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National Assault Weapons Ban Renewal Long Overdue

Colorado shootings more evidence for the need to ban assault weapons nationwide.

In many states, there is no limit on the number of guns, nor on the amount of ammunition, one can buy.

In New Jersey, however, you cannot purchase more than one gun each month and assault weapons are banned.

The state ranked second behind California on the national scorecard of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. According to the campaign, the six states with the toughest gun laws also had the lowest gun death rates in the nation last year.

Now that makes sense, doesn’t it?

Including Friday’s mass shooting in a Colorado movie theater that claimed the lives of a dozen people and wounded 70, including a 23-year-old Sussex County woman, 20 people have been killed and 95 wounded in 22 days.

A timeline by the Los Angeles Times of the deadliest mass shootings (at least five deaths) in the country shows that since the repeal of the assault weapons ban, 122 people have been killed in such shootings. The list includes the shootings at Fort Hood and in Binghamton, N.Y. The two 2009 shootings resulted in the deaths of 13, as well as the 2007 rampage at Virginia Tech, where a student slaughtered 32.

While it is unclear what drove James Holmes to allegedly open fire in a crowded movie theater early Friday morning at the opening of the latest Batman movie in Aurora, Colo., it is abundantly clear that he was able to do so much damage because he used a semi-automatic assault rifle, among other weapons. News reports indicate Holmes allegedly bought four guns and more than 6,000 rounds of ammunition in the last two months.

He bought all that firepower legally.

Variants of one of the weapons Holmes allegedly used in the attack, an AR-15 rifle, was included in a federal ban on assault weapons enacted by former President Bill Clinton in 1994. However, the ban expired in 2004 and was not re-enacted.

Why does the average citizen need a semi-automatic weapon?

These reportedly can fire between 45 and 60 rounds per minute. Why does anyone, except a police or military officer, need to shoot so many bullets so quickly?

Hunters argue they should be able to own guns in order to shoot at wild game.

Citizens argue they should be able to own a gun in order to shoot wild robbers who might break into their homes.

The National Rifle Association argues everyone should be able to own a gun because the Constitution says so.

The Constitution also says people have the right to assemble peacefully, but there are rules for protests and police were able to disperse Occupy Wall Street protesters in cities like New York for alleged unsanitary and hazardous conditions.

The Constitution also says Americans have free speech, but that doesn’t give one the right to slander another, or, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote, to falsely shout fire in a crowded theater and create a panic.

Yet, thanks to the demands of the NRA, the Constitution gave James Holmes the right to buy as many guns and as much ammo as he wanted. So armed, Holmes caused true panic when he brought his weapons into a crowded theater and opened fire, stealing the life from 12 people, the youngest a beautiful 6-year-old little girl.

Longer ago, and not so far away from Aurora, two students murdered a dozen others plus a teacher and wounded 24 others at Columbine High School.

These shooters always seem to exhibit either serious mental illness or psychopathy or rage or all of these. That won’t stop. But perhaps if such deadly weapons were not so readily available, there would be fewer victims.

