Guns & Gov: Banning Assault Weapons

In the wake of the Newtown shooting massacre and related gun rampages, it is important to note there is no easy or quick solution to solving the epidemic of mass gun violence in America. A comprehensive multi-pronged approach is needed by the public sector and private sector alike to address a broad range of issues related to firearms, including:

1) Strong enforcement of current gun laws, or lack thereof.
2) Closing legal loopholes, such as no background checks at gun shows.
3) Studying the relation between mental health, age and gun violence.
4) Regulating industries which desensitize young people to gun violence.
5) Leveraging Big Data to improve background checks and gun tracking systems.
6) Enacting stronger deterrents and harsher penalties for those who violate gun laws.
7) Increasing citizen engagement through enhanced public education and awareness campaigns.
8) Fostering non-partisan partnerships to promote sensible gun laws.

Sensible First Step
The first sensible gun measure the government should implement immediately is reinstating a more stringent version of the federal assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004. Any new version of this prohibition would have to close unintended loopholes the firearms industry successfully exploited while the ban was in effect for a decade. Military-style high power ammunition, clips and magazines should also be banished from public use.

Based on the latest public and political pronouncements, it appears there may be a national consensus building for a new assault weapons ban. This would be a good start and a fitting first step in a larger strategy. Swift action needs to be taken now, while the issue of gun control is still front and center.

Like tens of millions of Americans, I personally support the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. However, non-military weapons are already lethal enough. Please don’t tell me that sportsmen need semi-automatic weapons to hunt down Bambi and her friends in the woods.

Logic and Common Sense
As President Obama previously said about military-style firearms, “Weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets.”

If that’s not the essence of logic and common sense then I don’t know what is? The President is reportedly seeking potential solutions from top Administration officials, including consideration of the assault weapons ban. On Sunday, he spoke in Newtown about the tragedy — see video clip here.

The assault weapons ban should be revived because, “We are killing each other [with frequency] and we are the only industrialized country in the world doing it,” as Mayor Bloomberg of New York City stated on “Meet the Press” (NBC).

In fact, Americans are 20 times more likely to die from gun shootings than citizens of any other developed nation on the planet, according to a study from the Journal of Trauma cited by Diane Sawyer on “World News Tonight” (ABC).

Even West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, a pro-gun advocate and avid hunter, acknowledged, “I don’t know anyone in the sporting or hunting arena that goes out with an assault rifle. I don’t know anyone who needs 30 rounds in a clip to go hunting.”

NRA: Major Obstacle

Yet there is one major obstacle standing in the way of a new assault weapons ban: the infamous National Rifle Association (NRA), which wields herculean strength on Capitol Hill. The NRA has many members of Congress in its back pocket due to large campaign contributions and key political support.

The influential NRA is the main reason why the prior assault weapons ban was not renewed eight years ago. Yesterday, protesters marched on the gun lobby’s Washington office shouting, “Shame on the NRA!”

Interestingly enough, the NRA may be running scared for a change – at least for the time being. The powerful gun lobby has refused to comment thus far on the Newtown shooting rampage or explain why the assault weapons ban should not be reinstated. The NRA has even muzzled itself on social media, which in today’s digital age is like going into the witness protection program.

Reasonable Restrictions

Although the Supreme Court has consistently upheld gun rights, it has also stated that in certain circumstances reasonable restrictions on firearms are consistent with the Constitution.

Considering the raging epidemic of mass gun violence in America, it should not be considered unreasonable to ban military-style assault weapons for civilian use. Isn’t that the least we can do as a reasonable and rational first step toward curtailing gun massacres? Isn’t that the least we can do to honor the victims of Newtown and so many other gun-related mass murders in America?

The purpose of using military-style assault weapons is to kill as many people as possible as fast as possible.

When the Founding Fathers penned the Second Amendment, did they really expect federal courts to render legal rulings allowing citizens to arm themselves to the teeth with some of the most deadly types of firearms, those once reserved only for military warfare?

Regardless, enough is enough already.

Also see:

Should Schools Have Police Presence? The NRA says YES.

Guns & Government: What’s the Solution?


* All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.

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Neil Bonner

With all due respect David, spare me your sanctimony. Have you forgotten the aftermath of Katrina? Have you forgotten the L.A. Riots in 1992? Perhaps a little refresher is in order.

Starting in April 1992 there were six days of widespread rioting in Los Angeles where the police was largely absent as it was deemed “too dangerous” for them to be out on the streets. 53 people were killed during the rioting and there were OVER 2,000 injuries. Citizen and shopkeepers were forced to defend themselves from the rioters and looters as the government was unable and unwilling to protect its citizens.

Some Korean-American shopkeepers used AR-15’s to defend themselves and their shops from the looters. They were largely successful but the citizens and shopkeepers without AR-15’s had their stores destroyed. In all 2,300 Korean-American’s had their shops looted or burned.

Many Los Angeles citizens wanted to purchase firearms to protect themselves from the rioting but the 10-day waiting period in California prevented them from self-defense while the rioting was ongoing.

So please don’t you dare suggest that AR-15’s and other so-called “assault weapons” including large capacity magazines have no place in the hands of private citizens. How dare you? How dare you try to violate our civil rights?

[The thoughts expressed here are my own, not my employer, etc.]

Tom Sullivan


Once again there is no answer to the question of how reinstating the ban on “assault weapons” is “a reasonable and rational first step toward curtailing gun massacres?” How exactly? How exactly will banning certain modifications, or combinations of modifications to long guns (rifles) have any effect at all on “gun massacres?” What about the thousands (possible hundreds of thousands, even millions) of those weapons already owned…i.e. enforcement? How will this reinstatement affect those like George Hennard who killed 23 people in Killeen, TX with two semi-auto handguns? Magazine capacity was not an issue because even with the magazines he had, he had to reload to perpetrate the horror he did.

