked a good question (see below), the ban on assault weapons raises entirely different–and bogus–issues. To wit:

The primary problem with the Assault Weapons Ban is that it does not base it’s prohibitions on a point on the continuum between .22 rifle and hydrogen bomb. Instead, the AWB prohibits weapons based entirely cosmetic characteristics. That is, a banned rifle can shoot the exact same cartridge, carry the same number of rounds in its chamber, and auto-load as quickly as a legal rifle — the only difference is that the banned rifle might have a pistol grip stock, a flash suppressor, or some other feature that does NOT make the gun any more dangerous. Some of these cosmetic differences might make a rifle better for hunting or target shooting than a more traditional model. For example, a rifle equipped with a plastic stocks will be lighter and easier to carry in the field than one with a traditional wood stock. A rifle with a pistol grip may be more comfortable to shoot than one with a traditional stock. But these features don’t make the guns demonstrably better for holding up your local liquor store. So why ban them? Because it allows Congress to say it did something about crime — even if what was done had no positive practical effect and was only symbolic.

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