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    Should assault weapons be banned?

    challenge posed by Kate Freeman 13 days 22 hours 18 minutes ago

    Category: Politics
    Challenge Forum

    Should assault weapons be banned?

    Mass shootings are unfortunately an increasingly common occurrence in the U.S. According to one study in Scientific American, the US had nearly double the number of mass shootings than all other industrialized countries combined (24 in total) in the same 30-year period. Every time there’s a mass shooting, an online debate rages over whether banning assault weapons would decrease these deadly tragedies. Proponents of assault weapons cite the second amendment which allows all Americans to bear arms. In addition, people who own assault weapons often say they keep their weapons locked up and safe, therefore not all gun owners should be punished for the actions of a few. There are various ideas for how we as Americans can stop gun violence—from banning guns entirely, to limiting them to law enforcement and hunters only, to making it more difficult to get a gun. Legislation has been proposed in recent time to toughen gun laws. However, one of the complications is that the definition of what constitutes an “assault rifle” is a contentious topic. What is your stance on this issue and why. Explain your opinion in the comments.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hi Kate,

    Absolutely they should be banned. The right to bear arms referenced in the Constitution was referring to hand guns and hunting rifles. Assault rifles were not even invented yet. The world back 50 years ago did not include mass shootings. A handgun and a hunting rifle in the wrong hands will kill just a few people before they have to be reloaded, nowhere near 20-50 or so that we are seeing in the past 30 years since Columbine. I am not discounting the impact of a few killed people, just stating that the number is much less. The only reason for someone to want to own an assault rifle is to kill a massive amount of people. Save that for a war if necessary. A handgun or a hunting rifle is sufficient for self-defense.

    Our culture should bear much of the blame. We don't exercise enough, there is no outlet for our energy and frustrations. The social media that makes instant celebrity of anyone for anything, the news that reports sensationalism to sell more give those killers the fame they are seeking. Our government that doesn't do what needs to be done to stop the nonsense. The "great divide" of politics and poverty. The rage at injustices and bullying in our schools and in our world. There are probably a lot more contributing factors that I haven't even thought of.

    So, get a good definition of "assault rifle", then ban them for non-soldiers. Keep the "right to bear arms" and apply it to handguns and hunting rifles. Put stringent background checks into place for those who wish to own them. Anyway, that's my two cents worth...

    Thanks for the forum,

    Kasey

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hello Kate,

    I live in Arizona where gun laws are friendly to assault weapons and gun ownership. It’s very easy to go to a gun store here and pick up an AR-15 after a background check that’s short enough for you to wait at the counter.

    A few weeks ago I had the chance to spend some time with my father-in-law and fire his AR-15 at the shooting range, aka, a hillside in the desert. It’s a powerful weapon and can basically go full-auto if you let the trigger bounce against your finger. Regardless, I can shoot an entire magazine in less than 30 seconds. The shooting goes quick and gets costly fast.

    I’ve shot handguns, WW2 rifles, shotguns, and other assault rifles, like the AK-47. I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that there is no utilitarian or defense need that justifies a civilian to own an assault rifle. There’s just no point. Unless, like some doomsdayers would have you believe, an invasion or coup is going to happen, people don’t need assault weapons.

    A much better option for home defense is a shotgun or handgun. Assault rifles, if used for defense, would destroy your house. You would cheese grater your attacker and then punch a thousand homes through your living room walls and furniture. The way these things work is designed to kill in combat! Not defend your property.

    I’m going to make a bold claim, and I think it has some truth to it because I agree with it in many ways. A portion of this country doesn’t want an assault rifle ban because assault rifles are fun to shoot. Yes! As a responsible gun owner, they are super fun to shoot with. Other than that, they’re just enabling mass shootings to happen.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    I believed it sure be difficult or illegal to buy guns and rifles the less of them on the streets will be better for this world. Violence has increase too much and mass shootings any where especially schools . How can parents feel safe sending their children to schools in the USA with this problem .