This is one of the many things missing in the so-called debates that follow tragedies such as this…the idea that the burden of proof for imposing increased restrictions on the law-abiding among us should fall squarely on those, like you who wish to punish those of us that had nothing to do with this tragedy. Man-up, so to speak and make your case with facts instead of “scary” pictures.

On another note, the Supreme Court (and the founders for that matter) are squarely against the President’s supposition that “Weapons that were designed for soldiers in war theaters don’t belong on our streets.” In United States vs. Miller, 1958, the SCOTUS ruled that Miller’s possession of a sawed-off shotgun was not protected by the Second Amendment precisely because it was not “…any part of the ordinary military equipment or that its use could contribute to the common defense” (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=307&invol=174) (I would have personally argued that point, but that’s all moot now).

They tied the protections of the Second Amendment directly to the utilization of a particular weapon to its use by “…soldiers in war theaters…” – more specifically to the weapons’ utility by the militia as envisioned by the founders. Again, this whole “debate” reeks of the hubris and tyranny of good intentions.

As C. S. Lewis said: “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their consciences.”

David B. Grinberg

Thanks for the comment, Neil. I understand that folks have strong feelings about gun issues — on all sides. However, kindly note that I’m merely expressing my personal opinion, not trying to “violate our civil rights.”
The First Amendment still allows for freedom of speech and freedom of expression — at least the last time I checked.
Thanks again, Neil, for sharing your valuable input — which is very much appreciated. I hope you would agree that a robust discussion and open dialogue helps everyone better understand the underlying issues and options before us.

Allen Sheaprd


Hi. Gun issues, feelings and beliefs run surprisingly deep. While we disagree, your posts bring out a good discussion.

Not just the issues – the options for changing the status quo to something better for all of us. In my opinion the one common thread to these mass shootings is mental illness or personality issues.

If we can make better and better computers year after year why can’t we help make people better.

I heard Senator Warner (D-VA) say today “A doctor seeing someone with the classic symptoms of a heart attack can step in to help but a mental health provider can not due to privacy issues.” That was an eye opener.

Neil Bonner

David: trying to deny someone their 2nd Amendment Right is a ‘Civil Rights’ violation by definition. And I certainly would not deny you your 1st Amendment Right to express your opinion. But as Tom Sullivan points out below, the SCOTUS has already ruled that citizens have a right to “ordinary military equipment”.

So please, let’s be honest about this discussion — the anti- 2nd Amendment crowd want to deny citizens of their Constitutionally protected rights. There is a legitimate way to do that and it is thru the amendment process (2/3 of Congress and ¾ of the States). Good luck with that. Instead, the gun-grabbers will once again trample on the Constitution instead of using the amendment process.

Allen: the common thread is not really mental illness as Fort Hood, Texas showed us. The common thread is the so-called, “gun free zones”. US Army base Fort Hood (like all Army bases) do not allow the possession of firearms unless they are on-duty and authorized to carry a weapon. Both the mentally ill, evil and terrorists use gun-free zones to execute their mass shootings.

If we really were interested in reducing these types of mass shootings we would encourage all law-abiding citizens to be trained in the safe and competent use of firearms and be encouraged to carry them in all places at all times. By definition, we have nothing to fear from law-abiding citizens. We need to ensure that these responsible citizens are in a position to protect themselves and others from the depravations of the mentally ill and ideologically driven terrorists.

David: instead of your feel-good “solution” of banning “assault weapons” how about supporting a licensing and registration process that allowed law-abiding citizens with proper firearms training to carry firearms in all places at all times?

David B. Grinberg

Thanks again for your informative and insightful views, Neil. Just to reiterate, as stated above:

“Like tens of millions of Americans, I personally support the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. However, non-military weapons are already lethal enough.”

That’s my personal opinion.

Just because a person supports the Second Amendment, especially regarding non-assault weapons, does not mean such support is open ended to included every and all types of firearms imaginable. I believe there is an important distinction here. Moreover, as also noted above, I suggest that:

A comprehensive multi-pronged approach is needed by the public sector and private sector alike to address a broad range of issues related to firearms.”

I admit it’s not all about assault weapons, nor should it be. However, an assault weapons ban is one key component in this discussion, as legislation in Congress is already being planned for introduction in January 2013 (Sen. Diane Feinstein, etc) . Thus, while an assault weapons ban may, or may not be, part of the ultimate solution, it certainly warrants discussion and debate.

Thanks again, Neil, for articulating those important points — which I know many pro-gun advocates agree with.


David Dean

David you state the First Amendment allows robust (what ever that is) discussion. I agree. The Second Amendment allows me to carry a concealed weapon for my, and my families, personal safety. The number might be a bit off, but 49 states allow either concealed carry and/or open carry. I put my time and money where mouth where is. I am a life member of the NRA, I have been a Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) Instructor (state and NRA certified)for 15 years. I have trained about 2,500 CWP holders. I donate my time and expertise pro bono, and I raise money for 501(c)(3) organizations. I will continue to fight the gun ban lobby. Most of the gun ban lobby receive handsome salaries for the money they collect. Very little of the money goes “to ban guns.” Most goes to pay the staff. I am the face of the NRA, I am a retired Military Police Officer, retired federal employee, I hold a state wide police commission. My Grandson is on active duty in the “sand box.” He is 22 this is his second tour. Response?

