Op-ed makes valid points about assault weapon bans

AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

The House of Representatives has passed its proposed assault weapon ban. This is thoroughly unsurprising, though it’s still infuriating. I mean, we just had the Bruen decision, though House Democrats apparently declined to read it.

Unsurprisingly, many on the right are taking issue with the bill.

Yeah, I know, there’s little chance of it passing, but that isn’t grounds to be complacent on the subject of the Second Amendment. We had Republicans just support gun control not that long ago. It’s not a stretch to think that some may be willing to do it again.

Over at The American Conservative, an op-ed addressing the bill brings up some very good points.

On July 29, the House of Representatives passed a bill attempting to federally ban “assault weapons.” H.R. 1808 is a 126-page bill, mostly filled with lists of firearms it intends to ban by name. In summary, the proposed law forbids “a person to import, sell, manufacture, transfer, or possess, in or affecting interstate or foreign commerce” any “semi-automatic assault weapon” and any magazine capable of holding more than 15 rounds of ammunition. The proposed law does not apply to weapons or magazines that were lawfully possessed before the passage of this bill, but does severely restrict the ability to transfer these grandfathered weapons, even if the transfer is a gift.

As a gun owner and the son of a former SWAT captain, I question the practical efficacy of these types of laws. Most conservatives probably are familiar with the basics of how guns work, but a quick review is worthwhile. The focus on banning “semi-automatic assault weapons” is interesting, because a semi-automatic gun is distinct from a fully automatic weapon where one can hold down the trigger and fire several shots. The latter is what comes to mind when I think of an “assault weapon” or “weapon of war.” Semi-automatic weapons fire one shot per trigger-pull. This does not seem to be a reasonable definition of the ever-elusive “assault weapon.” Common handguns such as 9mm handguns and even revolvers also fire one shot per trigger-pull, and can be fired fairly quickly, but they are not included as “assault weapons.”

Because they’re not.

Yet, it should be noted that such handguns can and have been used in very deadly mass shootings. In fact, for all the talk of AR-15s and school shootings, the most deadly such shooting in the modern age was Virginia Tech.

In that instance, the killer used a couple of handguns. He also complied with Virginia’s rationing law that was on the books at the time.

Moving on.

The effectiveness of banning “high-capacity magazines” is likewise questionable. I believe the rationale is that a mass shooter with 30-round magazines can fire 30 shots without having to reload, so limiting magazine capacity to 15 rounds would limit the shooter’s ability to continue firing uninterrupted. But this reasoning does not lead to a drastically different result in a mass-shooter situation: even a mediocre shooter such as myself can drop an empty magazine and load a new one in a second or two.

He’s right.

You see, a mass shooter is generally looking at a group of unarmed folks. That means he’s got the time to drop a magazine and pop in a new one.

Again, we don’t have to look far to see how such a measure wouldn’t have much of an impact on mass shootings. Parkland sparked much of the current push for gun control, including calls for magazine restrictions, yet it seems the killer only used 10-round magazines.

Where magazine capacity does matter is in a defensive situation.

If you’re being attacked, having to swap magazines means you’re unable to fight back for that period of time. That might be the difference between life and death.

So while the assault weapon bill won’t make a difference in stopping mass shootings, it’s likely to claim tens of thousands of lives every year.