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hi Kate,

    No. So first off, the founders (the same people who wrote the 2nd Amendment) justified the use of cannons for personal defense. Last I checked, cannons are more powerful than an AR-15. Secondly, the 2nd Amendment guarantees citizens the right to keep and bear arms, uninfringed. This makes it a right which can't be violated constitutionally. To violate it is to allow the option to violate the other Amendments, and I'm sure we can all agree that's a bad idea. Thirdly, banning guns would only take guns out of the hands of citizens. Criminals would still get firearms even if they were illegal. In case you don't believe me, let me point you to illegal drugs. Nobody has those right? Oh, wait. Fourth, we already have mandated background checks in place. They are standard and really can't get any more thorough without violating the privacy of everyone who lives near you. Fifth, assault rifle is just a blanket term for "scary looking gun". There are guns that are more powerful and faster than an AR, but they don't look as menacing so people are fine with them. Sixth, the majority of homicides in the US are committed with a handgun, not with an AR or AR-type gun. An AR ban would essentially just piss people off who want to shoot off an AR legally. They are fun to shoot and the vast majority of owners are responsible. More people are killed in vehicles every year than by firearms, but we don't see any call to ban private ownership of vehicles.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hello Kate,

    The easy answer is all guns should go, but much of gin control in the past has been created to specifically target people of color and those in poor or working class communities. I think assault rifles being banned is definitely a yes, but a ban of all firearms for civilians while law enforcement are allowed them doesn't sit well with me.

    That being said, I really think issues of white supremacy and toxic masculinity (which have caused shootings in the past) need to also be adressed.

    Thank you for the topic,

    - Anna

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Kate,

    Prior to writing this, I started off doing some research into assault weapons. I do have a strong opinion about guns in general. I have heard the term assault weapon often, but don't know that much about the differences.

    I started by looking at what an assault weapon is and how it differs from a regular gun. Assault weapons are semi-automatic firearms. They have large detachable magazines of ammunition. According to the US Department of State, they were designed for combat use due to their capability of rapid fire.

    I was also curious about how many shootings involve semi-automatic weapons compared to non-semiautomatic guns. It turns out that semi-automatic firearms were used in most mass shootings in the United States. An exception being the Santa Fe High School shooting that killed 10 and injured 14. This involved merely a shotgun and revolver.

    The problem doesn't stop at just semi-automatic guns. While banning semi-automatic gun could help cut down the numbers of those killed and injured in mass murders, most murders in the US don't happen with assault-style weapons. Handguns, costing approximately $200, are more accessible than assault rifles which cost approximately $1500.

    After doing this research, I do believe semi-automatic guns should be banned. I also still believe that we need stricter regulation. I would love to see our country follow in the footsteps of Canada. According to Vice Magazine, in Canada, you are allowed to buy a gun if you are 18 or older, but you are required to "take a two-day safety course for non-restricted guns, pass a test, and then take another course and test for restricted guns. They must pass with a grade of 80 percent or more. After passing the test, Canadians can apply for a Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL) for restricted firearms. An application requires a photo, references, the disclosure of mental health history, criminal history, and current/prior conjugal partners." It is not a perfect solution. It will not end all shootings, but it will significantly cut down on the number of deaths caused by guns, in the United States.


    References
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Assault_weapon
    https://www.vice.com/en_ca/article/ne5e4k/how-strict-are-canadas-handgun-laws
    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-41488081
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_sho

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Kate,

    The term assault weapon is a thorn in the side of gun enthusiasts who argue that the differences between assault weapons and other semi-automatics are cosmetic and don't increase the gun's lethality. But, tell this to anyone who has experienced a mass shooting. The issue is because these guns are considered ordinary rifles, it is hard for legislators to regulate them without banning half the handguns in this country including those that are semiautomatic and/or have detachable magazines and many hunting rifles as well. Tighter screening and mandatory reporting for mental health problems also is on the forefront of topics for gun reform change but that has its own drawbacks. Mental health professionals think it will deter people from seeking help and will stigmatize the mentally ill. It also it denies them their Second Amendment rights. The goal is to get them help they need, but at what cost should they be able to exercise their right to bear arms?

