As a result of various forum discussions on the Sandy Hook massacre, I received this, from a retired California law enforcement officer.
Military-style semi-automatic firearms (so-called assault weapons) do not differ materially from non-military style semi-automatic firearms (one bullet is fired for each pull of the trigger) and are no more powerful than other semi-automatic weapons.
Further, a bullet fired from a semi-automatic weapon is no more powerful than one of the same caliber fired from a corresponding non-semi-automatic handgun, rifle, or shotgun. In fact most assault weapons are less powerful than hunting rifles.
For example, the AR-15 (a semi-automatic version of the U.S. military’s rifle, M-16), is a .223 caliber rifle. Rifles of this caliber, when used for hunting, are generally used on small game rather than deer. A smaller caliber bullet is more likely to wound the animal (and allow it to escape and suffer a slow death) than the more powerful .24 to .30 caliber bullets normally used in deer hunting rifles (see this hunting rifle ammunition chart).
Assault weapons are not the weapons of choice among drug dealers, gang members or criminals in general. Assault weapons are used in about one-fifth of one percent (.20%) of all violent crimes and about one percent in gun crimes. It is estimated that from one to seven percent of all homicides are committed with assault weapons (rifles of any type are involved in three to four percent of all homicides).
However a higher percentage are used in police homicides, roughly ten percent. (There has been no consistent trend in this rate from 1978 through 1996.)
Between 1992 and 1996 less than 4% of mass murders, committed with guns, involved assault weapons. (Our deadliest mass murders have either involved arson or bombs.) There are close to 4 million assault weapons in the U.S., which amounts to roughly 1.7% of the total gun stock.
If assault weapons are so rarely used in crime, why all the hoopla when certain military-style-semi-automatic weapons were banned by the Crime Control Act of 1994? A Washington Post editorial (September 15, 1994) summed it up best:
No one should have any illusions about what was accomplished (by the ban). Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control.
In 26 years of law enforcement, including being on our warrant service team which conducted more than 300 high risk warrants in Oakland and Richmond alone, our team recovered no assault weapons, none. I never recovered one during patrol, but recovered hundreds on Nun-Chuks, knives, clubs, baseball bats, other edged weapons and a few hand guns (and one sawed off shotgun). In the two attempts on my life while in law enforcement, one was a hand gun, one was an attempt to run me over.
more effective ways to regulate guns in the US and I can think of many off of the top of my head but they MUST be a part of a greater movement to reduce violence in this country.
We are one of the leaders in the world in gun related crime but we lead the world in road rage incidents. That should tell you something on its’ face.
Those who think more gun restriction will make us and our children safe are what I consider callow and naive. There is no magic pill to solving our American malaise but we need to start a dialogue about fixing it as soon as possible. Yelling “Ban guns”, sets us farther from that goal. Demonizing gun owners only makes them less willing to compromise.
I should add that I am not an NRA member, nor a supporter. A total ban on guns in this country would lead to a windfall benefit to organized crime. You think prohibition was bad? ROC alone would make a fortune in a country where an estimated 80 to 120 million people own guns. Ammo bans? Even easier to smuggle ammunition.
California bans assault weapons; only pre-ban guns can to be registered. (if you owned them prior to the ban)
The Oklahoma City and the World Trade Center attacks boasted NO firearms. They are the two worst mass murder incidents in our history.
I’m not trying to change anyones’ opinion. I hope it only leads to more sober thought. And again, no assault weapons were used in this recent tragedy, A German and an Austrian pistol were used.
Thanks for reading this.