David B. Grinberg

Mr. Dean, thank you for your sharing such sincere and enlightening comments on this heated issue. My response is this:

I am grateful to you and your family for the brave military service you have selflessly given to our nation. My father served in the military as a captain in a special explosives unit. I believe there is no higher honor than serving and defending America.

I am also grateful for your public service as a federal employee and law enforcement official. I respect your choice of being a life-long member of the NRA, as well as your goodwill volunteer efforts as a CWP instructor. If people choose to own and use firearms it is critically important they receive adequate training to handle such weapons in a safe and secure manner. Thus, you deserve kudos for your work.

Please note that I am not anti-gun or part of the anti-gun lobby. I’m just a concerned citizen. Like you and so many others, I strongly believe the Second Amendment affords every American the right to keep and bear arms — this is an undisputed fact. Likewise, I am not against lawful handgun owners concealing their weapons, as legally appropriate. What I am concerned about is an abundance of easy to obtain military-style assault weapons circulating among the public at large, which too often results in the mass murder of innocent civilians and bystanders.

As noted, such semi-automatic weapons are designed to kill as many people as possible as quickly as possible, sometimes with unforeseen and unintended gut-wrenching consequences. That’s why I believe such military-style assault weapons are best left in the hands of the military and well trained law enforcement officials.

Thank you again for your admirable service to our government and our country. Your comments are likewise very much appreciated.


David Dean

Define a “military assault rifle?” I am not aware of any so-called “military assault rifles” that are available without a special government license.

David B. Grinberg

Just to reiterate here: neither I nor countless other concerned Americans are calling for the abolition of all guns — which everyone knows is a Constitutional right protected by the Second Amendment. However, many reasonable people accross the country do support sensible gun laws, such as gun control of semi-automatic weapons (Oozies, ARs, .223s, etc.).

Yesterday in a lead editorial, ‘We Can Do Better’ (newspaper headline, not web), the Washington Post agreed that, “Congress should reimpose the assault weapons ban.” The editorial goes on to state:

“There is no defensible reason for civilians to own a Bushmaster or other semiautomatic rifles, known more broadly as assault weapons. This is essentially a military weapon, a version of the M-16, capable in some cases of shooting bullets at more than 2,000 feet per second. It does not belong in private hands, any more than M-1 Abrams tanks belong on Rockville Pike or mortars in the backyard.

The link between guns and violence is not always clear-cut. But the link between a certain kind of mass murder and a particular killing technology is clearer. It makes sense to reimpose strict limits on these assault weapons, including a ban on high-capacity magazines.”

Well put, in my opinion.


Tom Sullivan



I hate statistics, and as Thomas says here (https://www.govloop.com/profiles/blogs/guns-government-what-s-the-solution), statistics matter little when it’s your leg the shark is gnawing on. But any analysis of situations like this will inevitably rely on stats; and the ones cited in the links above must be part of that assessment if the assessors are being diligent.

It’s critical to remember (or should be…I have my doubts) that it’s concerned citizens like DBG that are espousing policies that will place restrictions on other American’s ability to purchase/own certain weapons, ammunition, accessories, etc. Therefore it is (or should be…again I have my doubts) incumbent upon them to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Color me skeptical as all I’ve heard or read so far is emotion (understandable) and knee-jerk reactions not befitting otherwise smart people.

So…can we all just take a long, slow, deep breath and think for a “minute” please?

David, first off define “sensible.” Sensible for who? It should be obvious that my sensible differs greatly from yours. Language like that reeks of utilitarianism. Second, you say once again that strict limits make sense but have yet to cite any statistics, reasons, justifications, or facts to support any link between the policies you support and how they would have affected this shooting or might affect future ones. Third, there are plenty of reasons why people might want or even need “military style weapons”…just ask the shop keepers that lived through the L.A. riots. Besides, my wants and needs are NOT yours or anyone elses’ to decide…period!

David Dean

David Grinberg has stated his opinion, nothing more nothing less. He has twisted and contorted his logic to attempt to please everyone. That is where David and I differ. My understanding of the 2nd Amendment is that I have a right to own firearms, I have a right to carry one. and I have a right to defend and protect my family and myself. The Messiah has appointed a “panel” which is Washington talk for, “I am not going to do anything.” He tried initially to appease and appeal to the rabid left wingers who know what is good for everyone, and all (but them) should obey their rules.

He should look at the numbers of death in the home because people do dumb things, fat people have to know they are eating them selves into an early grave bit by bit, motor vehicle deaths, cancer from lack of preventive medicine. The list goes on. The rabid left wingers have chosen firearms as a rallying point because they can play upon irrational fears, which raises a lot of money for the anti-gun mob. Most of the money raised goes into the salaries of the people who put the anti-gun organizations in place. The last thing these people want is total gun control. If they achieve what they say they want the cash would stop, and they (horrors) would have to work for a living. Every one has an agenda. The anti-gun mob attempts to keep theirs (cash in their pockets) hidden from public view.

David B. Grinberg

First, with all due respect, disparaging the President of the United States – whomever it is – arguably borders on being unpatriotic and un-American (at least in my view).