n August 05, 2012 at 02:24 AM
Mike
n August 05, 2012 at 02:26 AM
and
n August 05, 2012 at 02:26 AM
F.M.
Melissa August 06, 2012 at 04:07 AM
why does everyone keep making this a gun issue? This is NOT A GUN ISSUE!! Its a mental health issue!! Until such time as mental health is taken more seriously by not only our insurance companies, but society and the stigma removed, things like this are just going to continue to happen --- mental health is a serious issue that needs attention - if it isn't guns, it will be other means - STOP THE STIGMA and start taking this very serious illness seriously!!!!
Selene August 06, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Yes Melissa, you are right. The guy was nuts and gun control has little to do with his rampage. He could have thrown home made bombs into the crowded theatre...he was crazy! Plain and simple.
Ron Soussa August 06, 2012 at 08:55 PM
Great point, Melissa!
John D August 09, 2012 at 09:15 PM
If a conservative doesn't like guns, he doesn't buy one. If a liberal doesn't like guns, he wants all guns outlawed. If a conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn't eat meat. If a liberal is a vegetarian,he wants all meat products banned for everyone. If a conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation. A liberal wonders who is going to take care of him. If a conservative doesn't like a talk show host, he switches channels. Liberals demand that those they don't like be shut down. If a conservative is a non-believer, he doesn't go to church. A liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and Jesus silenced. If a conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it. A liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.
Mark Von Till October 09, 2012 at 03:30 AM
I disagree with a ban on assault weapons. What is the definition of an assault weapon, anyway. And, who sets that standard?
Mikey October 09, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Here are the definitions : Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following: Folding or telescoping stock Pistol grip Bayonet mount Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one Grenade launcher (more precisely, a muzzle device which enables the launching or firing of rifle grenades, though this applies only to muzzle mounted grenade launchers and not those which are mounted externally). Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following: Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm. Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following: Folding or telescoping stock Pistol grip Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds Detachable magazine.
Prentiss Gray October 09, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I wish I knew what the cure for gun violence was, If I thought banning them all was a sure cure, you could have all mine right now. I think the problem is much, much, more difficult. I'd rather have a nationwide licensing program, similar to a drivers license and registrations and tracking of all guns. Training, enforced responsibility, education and identification would be the key factors. Although, a large component of our mass shooting problem is also a matter of mental health. Trying to fix that by banning guns is a lot like trying to wag the dog by it's tail.
John D October 09, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Part 1 Prentiss, I have the solution for addressing the mental health component of gun violence. Please listen and think about how simple this solution really is. First of all, lets go over the facts of the Colorado Movie Massacre committed by James Holmes. We know he was seen by a mental health professional. We know that this professional deemed Mr Holmes to be a threat and immediately notified the campus police and the Behavioral Threat Assessment Team and that this warning was given 2 weeks before the incident. The rest is history. Now here is the very simple solution. The laws should be changed such that any mental health professional who is treating a patient and deems that patient to be a threat to themselves or other people, they should have at their disposal a tool to preserve the safety of the general public and also the ability to get the patient needed help. This would be done thru a court ordered restraining order, enforced by the local sheriff, such that the patient's access to weapons would be removed (seized) and the patient would be admitted into a mental health facility to begin treatment (intervention). Any member of society today can get a restraining order against another individual if they feel unsafe for any reason, and also from verbal threats. If all mental health professionals had the same tool at their disposal, many violent crimes would be prevented.
John D October 09, 2012 at 01:22 PM
Part 2 When Holmes' therapist went to warn the campus police and the threat assessment team, she should have had this tool available as well. Holmes' weapons would have been seized and all those lives would have been spared. Now, I've wrote letters to both of my senators and I've reached out to one survivor of the shooting in effort to get someone to sponsor a bill to make this available going forward. If you know how to push this idea further, please help. Its so simple and we already have the system in place for regular citizens seeking protection. We need to offer this to mental health professionals so that their hands are not tied and so that law enforcement notified by mental health professionals can act.
Prentiss Gray October 09, 2012 at 01:47 PM
This sounds like a very reasonable and well thought out idea. I would like to see some safeguards like double checking the mental health professional's assessment (a rapid check) and some path for the affected individual after the assessment. As for getting a sponsor for the bill, let me think about that. You might want to make an appointment with the senators, personal appeals are so much more effective and you might get some insight as to what you might be up against.
J M December 12, 2012 at 06:14 AM
Rewriting our laws based on isolated events is bad policy. Of course it's easy to politicize events like these shootings. The problem is they are far from the norm. My experience has been that those people who oppose gun ownership of one sort or another typically have no experience with guns. The judgement against guns is made on scary stories in the news and not on an understanding of how they are owned and used by the 50 million or so Americans who own guns and never commit a murder. If someone driving a Ford Mustang far above the speed limit caused an accident and killed several people would we ban all Ford Mustangs and similar "dangerous muscle cars"? Hey why does your average citizen "need" a dangerous muscle car anyway?
Prentiss Gray December 12, 2012 at 02:02 PM
That makes sense. Forget about taking everyone's guns away and concentrate on doing what we can to have reasonable rules and registration. It's ridiculous that we have to get a new license to drive every so often but a firearms ID is good forever. Gun owners and non-owners can certainly agree that firearms need to be used responsibly and we need to do what we can to keep them out of the hands of those who would misuse them. I am a gun owner, many guns in fact and I no more want a traffic in illegal guns, purchases without a background check or freely available assault weapon and high capacity magazines than I do citizen ownership of missiles.
Ron Soussa December 12, 2012 at 11:07 PM
