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Clutching


© Clay Bennett

How did America react to the shootings? By buying up assault weapons in record numbers in anticipation of tougher gun laws.

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16 Comments

  1. ebdoug wrote:

    And creating armored back packs. NRA does not want our children to be safe.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink
  2. Don wrote:

    Ironic, isn’t it, that the procurer of the weapons used at Sandy Hook was a woman. At least in light of this cartoon.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink
  3. ThatGuy wrote:

    This is why, if gun control is to be done at all/go anywhere, we need to hammer the point that it’s a combination of personal responsibility and sensible laws. We don’t want unlicensed drivers on the roads, let’s not put unlicensed guns out there either. Frame the discussion as “Hey, most of America, you’re a responsible gun owner. You probably don’t want irresponsible gun owners being responsible for you having to defend yourself as a sane, trustworthy person”.

    Something to that effect. How successful it would be is questionable. But to Arthanyel’s point in several other threads, if we just say NO MORE ASSAULT RIFLES rather than no more crazy people/felons/doomsday preppers with assault rifles, I think we’d be better off.

    Having said that, my best guess is that quite a few of the people having the knee jerk reaction to buy up everything they can in the wake of a massacre probably shouldn’t have the weapons.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Permalink
  4. Iron Knee wrote:

    I’m wondering if you surveyed gun owners, what percentage of them would be in favor of banning assault weapons. I suspect a significant majority.

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink
  5. Nine wrote:

    “People shouldn’t be afraid of their government. Governments should be afraid of their people.”

    Oh how we move further and further away

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  6. dickt_cal wrote:

    As a former gun owner, hunter, soldier, competitive shooter, I would have no objections to banning assault rifles. My impression is that they’re generally more for show than shooting anyway. In addition, limiting magazines to five rounds should not be a problem for any hunter because you’ll seldom need to get more than two shots off to down game. If you do, you really ought to spend more time at the range!

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  7. Peter wrote:

    In addition, limiting magazines to five rounds should not be a problem for any hunter because you’ll seldom need to get more than two shots off to down game.

    The issue that I have with this is that it’s the sort of useless “feel-good” thing that makes no difference whatsoever.

    I was watching Nightline last night with my roomate and they were showing some school that had spent tens of thousands of dollars for a high-tech security system that monitored everybody who came and went. And we go back to Sandy Hook and discover that the guy just shot the window out of a back door and opened it.

    If Sandy Hook had a system like that–and maybe they did–it was a pretty good waste of money because it did nothing to protect the children. It was just for show: “See? We’re doing something! Aren’t we great? Please vote for us next year!”

    Sure, I see nothing wrong with limiting magazines to 5 rounds. I just don’t see anything right with it, either. I’m no firearms expert, but from what I see in the movies, you press a button and the clip falls from the gun. You snap another one in and go back to shooting. Takes a second or two. Is this really going to make any difference?

    Thursday, December 20, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink
  8. rk wrote:

    I did see a statistic that the majority of NRA members are in favor of tighter gun control laws. But that the gun manufacturers are in control of the organization. There was no more information than that, though.

    http://thinkprogress.org/election/2012/07/24/577091/nra-members-agree-regulating-guns-makes-sense/

    I can’t find a site off hand that supports the second part of my statement.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink
  9. Arthanyel wrote:

    IK – the vast majority of gun owners do not favor banning “assault weapons.”. Both because actual assault weapons are already illegal (what liberals refer to as “assault weapons” are just semi automatic rifles playing dress up) and because modern sporting rifles are among the most popular guns to own and shoot for recreation.

    Gun owners understand that all the hysteria about “assault weapons” is just hysteria and would not make any significant difference to anything. They just don’t matter.

    The US has a high rate of gun homicides (over 30,000 per year). The VAST majority of these are committed with handguns that do not have “large capacity magazines” and the next most commonly used weapons are 12 gauge shotguns, the standard for hunting and recreational shooting. Very few people are killed with semi automatic rifles of any kind.

    So the hysteria about “assault weapons” is an attack on 50 million gun owners because 12 crazy people used them. By that logic we should ban airplanes, cars, and bathtubs, all of which are responsible for more deaths than “assault weapons”.

    As I have said elsewhere, I agree we need strong gun controls and to Thatguy’s primary point we DO need to make sure that irresponsible people don’t own guns and that the guns owned by responsible people are secured so that children and irresponsible people can’t get to them.

    But banning “assault weapons” is just silly and pointless and will not accomplish anything because no ban will take away the millions of guns already in private hands, and any law that tries will not be obeyed.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    RK, thanks for the link. Interesting survey. There seems to be widespread support for what I’m proposing — background checks for people who want to buy guns, and gun safety training requirements.

    So why is all the attention focused on banning “assault weapons”? I don’t get it.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink
  11. ThatGuy wrote:

    The rounds fired by assault weapons are extremely deadly. Though this may sound like parsing the nonsensical since a lethal bullet wound is a lethal bullet wound, weapons like m-16 derivatives and Kalashnikov derivatives pack a serious punch when compared to shotguns and handguns and are effective at much longer ranges.

