Americans are a unique lot - and nowhere is this clearer than in our relationship with guns. Take, for example, the belief that owning and carrying a firearm constitutes a basic political right. It’s a belief that is largely unintelligible to people in other countries, but it’s one that a lot of Americans hold dearly. It’s even written into the Constitution. Even so, large swaths of the country, by and large, don’t understand it. Throw in extraordinary levels of violent crime and gun violence, and the result is a debate about gun control that is fiendishly difficult to make sense of.
I’ll admit that I started the process with some personal bias, which I’ll get to later. In the end, I changed my mind about some things and not about others. After reading this report, I suspect that you’ll agree with me on some things and not on others. But the most important thing I learned, and the thing I hope that readers will take away from this, is that despite what activists on both sides would have you believe, the issues surrounding guns are fiendishly complicated.
You’d assume that if gun-control advocates are going to chose the AWB as the hill they’re willing to die on, that they’d have good reasons for doing so. So it’s worth taking a look at what the AWB actually prohibits: rifles with a detachable magazine and a pistol grip may not have an adjustable stock, flash suppressor, grenade launcher, or bayonet mount.
To put it bluntly, the AWB doesn’t prohibit the kind of scary-looking rifles that proponents assume it prohibits. In fact, at the time of the Sandy Hook shootings, Connecticut had in place its own version of the AWB, modeled on the 1994 federal law. The Bushmaster rifle that was used that day complied with that Connecticut law.
It is well sourced, and it collects all the talking points about the gun issue. So it’s quite complete. Somehow it shoots right down the middle. In so doing, it does not delve deeply into “education” as a way of preventing some gun accidents except by saying that some households with kids and guns avoid accidents. It also does not mention the disproportional effect of licensing and training requirements on the poor which also tend to be minorities populations in cities. A direct comparison between a poll tax and a licensing fee seems to easily present itself.
I also appreciated that it held up the AWB’s attempt to ban various firearms for how they look as the complete failure that it was.
All in all, an interesting read, especially if you take the time to look at it in conjuction with my earlier page on Commentaries: New Issues in Gun Rights - Harvard Law Review