    Assault rifles should be banned. Other guns are mostly acceptable. I do think there needs to be gun reform. The private sales of guns needs to be regulated better and those private sellers/buyers should be held to background checks. Universal background checks that would require gun owners to run private sales through government databases have also been discussed, but there's no real way to enforce them. To complicate matters is the expense of the government's record keeping of that database.

    On one side, guns represent violence, and a perspective to protect oneself from external threats. On the other side, guns represent safety, security, and self-sufficiency. There is some common ground however and that is nearly everyone is for safety and against senseless death. The desire for safety is basic and universal. The disagreement is over whether guns actually make one safer. The gun control argument is about fears. Some are afraid of being shot while others are afraid of losing control over their lives in a more comprehensive sense. That latter fear is deeper and winning. The war on guns will continue to be a battle with no solution.

    There are many CCW holders and responsible gun owners. Criminals won't follow the rules regardless. I think American citizens should have right to protect themselves against someone breaking into their homes and if a CCW license holder, should be able to protect them self while in public.

    America simply isn't doing enough to stop mass shootings!


    Jon

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hi Kate,

    I've become numb to reports of mass shootings, sadly. It's just become a weekly thing now. One alarming thing that has come up time and time again is the lack of proper, thorough background checks. If someone wants to own a gun, there need to be strict laws in place and updated information on the person available. Also, claims against the person should be looked into and confirmed. Personally, I'm not a supporter of gun ownership. However, I understand the viewpoint of having it for protection and do not believe that every gun owner is a bad person.

    So yes, ban assault weapons. Why does the average person need it? Ban assault weapons and create stricter gun laws overall. It won't stop all criminals, but hopefully it will discourage a good amount of them.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hey Kate!

    I actually wrote a forum about that a little while ago. I think assault weapons should be banned because there are to many school shootings going on and I ca't help but wonder if my high school will be next. We don't know what people are capable anymore. My dad keeps a gun in the house because our neighborhood is popular for crime. It might be for safety reasons but I am not comfortable around any type of fire arms.

    Brittani

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    I don't see any reason why a civilian would need an assault rifle so I would support an outright ban, however it is not my primary focus with regards to gun reform.

    I believe it needs to be more difficult for individuals to get a gun. Comprehensive background checks should include a psychological evaluation as well as a screening for domestic violence charges. The latter in particular is essential because the majority of mass shootings involved men with a history of domestic violence charges and/or men who advocate extremist views (i.e. "incels").

    I also believe that persons deemed at risk of committing gun violence should not reside in a home with guns, similar to criteria for sex offenders or felons. As with Sandy Hook, even "responsible gun owners" can have their weapons accessed by someone who is not capable of handling the responsibility of a weapon for various reasons.

    And there should be a waiting period. It doesn't have to be excessive but I think a turnaround within a month few a new permit is reasonable. If you procrastinated getting your permit before a hunting trip and now may not get approval in time, that's poor time management. Better all of us have to manage our time and expectations than permits get rushed, guns get into the wrong hands because the application isn't properly flagged, and another mass shooting occurs. It's worth the wait to save lives.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    I don’t know anything about guns but I believe if we covered them less in mainstream media it would slow it down. Think of it this way. Kids watch the news and have been trying to figure something out something drastic for attention or hate these kids and wanna do something. They see that a kid shot up the school and it worked. Now I know guns are an issue and something needs to be done, but I live in a community where most the kids own a gun for hunting and my school has never had a school shooting and it surprises me honestly. But we also have our own issues like a huge drug epidemic in a small school of 800 students. We have a bunch of kids caught with contra band like drugs and alcohol but never had a shooting. But I also live in Minnesota if that means anything.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hello!!

