I just don’t get it. The Brady Campaign’s Dennis Henigan is once again beating the assault weapons ban drum following the whole Mexican gun canard coming up again. Unlike Paul Helmke, though, I get the sense that Henigan is a more measured, rational man, and I sense great intelligence in his posts. So why can’t he tell that the assault weapons ban is a sham? And wasn’t he listening when these very same claims were debunked last year?
I mean, a ten year-old would be able to figure it out; the issues involved are actually really simple and straightforward. People talk about these “high-powered, high-caliber” guns and imply that they are especially suitable for long-range murder or indiscriminate slaughter, and are more akin to machine guns than hunting rifles.
I’ve gone over these claims before, but I’ll do it again because I’m a firm believer in the power of knowledge and education to banish falsehood and fear. Anyway, there are a number of problems with these specious arguments, because the assault weapons ban…
- …did not mention caliber and thus did not ban the most powerful weapons, such as those used for hunting.
- …did not mention scopes or sights and thus did not ban the guns with the capability for long-range precision shooting, such as those used for hunting.
- …banned guns based on cosmetic and ergonomic features, not their internal mechanisms or how rapidly they can fire. A semiautomatic weapon with a pistol grip and a flash hider would be illegal and banned, while the same gun without those features would be just fine.
- …did not mention machine guns at all and thus had no effect on their legal status.
This video illustrates just how simple the issue really is:
You can see pretty clearly that guns branded “assault weapons” receive that moniker because of their menacing appearance, not any actual difference in operational characteristics.
And then there’s one final ridiculous claim:
President Calderon told Congress that Mexico has seized 75,000 assault weapons and other guns and over 80% of those traced originated with American gun shops. He said the escalation in Mexican drug violence “coincides with the lifting of the assault weapons ban in 2004,”
You’ll notice he says “80% of those traced” and not “80% of all guns recovered”. The truth is that only a fraction of guns were ever submitted to the ATF for tracing at all, because most were obviously not from the U.S; when Mexican police confiscate a gun with Mexican markings or Spanish written on it, or a fully-automatic assault rifle that’s the standard armament of the Mexican military, there’s no need to ask the ATF where it came from because the answer is totally obvious.
Is Henigan really trying to convince us that an upward tick in drug gang violence in Mexico is because of the ability of Americans to legally put pistol grips and flash hiders on their semiautomatic rifles at the same time? Might it instead be due to powerful cultural and legal issues in Mexico relating to corruption, poverty, and diplomatic pressure, or Philippe Calderon trying to prove his muscle after a contested election by escalating the battle against drug trafficking? Nah. It has to be guns. Booga booga!