There is *WAY* too much misinformation on this subject. First of all, TCG, "assault" weapons are already banned. It is virtually impossible for anyone (non military/LEO) to get a fully automatic weapon. So the discussion about the purpose of such weapons is meaningless. Secondly, Prentiss, your analogy to driver's licenses is ridiculous. The requirement to get a new one seldom requires any sort of test, just payment of new fees. The payment of new fees, whether for a driver's license or firearms ID does absolutely nothing to enhance public safety. When will you people get it through your heads that no amount of laws will prevent those who determined to commit murder from doing so? Murder is already illegal. The vast majority of homocides do not involve firearms, and of those that do, the vast majority take place with guns that are illegally acquired. Responsibility rests with the individual, not the inanimate object. Prohibition is never the answer. Just look at our "war on drugs" to see what a pathetic failure that has been on ending access to them.
Prentiss Gray December 13, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Whenever you get a license re-issue, a new picture is taken, address information is verified and any new physical personal information is added. I agree that the "War on drugs" is a good lesson, simply banning something rarely works. Controlling it is far more effective. We can't expect to stop all gun-related violence with any set of rules, but we can put a dent in it and we should try. As gun owners we should be much more hard on those who misuse them. For instance how many of us know owners who regularly drink and shoot? How many know hunters who carry a bottle or a six pack into the woods for a day of hunting? We should be the first line of defense against this kind of dangerous foolishness. It put's us all at risk.
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 13, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Prentiss - which part of SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED was insufficiently clear? If the Founders mentioned licensing or carry permits, it must have slipped off my copy of the Constitution.
stewart resmer December 13, 2012 at 02:39 PM
JM keep yer day job, as a constitutional scholar you are less than the objective critical thinker. In the scenario you use, the mustang has federal mandated seat belts air bags abs brakes smog controls and horsepower to displacement limitations, some of us do have experience with weapons and yet we still advocate for gun control.
Prentiss Gray December 13, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Max, that particular phrase has been in contention for hundreds of years. Currently the rulings by the supreme court do support limitations for the kinds of weapons citizens can keep and bear. They also support the ability of States to regulate firearm ownership as well as other type of weapons.
Hookerman December 13, 2012 at 02:59 PM
"Rewriting our laws based on isolated events is bad policy." You mean like Kyleigh's Law??? Oooops, sorry... off topic.
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 13, 2012 at 03:08 PM
Prentiss, I am sure the Founders would find a perfect lamppost for a traitorous public servant in a black robe who disregards his oath of office and barters the Constitution for perceived safety. But we, since the country ceased to be a Constitutional Republic decades ago, will have take the judges' biased private opinion as Gospel.
Ron Soussa December 14, 2012 at 06:15 PM
Prentiss, NJ Firearms ID cards don’t have photographs on them. Do you really believe that a requirement to update a person’s physical information is going to significantly improve public safety? Every gun owner I know has zero tolerance for the type of dangerous foolishness you describe. I don’t know anyone who combines drinking and shooting. Again, if you think that drunken hunters are a significant hazard to public safety - and that existing laws prohibiting it are required – I would suggest that your priorities are misplaced. You are proposing solutions in need of a problem. Mass shootings may be sensational news, but they are statistically insignificant. One has a far higher likelihood of being a drowning or car accident victim. Focus your efforts where they will produce real results.
Prentiss Gray December 14, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I think firearms ID's should have pictures on them. It's good that you have no friends that combine drinking and shooting, but there are plenty of gun owners that do. Google "drinking and shooting." As I said it's up to us, the responsible owners, to spearhead sensible laws. That's where my efforts are focused. Unless we do it, we'll have laws forced upon us. Here's another rampage in connecticut, at a school no less. If we don't take the initiative someone else will.
Ron Soussa December 14, 2012 at 06:43 PM
Prentiss, we don't need more "sensible" laws. They don't do a darn thing to stop crazy people (those who shoot up innocents in schools must be nuts) determined to respond to their inner voices. The Ct. school - like Columbine, VA. Tech, Aurora, etc., - is a "gun free" zone. Some geniuses thought that is a "sensible" idea, as if criminal murderers pay attention to signs.. http://preview.tinyurl.com/cb73dxl Sure there are drunken hunters just as there are drunken drivers. Doing either is already illegal. Please tell us what additional laws you suggest, while balancing the restrictions they will impose against the rights of our citizens. Remember that accidental falls are a leading cause of death. Would you propose a requirement for kids to wear bubble wrap?
Prentiss Gray December 14, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Not trying to stop situations like Columbine, mental health is not specifically a gun issue. This is about banning assault weapons and not letting irresponsible people have guns in the first place and getting them out of the hands of those who are unsuited to the responsibility. No law can stop someone who is determined to misbehave at all costs. But you still can and should make every effort to discourage it. Bubble wrap kids? I'd rather make their first cars out of rubber.
Ron Soussa December 16, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Prentiss, You wrote "This is about banning assault weapons..". Assault weapons are already banned. Since you don't know that basic fact - or that firearms ID cards don't have photos on them - it's clear that you don't know what you're talking about with respect to firearms or the laws that regulate them. Go invent the rubber car.
Diane Jones December 16, 2012 at 02:51 PM
Well, another mass shooting has happened with an assault weapon. 6 & 7 year olds killed in cold blood for nothing. They probably never knew the kid. Now if you go and do a search on guns laws like I did; You will find that the National Assault Weapon law ended in 2004 and has never been reinstated yet. This weapon this kid used is the same as what our soldiers are using in Afghanistan. There is no reason any regular citizen needs a weapon like that in a home esp. with a mentally handicapped son living there. She had to apply to the FBI and the state etc to get the permit to buy this rifle that shot off many rounds at one time killing all these little kids. WHAT MORE WILL IT TAKE TO WAKE FOLKS UP. the 2nd amendment was passed when we only had rifles and handguns of some sort. Now we have so many more guns of all kinds that shoot without having to refill the barrel. HOW MANY MORE NEED TO DIE. Gabby, VA tech, Columbine, Conn., I can't think of the others right now.
Maxim Sapozhnikov December 16, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Diane Jones, car accidents kill more people every year than any weapons. why don't we outlaw cars? Why don't you give up on YOUR car? It's a potential murder weapon! Oh, and while we're at that, why don't we outlaw public schools? They are deathtraps for kids, and we are MANDATED BY LAW to send our kids there.
Ron Soussa December 17, 2012 at 05:00 AM
Diane Jones, I can understand your emotion, but passing along false information does nothing to help. The weapon used by the shooter is completely different than that used by our soldiers, who use select fire (assault rifles) weapons capable of fully automatic fire. The better discussion should be about mental illness and how we deal with it as a society: thebluereview.org/i-am-adam-lanzas-mother/

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