The beloved Ronald Reagan — may he rest in peace — once reiterated that facts are stubborn things. How true. Therefore, while the pro-gun “shoot ’em up” crowd may be entitled to its own radical opinions, it is not entitled to its own radical facts.
Below are statistics/facts from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
As you recall, James “Jim” Brady was President’s Reagan’s press secretary until he suffered permanent injuries after being gunned down during the attempt to assassinate the President of the United States. As everyone knows, former President Reagan is just one American President or national public figure who has been maliciously murdered or severely wounded over the years by deranged gunmen who abused their so-called “gun rights”.
Today it’s military-style assault weapons — killing machines — which gun owners demand. Tomorrow will it be military-style “flame throwers” or grenades or shoulder fired missiles? Where does it end? This is a dangerous slippery slope that must be addressed now through common sense gun legislation by our elected lawmakers. Some ask what “sensible” means reagrding sensible gun laws. The definition of sensible is: “Having, using, or showing good sense or sound judgment.”
STATISTICS from the Brady Center:
* There have been more than 70 mass shootings since the January 8, 2011, massacre in Tucson, Arizona.
* We lose on average 32 people a day to gun murders in the U.S.
* The homicide rate in the U.S. is 6.9 times higher than 22 other high-income, high population countries, combined.
* In one year (all ages): Almost 100,000 people in America are shot.
* In one year (ages 0-19): Almost 20,000 American children and teens
are shot. In addition to Newtown, don’t forget about Portland, Aurora, Tuscon (Gabby Giffords), Virginia Tech, and a long list of other mass murders.
* Every day (on average) 270 people in America, 47 of them children and teens
are shot.
*** Sources: CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System for most recent year available — via the Brady Center.
As the Brady campaign to prevent gun violence states: “THERE ARE TOO MANY VICTIMS OF GUN VIOLENCE because we make it too easy for dangerous people to get dangerous weapons in America.”
According to Jim’s wife, Sarah Brady, writing in the Huffington Post:
“Like many, I’m frustrated, sick and angry. We’ve had enough debates about guns. We need action. Most Americans don’t know how weak our guns laws are. Gun owners aren’t licensed. Guns aren’t registered. Why not? Because the NRA said so. The Brady Law, named for my husband after he was shot in the 1981 attempt to assassinate President Reagan, required background checks for gun purchases from licensed gun dealers. Most private sales, including those at gun shows, don’t require background checks. That’s insanity. The background check system needs to be improved to insure that all prohibited purchasers are, in fact, prohibited from obtaining and possessing firearms. And, yes, we need a real ban on semi-automatic assault weapons and on magazines of more than ten rounds.”
She continues: “The Bushmaster rifle is a weapon of war and has no place in civilian life. Yet, it’s easily available in America today.I’m sick, too, of hearing the gun lobby and the politicians it controls tell us that the only way to make us safer is to carry more guns. It’s another lie. My husband, Jim, knows that too well. He was surrounded by the U.S. Secret Service, the best-trained professionals in the world, when he was shot in the head.”
Wise words from a wise woman.

Dennis Snyder


Did you know that Reagan was shot by a cheap .22 revolver? Not a military-style assault weapon. No weapons ban of any kind could have prevented that. In fact the issue was that Reagan didn’t wear his bullet-proof vest, indicating a failure of his security detail rather than of national gun policy.

Circling back to the issue of facts that you brought up compells me to ask that your comments remain in context with the discussion you started.

David B. Grinberg

Yes, Dennis, I am aware of that. Nonethless, thanks for your points.

In my opinion, the context is clear and entirely applicable to the current debate: if John Hinkley Jr. had used a military-style assault weapon — so typical in today’s mass gun rampages — it’s very likey that President Reagan, Jim Brady, members of the Secret Service detail and perhaps others, ALL would have sufferred untimely deaths.

Phil Sammon

I would be curious to know how many people weighing in on this Constitutional issue really understand the Second Amendment, and have any idea about the effectiveness of the 1994 ban that expired in 2004.

* The Second Amendment was forced into the Bill of Rights so that ‘We the People’ as the last and ultimate measure by which the States can defend themselves, even against the tyranny of a federal government. To remove or severely hinder that ability strikes at the very heart of our “we the people”: form of government.

* During the 10 years of the 1994 ban, statistical there was no reduction in crimes, no more lives were saved from school or public mass shootings, and no fewer murders or crimes were committed as a result of it. It was window dressing at best, and a weak attempt to pre-emptively modify behaviors before the fact.

Given that criminals and those who are unstable will not abide by the more than 20,000-plus federal and state gun laws and restrictions we already have ni place, do any reasonable people think that more laws will work?

The two things that Newtown and all other school and public shootings have in common over the past 50 years, with the exception of Rep. Gifford’s shooting in Arizona – do you know? They all took place in “Gun-Free” zones, and NO ONE at that scene had a firearm with which ye could have prevented or stopped the shootings. They all had to cower in a corner and wait for someone with a gun to come and stop the carnage.

Does that make ANY sense to anyone?? Gun-Free zones do NOT work, and unarmed people always die in these situations because criminals and the mentally unstable do NOT follow the laws we already have. All these laws do is serve up more victims for the unstable and the criminal element in our society.

Israel has not had a school or public shooting of this kind in more than25 years, I believe, possibly longer. Why? They have a heavily-armed population for one, where in more than 60% of the instances of terrorism civilians are the first responders to any kind of attack, adn the attackers always die. But the more important issue is that they have a God-centered society, where they value the life of their unborn, they demand that everyone abide by the higher standard of right and wrong, and individuals are held accountable for their actions.

In America we lack that stable focus on God that we used to have – to morality governed by God that defined clear right and wrong issues. There is no accountability among our society, and life is not valued from conception to natural death….we care more for animals and the environment than we do the sanctity of human life. Today, everyone is a victim, everyone is ‘entitled’ and no one can be allowed to be offended by a copy of The Ten Commandments on a wall or a statue of Jesus on a ski slope.