    I'm not very educated on the ins and outs of gun laws, but I do not believe guns should be banned for this key reason: Self defense to protect yourself and your family. There are so many violent crimes against women today, and it's disgusting. I for one, do not want my right to protect myself and/or my family to be taken away from me. If there is an evil person wishing to do me harm, I want to have a weapon to protect myself. Also, banning guns isn't going to keep criminals from getting their hands on them anyway.

    Great topic!!

    —SwiftCheetah

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    From a practical point of view, most people who don't own guns seem to get behind the rationale that assaults weapons are intended for combat only, while supporters of more conservative gun protections can take the stance of absolutely no additional restrictions. To really understand the situation we need to consider 3 questions (posting each separately):

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    A) What is the real scope of the problem?
    Like a lot of you have mentioned, the frequency of mass shootings and reporting of the events have made a strong impression on a lot of people, so defenders or supporters of gun laws often react on a gut-level. To generalize, many of those who want stricter laws are affected by the emotional logic of 'I don't want people to be killed by guns' and those who want to maintain the status quo are driven by the logic of 'I don't want to lose any rights.' Nearly everyone supports both of these emotional arguments, but the implications related to guns specifically becomes tricky when trying to influence the situation with legislation.
    Most major news networks have made a conscious effort to reduce coverage of these events to reduce copycat crimes, so even though a major story every few weeks or months seems high, there are even more than we might hear about: 346 events in 2017 categorized as Mass Shootings, and this year it's already more than 320. If each one was covered nationally, we'd hear a different story very close to daily.
    On the one hand, when the US is quoted as the No. 1 country in the world for gun violence, this ignores the size of our country. The US has the 3rd largest global population at more than 300 Million. For comparison, Norway, a country geographically smaller than California alone, has a population of just over 5 million. So even if the incidents per person were identical, the US will always end up with a massively larger number of total violent incidents (California’s population is close to 40 million, then account for the other 49 states).
    According to the Crime Prevention Research Center, Norway actually has the most mass shooting deaths per person at about 1.8/million people (between 2009-2015). Serbia, France, and Macedonia are next with the US as the 11th highest 0.089/million. Any mass shooting is 1 too many, but it’s important to consider the reality of how much it is happening compared to the alternatives (the other 10 countries that have higher rates have widely differing legal approaches to gun control).

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    B) What are the factors causing the problem?
    This is complex. Of course the availability of weapons in our country is a huge component, but emotional frustrations, social isolation, portrayal in media and news, mental health, distorted perception of reality, and other factors contribute to general impulse for violence in some form (whether it’s with guns or some other method). This probably needs the most discussion, because until we clearly identifying Why this is happening, any law or change will by guesswork (e.g maybe if there’s less guns sold, there will be less guns used?). Finally (next post):

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    C) What should actually be done on a legal or societal level?
    That’s the hard part (because A and B above need more discussion)- let’s look at one idea as an example. One legal approach could be to limit the availability of specific types of weapons, as some of you have supported with the logic that they are practical for deadly force only. While that’s true, legally the categories are not so simple, since the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 defines “Assault Weapons” as "semi-automatic firearms that share too many cosmetic features with their fully automatic counterparts,” and individual states have other definitions. Therefore, the line between an AR-15 or a standard Shotgun (both semi-automatic, firing 1 round per trigger) can become ambiguous, and it comes to legal interpretation whether specific gun models can or cannot be owned. Since the US laws are largely based on precedent, the potential to expand restrictions categorically does exist, and the concern for some people is that these definitions could eventually apply to basic hunting weapons or other guns, with the extreme end fearing an eventual police state where the 2nd Amendment is undone (the reality of this is a different discussion).
    So ultimately, the topic needs Way more research, and until we fully know what is happening, and most importantly, Why, then there will be endless semantic debate about the laws, because a categorical definition doesn’t always tie back to the root cause.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hey Hey!

