The big gun-control bill House Democrats are pushing after the horrific Florida school shooting has a significant flaw. It won’t prevent the next school shooting.
On Monday, House Democrats introduced an assault weapons ban. Of the 193 Democrats in the House, 168 are sponsors or co-sponsors. That includes Reps. Dina Titus, Jacky Rosen and Ruben Kihuen, Nevada’s three House Democrats.
The bill would make it illegal to sell most semi-automatic rifles. It specifically outlaws 205 types of weapons. That list includes rifles, pistols and even shotguns. If that’s not enough, its language is so broad that it would ban any “part … that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semi-automatic rifle.”
That’s a really wordy way to describe a trigger.
It’s a far-reaching bill with one ginormous loophole. The bill exempts every legal firearm in circulation at the time the bill becomes law. The Washington Post estimated there were 357 million guns in the United States as of 2013. That number doesn’t include guns made or brought here illegally. The U.S. population is 323 million.
The exact number of rifles in the United States isn’t known. At least 40 million would be a conservative estimate, based on ATF numbers cited by the Post. That would include millions of AR-15-style weapons. Democrats’ assault weapons ban would make obtaining an AR-15 more expensive, but it certainly wouldn’t have prevented a determined adult from legally obtaining one.
This is why gun owners are rightfully suspicious of gun-control proposals.
Option A: Bill supporters can’t do the elementary logic laid out above. This bill is analogous to believing we can stop criminals from bringing guns on campus by declaring schools “gun-free zones.”
Option B: They think gun owners are “deplorables,” and this bill is about securing a win in the culture war, not fixing a policy problem. It’s easy to think this when the “unbiased” media keep featuring — and praising — shooting survivors who smear the NRA using terms such as “child murderers.”
Option C: It’s a cynical political ploy. Democrats didn’t do anything about guns when they had full control of Congress in 2010 and Barack Obama was president. In the minority, however, this bill is an easy way to gin up your base.
Option D: They really want to confiscate all firearms, and they’re leveraging this tragedy to take the first step down that road.
“All of the above” is an option, too. It’s heading toward gun confiscation, however, that’s the most concerning.
In order for a ban on semi-automatic rifles to even theoretically stop school shooters, the government would have to confiscate those rifles currently in private hands.
Leave aside the constitutional and practical problems with gun confiscation. Taking every rifle in America away from its owner wouldn’t stop school shootings. The deadliest school shooting in America took place at Virginia Tech. The killer used handguns. So did a 2014 school shooter in Washington state and the 2015 South Carolina church shooter.
It’s not just mass shootings. Murders with rifles are statistical outliers. That’s important to remember because the stated goal of gun-control groups such as Giffords and Everytown is to reduce gun violence. Gun grabbers wouldn’t stop with confiscating rifles when handguns account for 80 percent of gun homicides each year.
That means passing a handgun ban. With more than 100 million handguns in circulation, a ban would be ineffective without confiscation.
Stopping every gun homicide in the country wouldn’t even cut the rate of gun deaths in America by half. That’s because 60 percent of gun deaths are suicides. A shotgun, revolver or bolt-action rifle are very lethal for those purposes.
If you think restricting the access law-abiding citizens have to guns is needed to stop gun violence, you’ll always be moving toward confiscation. Gun-control advocates should have the courage to say so.