Phil Sammon

David, as I read over your comments to earlier postings under this, I discover that you seem to have a lack of firearms knowledge, and rely on statistics for a large portion of your arguments. So let me toss a couple things your way:

The term ‘semi-auto’ simply describes the action that a firearm has in firing a bullet. Semi-automatic means that every time to squeeze the trigger (or pull in the case of a shotgun) a bullet fires, the empty shell is extracted, and another bullet loads into the chamber ready to fire. You then have to squeeze the trigger again to make the next bullet fire. You identify Uzi’s (Israeli-made firearm) and ARs (America generic term for Assault Rifle) and .223s – a caliber of bullet and not a firearm in and of itself – as if they are evil. The firing action of a Remington Woodsman hunting rifle is the exact same action that you find in an AR – semi-automatic. A lot of rifles and most shotguns that people use to hunt with are all ‘semi-auto’ so your sue of the term is misplaced and inaccurate.

The term you want is military-style – the pistol grip, high-capacity magazine and “evil” black color.

Beyond that, the way in which most firearms function, including pistols like the ones all military and police use – the same ones used in Newtown and carried by some 70 million private Americans – is semi-automatic. It is not evil, it is not any more deadly than any other rifle, pistol or shotgun.

As for statistics, here are a few for you as well, from the CDC and from both state and international databases:

Between 1990 and 1999 87 children were killed in school shootings. In the same 10-year period, some 200 children were killed in swimming pool, bath tub and bucket drownings; more than 100 died from airbags in cars. Yet there are pools all over America, bathtubs in every home and airbags in every car.

In 1998 Pennsylvania passed a “Shall Issue” law for concealed carrying of firearms for personal protection, but they exempted Philadelphia because everyone thought crime would go up as a result. Over the first year of statistics for the state, murders, rapes, assaults and burglaries dropped statewide by as much as 37% – except in {hilly, where the murder, rape and major crime rates went up by as much as 34%. Criminals knew that no one in Philly could be legally armed, so the chances of them dying while committing a crime was greatly reduced. Criminals are not necessarily stupid.

Australia and the UK each adopted some of the most stringent gun control laws in the mid 1990s. In the first year following their increased bans and registrations, Queensland province in Australia saw murders by firearms rise by more than 300%. in England, home invasions went off the charts in the first two years following their stringent laws banning the possession of most firearms in the home, and forcing gun owners to store their firearms in government-approved clubs instead.

Gun laws and restrictions on guns does NOT equal a safer society. Guns do not walk into classrooms or public places by themselves. We MUST address the issue of the adjustable nut behind the trigger – period.

David B. Grinberg

Thanks for your thoughtful and insightful comments, Phil.
I agree that an assault weapons ban and/or gun control generally is NOT the entire solution. However, I believe it should be part of any proposed solution. As I wrote above:
“A comprehensive multi-pronged approach is needed by the public sector and private sector alike to address a broad range of issues related to firearms, including…”
As I stated above, and others have noted, we also need to focus more on people with mental illness and proactively prevent these folks from obtaining and using firearms of any kind. I understand that people in the Northeast and DC-area will never see eye-to-eye on gun issues compared to folks in the other regions of America, like “Big Sky” country and elsewhere.
Thus, I don’t expect to win over any fans of firearms in general, or military assault weapons in particuar.

David B. Grinberg


Thanks again to you and the other GovLoopers who have engaged in this important and contentious debate – which is a healthy byproduct of free speech in the world’s greatest democracy.

While I agree to disagree on many points, I still admire the tenaciousness and conviction of everyone who took aim at gun control and banning military-style assault weapons. Passionate people can argue for and against a range of vantage points and stats ad nauseam. However, you’ve all had your target practice, so to speak, and arguably poked some holes in the gun control arguments (at least in your opinions).

Now that it’s clear what you are against, can you take the flip side and explain what you are for?

Do you favor abolishing all gun control laws, even those already on the books?

(other than restrictions for kids and people who suffer from mental illness, etc.)

Which laws would you keep and which would you abolish?

Is any form of gun control reasonable under the Second Amendment?

Would you and others support a federal mandate that every adult citizen undergo basic or advanced certified gun training — including for concealed weapons — for safety and security purposes?

Should citizens be required to have certified gun training as a condition of receiving their driver’s license or voter ID card, for example, in order to compel such action?

Do you favor the “Stand Your Ground” law being applied nationwide?

Please flesh out what you are for, as you deem appropriate, since it’s clear what you and other pro-gun advocates are against. Thanks for considering this, as well as for adding your valuable perspective to this important national discussion.



Dennis Snyder

1. I’m for rational debate. Given the immediate nature of today’s press and social media access, that will never happen. People are too quick with the keyboard and post before thinking. Someone posted that Rahm Emmanuel liked to take advantage of such heated topics to corner opponents into a position they would not normally support. Same here, an invitation to free-think what we are for is an invitation to step a little outside the schoolyard. That being said……

2. We already have gun regulations, 20,000 of them someone stated. IRS faced similar issues and came up with the 1040EZ form. We have a Paperwork Reduction Act which requires government to ease the burden on taxpayers who are not paid to fill out forms. An invitation to simplify gun regulations is an open invitation to light up the keyboards and get a product worse than what we have now. However, they do need to be simplified.

3. Where are we with mental health and gun purchases? Will Obamacare make such diagnosis and care more available? Or will the true beneficiaries of that legislation, the insurance companies, cry HIPAA and not release the records to a gun seller? Mental health diagnosis is a protected category. This will need to be deconflicted.

4. Definitions. Bill Clinton’s famous defense rested on 2 definitions: “is” and the exact locations of erogenous zones. What is a “military-style” gun? Sarah Brady says its one with 2000 fps velocity. She’s a national spokeman and has absolutely no clue. Someone made a statement about “scary black stocks”, my Savage 30-06 has a black plastic stock that won’t get scratched (most guns have fine wood stocks that rival the best furniture). My .45 long-colt revolver is single-action and needs to be manually cocked for each round and yet is about the scariest pistol I’ve ever seen. It is definitely not an assault weapon, but I think you only need to fire it once anyway. Assault weapons, weapons of mass-destruction, military-style weapons, magazine capacity, rapid or full automatic fire, these terms are peppered throughout the blog in conflicting and frequently out of context references. Baseline the discussion so everyone can debate intelligently. Good luck.