    The 5.56 (.223 calibre, i think) fired by the Bushmaster used at Sandyhook is what we send our troops off to fight with. From my understanding, these punch right through most bullet proof vests and, in the hands of a skilled shooter (like the DC sniper, who used a similar weapon) effective out to incredible ranges, something like 500-600 meters, though I bet someone here knows better.

    Kalashnikov variants (the K in AK) fire an even larger round, a 7.62. I think these were used in the Hollywood bank robbery several years ago, and again if I remember correctly, the gunmen lived so long because police handguns couldn’t penetrate the armor the gunmen were wearing, while the 7.62 rounds (coming from a high-capacity drum magazine) were cutting through body armor and squad cars. One gunman in this case was only stopped after his rifle jammed and he shot himself with a pistol he had.

    Short story: the Bushmaster fires military-grade ammunition, and can hit targets accurately much further away than a handgun (though handguns do kill more people). I wouldn’t say that these are regular rifles playing dress up, as even in semi-auto they fire extremely quickly and the ammo they use causes massive trauma.

    As for high-capacity magazines, I’d say there’s some reasoning behind banning them. While reloading may not take long, the difference between having to reload every 10 shots and every 30 or even 100 is huge considering how fast a skilled shot can fire.

    In the end, we need strong regulations on guns across the board with serious enforcement mechanisms.

    I still just can’t draw anything akin to a straight line between banning (though I don’t support it) a type of firearm and banning methods of transport and bathing. I understand the point is to ridicule, but again. Thing designed to kill =/= bathtub.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink
  12. dickt_cal wrote:

    Peter, you’re right that reducing magazine capacity will not solve any problem, but it will slow a shooter so that there might be some chance of either stopping him or escaping.

    As far as investment in security systems, we see the same escalation as other threat / counter-threat strategies. We can stop an unarmed kidnapper, but not a shooter. Stop the shooter, but not a bomber. Ultimately, you can bankrupt yourself protecting against evermore unlikely threats, while convincing yourself that you’re finally safe. This all in an environment where many don’t want to pay teachers a living wage.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Permalink
  13. Arthanyel wrote:

    IK – my point as well. There is plenty of support even among NRA members for significant gun controls that could actually help.

    Thatguy: Unfortunately you are not an actual gun expert (I am) and so you are repeating claims that are not correct.

    The statement that centerfire rifle bullets such at the popular .223 round used in modern sporting rifles (what you keep inaccurately referring to as “assault weapons” ) are more deadly than shotguns is just wrong. Shotguns, especially with buckshot rounds commonly used for defense and police use, are the most deadly weapons available until you get up to fully automatic large caliber weapons like the .50 caliber machine guns and above.

    Bulletproof vests are designed to stop handgun rounds, not rifles. Any rifle will punch through a normal bulletproof vest. Including the millions of deer rifles, all of which are more powerful than the .223.

    All rifles are accurate out to 500 meters in trained hands – and again. most of them are more powerful than the .223

    The bank robbery you are referring to (I was trained on that scenario while I was police reservist) included illegal weapons. The larger round was used – .308, or 7.62 mm, which is still smaller and less powerful than the commonplace .30-06 deer hunting round. None of them had “drum magazines”, they all used the standard 20 and 30 round magazines commonly available. And if they had used 5 round magazines instead, that would have added a couple of extra seconds (yes, that’s all) to discharging 30 rounds.

    Military ammunition isn’t more powerful or more damaging than civilian ammunition. In fact, to some degree the reason we switched to .223 as our primary military caliber is because they are LESS LETHAL. In a war, you don’t want to kill the enemy – you want to stop them from killing you and put them in the hospital, because then your opponent has to expend the resources to treat them. Dead bodies are cheap to handle in comparison to live injured soldiers.

    And the bottom line is that while .223 rifles with 30 round magazines can shot farther and faster than .30-06 deer rifles with 5 or 10 round magazines, the number of semi automatic RIFLES used in homicides in vanishingly small. Almost all gun homicides are committed with handguns, and the next most likely weapon is a shotgun. You are talking about trying to impose arbitrary limits on 50 million gun owners to stop 1 in a million that are crazy and violent, who if they desire to kill people cannot be stopped. One Oklahoma City truck bomb at a mall on Black Friday would kill more innocent people than all the mass shooting in the last 75 years.

    Why not instead focus on things that could actually reduce the violence – licenses, registration, competency testing, and mental health.

    And just to add some reality, assuming a ban was reinstated on “assault weapons” and “high capacity magazines” it would have NO EFFECT. Because everyone already figured out how to get around it the last time. A hunting rifle with a 5 round magazine is no different than a military rifle with a 30 round magazine mechanically, and what people do is buy the hunting rifle, an aftermarket stock with a pistol grip, and purchase large magazines from private owners (that have millions of them already) and viola, they have the same weapons you are trying to stop and now they are legal. Unless you want to try and confiscate all the existing weapons and magazines in the US – which will never get passed, would be impossible to enforce, and would be ignored by almost every existing gun owner.

