In 2004 the United States Congress failed to renew the 10 year ban on the sale and possession of assault weapons within the U.S. that expired that year. This was a grave mistake. There is neither a logical nor legal basis for allowing people to carry assault weaponsweapons that are meant to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, not simply to hunt or defend one’s self.
The primary reason that gun advocates give for needing firearms is self-defense. They are right, a person does have the right to defend themselves, and with lethal force, if necessary. But think about the types of weapons we are talking about. When the law says “assault weapon” it means things like AK-47’s and Uzis. These are not home defense devices, they are military weapons! The Army uses them. Unless someone has a foreign invasion force coming through their front door, they don’t need a semi-automatic rifle for home defense.
In fact, the only reason to fight for assault weapons to be legal is because the second Amendment to the Constitution says “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed (1787).” This means, pro-gun activists say, that private citizens’ right to own weapons is guaranteed by the Constitution. Hello? Even if one manages to read the Amendment as saying that even a private citizen can bear arms (and the clauses about the militia are only meant as an introduction), the dictionary defines a militia as “A body of citizens enrolled for military service but called out only for emergencies (Braham, 1998).” Of course the founding fathers guaranteed the right for private citizens to bear armsat that time, the army was made up of private citizens!
Some suggest a “compromise”: let assault weapons be sold commercially, but upgrade police units from carrying pistols to carrying similar military-grade weapons. This is a fantastically dumb idea: instead of simply banning the weapons, we can let both sides have them, leading to a miniature arms race between the police and the criminals. That way, we can force the criminals to use even deadlier force in the future. Yay!
Gun laws in general are an issue unto themselves, both sides with legitimate reasoning. This debate is just idiocy, with logic on one side and only the wish for as much freedom as possible on the other. While wanting freedom is not bad, those who oppose banning assault weapons must realize that just because they may be able to force a reading of the second Amendment to suit their purposes doesn’t mean they should. They need to use common sense and stop the senseless, needless killing.
Braham, C. (1998). Random House Webster’s Dictionary. New York: Ballantine Books.
United States Constitution, Amendment II.