5. Licensing and training. Illinois requires a firearm owners ID but there is no proficiency or safety requirement. I’m not sure if any states have proficiency or safety requirements for purchases, although I understand a few have such requirements for hunters. The distinction here is between purchasing and intended use. Intended use and actual use can differ as we saw in Newtown, so a license would not have been an effective tool to manage the outcome because his mother lawfully purchased the guns and reportedly was fanatical about safety and practice.

6. Secure storage. My safe is hidden in a closet and bolted through the floor to the basement using hardened bolts. Nobody knows where it is except my wife and she doesn’t have the combination. The safe is stronger and more fire-proof than what I have for important papers. There are many ways to secure a gun that apartment-dwellers can use since my solution is unworkable for them. Legislating safe storage and proving its security are vastly different, and providing proof of storage like a photo can easily be done (just like a birth certificate).

7. States rights. The second amendment was created especially for citizens to protect themselves from rogue government. Another term needing definition, since my belief that health insurance requirements under penalty of law is quite rogue in itself. Watch the marijuana debates to see where this plays out for guns. Gay rights is federally mandated and yet lacks national support for marriages, yet gay unmarried couples get married benefits while heterosexual couples do not – even though they share the same household expense issues. In general I think federal government is unable to deal effectively with local issues as we saw with FEMA during Katrina, yet we seem to continue the course of national debate with local pork for influence peddling. I think a national policy or ban is insane. If we have federal, state and local governments and the fed wants to do all the work, why have states and cities at all? Yes, I’m aware of how stupid that sounds. Even different agencies have different standards on like issues: SSA defines early retirement at 62 and regular at 66, while FAA requires airline pilots to retire at 60 without exception, so a pilot who is forced to retire can’t get the regular benefit he worked for. You’ll see that issue here on types of guns to be regulated, who should be regulated, differences between states, etc.

8. Purchasing. Not everyone buys a gun for a self-defense purpose, I didn’t. In fact I inherited my father’s collection when he died, and bought the safe because I didn’t know what to do with them. I later discovered I like target shooting. Then I discovered I like reloading for the math and added accuracy, plus greatly reduced costs. My father also liked target shooting and had not hunted since he was 15. The waiting period interfered with very real self-defense issues during the LA riots as noted here. As a country and as federal employees we are supposed to embrace diversity, yet inexplicably all gun owners and their purchases are lumped together into a single boiling pot regardless of your particular motivations. Everyone is punished for the actions of a few who couldn’t be bothered with the laws anyway, so nothing is solved with further restrictions.

I’m sure I can come up with more, but I will defer to my reading public and let it rest awhile.

Phil Sammon

David, we do NOT have a gun problem or culture in America. We have a culture that does not value life; we have a society that does not reinforce responsibility, or reward good behavior because everyone has to be the same; we have a disposable, immoral society that started down this road in 1964 when prayer and God were taken out of schools, then the public, then families and hearts, likely in that order.

I agree that not everyone should be a gun owner. But unlike driving, Constitutional Rights cannot be taken away, or legislated away, so easily. I also like most of what Dennis Snyder commented below. I think I know Dennis, actually. Dennis, in a post earlier on this thread you said we have a ban on automatic weapons – we do not. In the US you can legally buy and keep a fully-automatic machine gun with the proper permits from BATFE. My father-in-law had 4, perfectly legal and a lot of fun to shoot, albeit expensive. The two guys who shot up the bank in LA a few years ago used full-auto AK47s, and had them legally. It was the first and only time a full-auto firearm had been used in the commission of such a major crime.

The Second Amendment is not about hunting – it is about the defense of the State against the federal government and against anarchy that would seek to overthrow the governing of the state. It is not about hunting, and it is not about what type of firearm people can “keep and bear.”

In our country, we are all innocent until proven guilty. What almost all gun control laws do is take the position of assumed guilt, through which you much prove your innocence in order to exercise a Constitutional Right. These laws almost always restrict the exercise by law-abiding citizens, while doing nothing to prevent crimes or murders. Before we instill more gun control laws, we should:

1.Change the moral climate of our society to give value back to human life, and hold criminals totally accountable for their actions, unlike the way we do things now where everyone is a victim and needs a break after they commit horrible crimes. In America you get 20 years for embezzling, and you get 7 for murder….some 14,000 die each year from firearms-related actions, more than 1.4 million unborn human babies are aborted every year here….what’s wrong with that picture??

2. Have a national language, to eliminate communication, safety and health issues in America;

3. Require drivers to pass safety courses for driving in city traffic, in adverse weather conditions, etc., to eliminate more deaths from poor driving – which kills more people than firearm deaths each year.

4. Require everyone who votes to show a state-issued picture ID – all this crap about alienating minorities is civil rights nonsense. They get a photo ID to cash checks, buy liquor and drive, I bet;

5. Teach firearm safety in schools. They used to have competition shooting teams in a lot of public schools, and they offer and require hunter education for anyone under 18 in most states before you can get a hunting license. We teach and require driver’s education – why not firearm safety, rape prevention and how to use fire extinguishers in the home?