    Friday, December 21, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink
  14. ThatGuy wrote:

    Sorry, I meant for my post to refer to the .223 as more powerful at range rather than more powerful AND more effective at range (though outside of the DC sniper, range hasn’t been that big an issue). I also appreciate the clarification on range. My poorly stated (or well disguised?) point is that these civilian versions of assault rifles are sort of the Ferraris of firearms. They’re flashy and capable and have a habit of showing up in spectacular shooting events.

    I completely hear you on hunting rifles, which is why I didn’t include them. The reason I didn’t is because they seem less likely to be used in these mass shootings or everyday shootings than hunting rifles.

    As for the Hollywood Shootout, there were drum magazines used, but it was on the AR-15 (I had thought both gunmen used AK variants, but only one did). The bottom left photo shows the weapon with the drum attached.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_Hollywood_shootout

    As for the ~5 seconds of reloading, I understand it isn’t long. But say you have 10 round magazines instead of 100, each of those 5 second periods add up, even more so if you’re down to 5 round magazines. I think it ends up being about 4 rounds not being fired in each of those pauses (with a 45 rpm rate that seems to be the effective rate of the XM-15), potentially 4 lives, though crunching these kinds of numbers is not a guarantee of anything. In this case I really tend to side with you, register the magazines and know where they are, I’d rather time be spent tracking ammunition sales and gun sales in general than worrying about magazines.

    I think the important thing, moving forward, is to have effective firearms regulations. If we impose a ban on assault rifles, it has to have a lot fewer loopholes than the 1994 ban, which was a joke. I’d prefer stringent screening, licensing, and tracking of all firearms to banning one particular type (short of fully automatic weapons, of course).

    I think the biggest thing we disagree on, Arthanyel, is whether or not new laws are worth it. Again, I understand that any ban on assault rifle lookalikes or high-capacity magazines will take a long time to bear any fruit. To me, the wait is worth it, much better to staunch the flow of these things now (even if it is just regulating them more intensely, rather than a ban) and hope (through buybacks, new sales bans, whatever) that we can get a handle on our gun problem. I don’t think it’s wise to look at an issue and decide it’s too hard to tackle and give up when 11,000 people are murdered by firearms just about every year (not to mention the 20,000 or so who kill themselves with guns each year). 11,000 would be a hard number to hit with a truck bomb at a mall, though it would be devastating. Keep in mind though, pulling a trigger takes a lot less planning and effort than building a bomb. A couple states even started tracking large fertilizer purchases after the OKC bombing. Not enough was done after that event, but it’s likely to be a lot more than we do after Sandy Hook.

    Saturday, December 22, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink
  15. Arthanyel wrote:

    Thatguy – thanks for the clarification, and also its hard to have these conversations because little terminology errors tend to send people off i. The wrong direction. Looking at the photos of the weapons in the Hollywood shooting clearly shows that no drum magazines were used – just regular magazines. A drum magazine looks like a wheel, holds on average 100 rounds, as is impractical for rifle bullets. You see them on old pictures of Thompson submachine guns (all illegal now).

    That said we actually agree that new laws are needed and worth it. I am strongly of the belief we need much more control on guns. What we disagree on is whether trying to ban specific types of weapons will be of any value.

    And I submit for you the LAST time we had an “assault weapon” ban. The result – gun violence went substantially UP, and within a few months everyone had circumvented the ban and was still buying weapons that were mechanically identical – but legal – to weapons that had been banned. The “assault gun” ban expired in 2004 – and since the gun violence has been going DOWN.

    I don’t believe there is causation there – I don’t think easy access to semiautomatic rifles lowers gun violence. But I do think it is clear proof that bans on them do not REDUCE violence.

    why don’t we just start by controlling gun OWNERS and insuring that all gun owners are licensed, competent and sane, that all guns must be locked up at all times unles they are in active use, and that in order to buy a gun or even a round of ammunition you have to be licensed? That way we minimize the people who have guns, we minimize access to them, and that would make tragedies far less likely.

    After all,if Nancy Lanza had just had a guy safe, nothing would have happened.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink
  16. Thatguy wrote:

    The drum magazine is shown in the picture under aftermath and controversy. It does note that it is illegal. Or is that just a high capacity magazine and not technically a ‘drum’? I’ve only shot AR-15s with 30 round magazines, but I know the photo shows the weapon tilted up a bit, where it would lay flat with a standard magazine.

    But yes, it’s a matter of proper and thorough regulation. The ban in the 90s can hardly be considered a ban with how many loopholes there were. The new Feinstein bill is much the same, symbolic yet ultimately ineffective. Whatever is done it has to be serious but we also need to remember that even after a bill passes it will take a long time to actually do anything.

    Sunday, December 23, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

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