The Daily Brew

Tuesday, October 22, 2002:

Common Sense // 12:36 AM


----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, October 21, 2002 11:18 PM
Subject: Your October 16, 2002 column featuring assault weapon licensing

Are you of the opinion that it is it legal for a person to possess an assault weapon? I believe that present laws prohibit individuals from owning any of a long list of firearms which are designated assault weapons.

Hi GoGoAugie, or can I call you GoGo?

Depends on how you define "assault weapons" now doesn't it? Personally, I consider any gun which can kill me as an "assault weapon." Clearly the sniper who is currently terrorizing the D.C. area could have bought a 50 caliber rifle capable of consistent accuracy at a range of over 500 yards in any of America's fine gunshops. I, for one, consider the sniper's MO far more threatening than a close-in assault you would find with an Uzi or some such weapon, because he is far more likely to survive to snipe again than one who choses to show themself during the attack. I thus consider a good sniper rifle with a good scope with night vision far more dangerous than many guns currently outlawed with the arbitrary definition of "assault weapons."

The very folks who you most passionately wish would register their assault weapons are the very folks who will never do so. They obtained their weapons illegally. Do you really expect them to come forward and risk being jailed? I have read that estimates of their number well exceed two million.

You have read estimates that two million people have obtained weapons illegally? I find that easily conceivable, although I would like to understand the methodology for the estimation, as I doubt they would be any more likely to admit to illegally buying, selling, or stealing a gun as they would be to register it.

Why is it that the hundreds of current laws which were intended to control the problem fail to do so? And, what makes you so sure that a brand new law will do the trick?

I doubt very seriously that a brand new law will end gun violence, just as I doubt that the government will be able to defend us from terrorists even after stripping us of our civil rights. I do think that having a register of ballistic fingerprints of sniper rifles could have some positive benefit, however, even if it were only to lessen the likelyhood that any gun so registered would be used to pick off random people.

The remedy is a simple one. The full weight of the present laws should come down with merciless severity, without exception, upon all persons convicted of possession of any illegal firearm, assault or otherwise. This is not done now and it will never be done. Why? Those with political ambitions believe it is better to retain the problem for use as a straw man with whom to joust.

I agree with the cynicism of your second point, however, I wonder about your first. Can you site me statistics that show that most, or even a large minority, of shootings are by people in possession of an illegal firearm? Even if what you say is true, I note that we have hammered the black community with the "full weight" of the drug laws for several decades with little to show for it, so I am skeptical of your proposed solution.

Listen to any incumbent exhort voters to return him for another term. He promises to fix everything that he promised to fix the last time he ran, and the time before that, etc. It seems as though politicians worry that if everything gets fixed, they will no longer have anything to talk about fixing. So, they keep talking about the problems that need fixing and manage to never fix much of anything.

I disagree emphatically with this assertion. IMHO, democracy has made life infinitely more bearable for virtually every member of the world's population who has had the pleasure to live under it, and politics and politicians have created every single reason for that fact.

It appears as if you have been recruited to carry this water for these pols. Having read these same arguments under quite a few different bylines leads me to conclude that there are enough water carriers to form a lengthy bucket brigade.

I hardly disguise the fact that I am an enthusiastic partisan participant in the political process. Refusing to participate is to surrender your influence on the world around you, a choice only a coward makes. Participating on behalf of the GOP simply accelerates our own demise. Participating on behalf of groups who splinter the vote for progressive candidates ensuring the election of the GOP is simply another form of suicide, albeit one with the apparent benefit of allowing the self-deluded to proclaim their hastening of disaster as somehow noble or moral. Thus, I am left with only one choice. I support the most progressive candidate who has a chance of winning. Anyone who doesn't is, in my opinion, either a coward or a fool.

But, back to your commentary -- assuming the enactment of legislation satisfactory to you, how long do you think it would it take for that mutually despised "skinhead with a swastika tattooed on his neck" to show up at the registry?

For so long as he waited to buy a gun legally, which is an improvement over the current state of affairs.
Common Sense // 12:20 AM


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