6. Find a way to provide better mental health screening and, more importantly, funding for treatment, for those who need it. The Aurora mall shooter and the Newtown shooter had apparent and untreated mental health issues. But in the case of the Newtown shooter, he was denied – denied – the purchase of a rifle a week before this shooting, so the system worked. How do you prevent every criminal fro every getting a forearm by illegal means?

7. Make the penalties for committing crimes with a gun among the highest there are – you get 20 years for smuggling drugs, why not a mandatory sentence of 10 years (instead of 5 like it is now) for crimes committed using a firearm? And double it if someone is killed during the commission of that crime, to the death penalty, and then enforce it sooner rather than later.

8. Make prisons a place people do NOT want to go back to – ever. Remove the legal libraries, gyms, cable TV and some of the other luxuries, and put inmates to work like the old Civilian Conservation Corps folks, rebuilding America’s failing infrastructure of roads and bridges. No work, no eat. Pretty simple.

As for gun legislation, there is no reason to ban the ownership of military-style weapons. Why? They are used in a very few highly-publicized cases each decade, as compared to the hundreds of thousands of gun-related. The Second Amendment was designed to provide for the defense of the State – to support the State’s militia, or military. What better way to equip the militia – like our Founding Fathers when they were the Militia – than with military-style firearms? And I agree with Dennis – ‘black’ and ‘pistol grip’ are the best definitions that anti-gunners can come up with? All but one of my hunting rifles is black, two have pistol grips (better shooting position and accuracy) and all are high-caliber rounds in excess of 2200fps…none are “military style” but are just as deadly in the right hands.

David B. Grinberg

As you may have heard…

Wall Street Journal reports: Biden Launches Efforts to Reduce Gun Violence

According to the WSJ: “Vice President Joe Biden kick-started Thursday the administration’s efforts to find ways to reduce gun violence in the aftermath of the shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut, huddling with law enforcement officials who have long pushed for banning powerful, military-style weapons. Mr. Biden said he sees “no reason” why an assault-weapons ban can’t pass Congress.The vice president is leading the White House’s efforts to find ways to prevent mass shootings through potential changes to the nation’s mental health and weapon laws.” (bold added for emphasis)

David Dean

Let us begin with Sarah Brady. The gun control mob provides her a very generous salary. She and the other gun control mob have a vested interest. They are paid employees. My cat (spoiled little imp) has more knowledge of small arms than Sarah and her mob. They are paid employees. If people do not contribute they do not get paid. Of course the receive tax money as well. They use BS to get paid.

Guns in general. A military assault rifle is capable of firing one shot one trigger pull (semi-automatic), a burst of three rounds with one trigger pull, and fully automatic, AK-47 for instance. The use of an AK-47 in a crime in this country has been very accurately discussed by another poster. The rifles that are intentionally mis-identified as “assault rifle” are semi-automatic, i.e., one trigger pull one shot. I saw a blip showing a Bushmaster .223 with the caption of 500 to 600 rounds a minute. Impossible. Pull a trigger 500 to 600 times a minute and I will join your movement. I want to see you do it anyway. Some people do own fully automatic weapons. Owner ship requires a special federal permit (1935-to present), and county and state permits. Many of these are real Thompson Sub-machine Guns, normally the 1923, 124, and 1927 models. I would love to own one of these. Trouble is I do not have $30,000.00 to $50,000.00 lying around.

Bullet feet per second (fps). The slowest a .45 caliber ACP round, with 230 grains will arrive at approximately 850 fps, a .40 and a 9MM (.355 caliber) arrive at approximately 1100 fps. A .223 caliber (actually .22 caliber with a lot of powder) or other hot round will arrive in a range of 2300 fps to 3000 fps. What does the speed of the bullet have to do with it, one caliber moves at 850 fps, and another caliber covers approximately the same distance at one third of a second.

You keep referring to a “military assault rifle” you have no idea what you are talking about. You have mentioned your right of the First Amendment to use freely. You do not advocate having restrictions, or having to get a permit. That horrifies you. To follow your line of reasoning why should anyone else have to be licensed to exercise a constitutional right? Your line of reasoning if taken to the logical and probable conclusion an individual would have to have a permit to protect themselves under the Fifth Amendment right to not self incriminate, or to exercise the due process clause. An individual would have to have a permit to protect themselves against unlawful search, seizure, and arrest under the Fourth Amendment. What about have to have a permit to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment.

Your position is not well thought out and is deeply flawed. You advocate the use of certain constitutional rights without any control. I have the same right.

Dennis Snyder

I wonder if anyone here is with Fish and Wildlife Service, or any of the state DNRs that could weigh in on the government position on hunting as a sport, and how Biden’s focus could affect their policies and procedures. That’s probably asking a bit much given all the press, but it would be interesting to consider how agencies cooperate and strategize from opposite ends of such a heated issue and actually bypass emotional disinformation and demands like Clator’s. From a GovLoop perspective the public input to the debate and any policies formulated would be challenging. Consider that some of the input might come from illegal aliens or minors without voting rights, or even citizens with social media access from other countries. Would a national referendum solve that problem? Or national PKI? Would such a referendum likely introduce other problems in over-simplification?

I particularly like David Dean’s comment that this would be the only constitutional amendment potentially under consideration for licensing to exercise the right. What precedence exists? Would it result in such a fundamental change in consitutional law that other rights would be infringed as well via unintended consequences?

And speaking of consequences, I like the idea of making perps fully accountable for their actions by returning prisons to what they are supposed to be, and making the punishment commensurate with the crime, and not holding the public at large as hostages via taxes for keeping such scum in death row for such lengthy times. Who are we punishing anyway?

Tom Sullivan

To understand what I am for, all you really need to know is that I am at heart a voluntaryist (http://www.voluntaryist.com/fundamentals/introduction.html). I also believe that even though there are infinite shades of grey in our world, when it comes to rights and the nature of rights, things are as black and white as they can possibly be. You can call them God-given rights, birth rights, or natural rights, but the reality is the same. Our rights stem from the fact we are human. They are not the product or purview of the Constitution or the government (as they predate both) and are therefore outside the power of either the Constitution or the government to control or infringe. This is the perspective I speak from on all issues but is particularly relevant when it comes to this one. (For a deeper and more nuanced examination of this relationship, I highly recommend Jeffrey Snyder’s book “A Nation of Cowards,” http://www.amazon.com/Nation-Cowards-Essays-Ethics-Control/dp/1888118083 – a reprint of the speech upon which the book is based is here: http://www.rkba.org/comment/cowards.html)

My belief, almost by definition shuns statistics in debates primarily due to their utilitarian nature. If “A” stat is better than “B” stat, then “A” is the right choice. So if fewer lives will be lost thru implementation of “gun control” than can be saved thru “gun liberalization,” utilitarianism demands option control. This utilitarian argument also demands sacrifice though. Those that lose lives under the control option have no choice because they basically fall within a minority. Some call this democracy; I call it mob rule and a form of slavery.

Part and parcel with my voluntaryist views is the principle that freedom/liberty and responsibility are inseparable; you can’t have one without the other. You can not be held responsible for something you do not have the freedom to control; likewise if you have the freedom to do something you also have to take responsibility for the results (good or bad). These are indivisible functions which speak to drugs, prostitution, economics, business, and of course guns…among many other things. If I have a right to my life, then I have to have the requisite ability (responsibility) to protect and further that life in whatever way best suites me free of coercion or force.

So, what specifically do I believe/support? Well, as Henry David Thoreau put it: “…this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of its way.”

– ANY governmental infringement upon a person’s ability to purchase, store, or lawfully use a firearm is out. No licensure, registrations, waiting periods or mandatory anything.

– Justice is, almost by definition an after-the-fact function. Let’s start treating it that way. Your right to swing your fist stops at my face; but until such contact takes place there is nothing I can rightfully, ethically, or morally do.

– Should that contact take place the proper place for resolution/restitution are the courts. That’s justice and it properly holds the perpetrator responsible for his/her action(s). My next of kin hold the right to seek this resolution/restitution should I not survive such an act. Should the perpetrator kill him/herself there may be family/friends that helped or otherwise have liability, but if not, as cold as it sounds, that’s what I call life. No one ever promised me life would be free of risk, insult, injury, or death…deal with it.

– Organizations such as the NRA (for whom I hold no love except for their Eddie Eagle™ and other safety programs…their ILA is a joke that would be funny if not so powerful) could and should institute requirements for membership that involve the aforementioned licensure and mandatory training. Take the lead and prove they have the safety of people foremost in their minds by requiring training and even insurance.

– Speaking of insurance – insurance companies can and should (as long as these efforts are not backed by the threat of government sanction) require certain levels of coverage for those that own firearms. Discounts would be available based on memberships to organizations such as the NRA (as envisioned here), levels of training, storage, etc., just as they adjust rates based on what a person drives. Don’t admit to owning a firearm, no payout for you…

These last two points are fully consistent with my voluntaryist views because they are based on freedom of association. I don’t have to join the NRA or admit to my insurance company that I own firearms; but those choices would have costs that I would be responsible for bearing. Whereas when the government requires a license, training, or ID, I’m not only stuck with no options but could face fines and jail time for the “crime” of not dotting those i’s.

Hope this sheds some more light on my “…tenaciousness and conviction.” Thanks for the opportunity David.

David B. Grinberg

Thanks very much, Tom, for sharing your interesting and enlightening views. The statement that really caught my attention is:

“Our rights stem from the fact we are human. They are not the product or purview of the Constitution or the government (as they predate both) and are therefore outside the power of either the Constitution or the government to control or infringe.”

That’s certainly a profoundly unique perspective and something for everyone to ponder. Thanks again for your valuable contributions to this discussion.


Dennis Snyder

As you may have heard by now, the White Plains NJ Journal-News printed the name and address of gun owners last week. In an enterprising and entertaining response a gun owner printed name, address, phone, family pictures, email and twitter addresses, facebook pages, etc. of the newspaper staff at http://christopherfountain.wordpress.com/2012/12/24/sauce-for-the-goose/

From a GovLoop perspective I see the use of public data and exploitation of issues by an organization to advance personal political agendas has come full circle. Those who intend to take a public issue to the mat must consider they may be taken down themselves using the tools we espouse. Stated another way, the gun control crowd that states its opinion so publicly and loudly also advertises that it is probably defenseless. Since the NRA has identified areas of weakness that deserve better protection from an on-site armed officer because they are gun-free zones, so too should gun-control proponents consider they make themselves targets. The availability of public data as shown by the link above should cause alarm as it is clearly more dangerous than the guns because it allows anyone to target anyone from anywhere at any time and use any means.

David B. Grinberg

Washington Post investigation:

Data indicate drop in high-capacity magazines during federal gun ban

“During the 10-year federal ban on assault weapons, the percentage of firearms equipped with high-capacity magazines seized by police agencies in Virginia dropped, only to rise sharply once the restrictions were lifted in 2004, according to an analysis by The Washington Post. The White House is leading a push to reinstate a national ban on large capacity magazines and assault weapons after a gunman armed with an AR-15 and 30-round magazines killed 20 children and seven adults in Connecticut. Vice President Biden is holding advisory meetings this week to hammer out a course of action that will address the issue of the larger magazines, which under the lapsed federal ban were those that held 11 or more rounds of ammunition.”