    Lets look at this 2nd amendment thing, shall we?

    "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."

    I love how the 2nd amendment people always mention the 'keep and bear arms" part, but they never seem to counterbalance that with what the amendment begins with in "A well regulated militia". So, what does militia mean?

    Militia: a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency.

    Interesting. So the argument that "we need guns in case the government comes after us" is also not supported by the 2nd amendment because a militia is meant to SUPPLEMENT a regular army, not combat one. And, the "no gun regulations at all" argument is not supported by the 2nd amendment either, because it says the point of the right to bear arms is to be able to support a depleted army as a "well-regulated" militia. Why does that matter? Because it shows the founders were not just saying "everyone should have a gun and do whatever they want with it". They were saying citizens should be able to own and posses firearms in case they need to help out the army in times of crisis. But wait, if they are meant to help out the army, then shouldn't they be allowed to carry the same weapons as the army? Aka, assault rifles and things like that? Hmmm. Well, lets not forget the well-regulated militia part of the 2nd amendment here. The army TRAINS people to use these weapons and TRAINS them constantly to use them properly, safely, and with a lot of knowledge about the weapon they are using. So, if I (the United States government) allow the sale of equivalent weapons to the general public with NO TRAINING REQUIRED, and NO REGULATIONS OR STANDARDS on the people buying these weapons to be accountable for them, their use of them, and the weapons LOCATIONS, then I seem to be violating the 2nd amendment. I do not know the solution to the mass shootings problem. I don't think banning the weapons would even stop it frankly (and sadly) but don't use the 2nd amendment as a blanket that justifies irresponsible gun laws and a lack of regulation that was not even intended with the freaking amendment in the first place. Rant done.

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Hey Kate!

    They should definitely be banned. That's way too much power for a person to have. It's understandable when security forces like the police have weapons, since they're risking their lives to protect us, but, even with them, sometimes things go awry and there are casualties. Imagine the damage an average citizen with a gun can do. Oh wait. You don't need to imagine it, because it already happened before. And it's not like they differentiate over who can obtain a gun or a weapon and who can't. A person go and legally obtain a weapon without anybody having the slightest idea that this person is a deranged psychopath. I understand why some people want to protect themselves, but the cost and the potential consequences of owning an assault weapon greatly outweigh the positives. Banning assault weapons seems like the proper and safer thing to do.

    -Raneem

    Re: Should assault weapons be banned?

    Plenty of other people here have made the points I ascribe to, such as that the second amendment was for militias (and if you read the histories closer, southern militias to put down continuous slave uprisings and maintain power, it was added to help the south stay interested in being part of the country) and that our background checks are hilariously lax. Even if I can legally own let's say...any gun I want to, should I be able to have a .50 cal machine gun if I have dementia? We don't let people drive with dementia, why should they get a heavy duty machine gun? Because it's the law? The law isn't always right, and it's often how we justify things that are objectively crazy or bad.

    Let's even just simplify the whole thing down to a "where is the line" argument. I have the right to bear arms, sure ok let's say I do and I totally agree with that. If I acquire a howitzer can I use that? If I go mad scientist and develop my own nuclear bomb should I get to keep it for home defense? Of course not, that's stupid. It is entirely too likely that the weapon would only hurt me or those around me. So what about assault rifles? If you're a responsible owner they're locked in a safe apart from their ammunition, so you're not going to instantly fight back against a guy breaking into your house. Why aren't people excited about really strong doors? Guns are fun, that's why. But too many people are too irresponsible with the power that an assault weapon has. It shouldn't be easier to get a weapon exclusively designed for killing people than it is to get a drivers license.

    Should you be able to get one? Sure, I'm all for gun ownership, even if I personally think they're stupid. But take a safety class, lengthy background check, annual renewal and re-certification, no gun sales at gun shows, no open carry crap, minimum age 25. I can't rent a car? I can't have an assault rifle.

    It's like...come on. Look at our history and tell me we're handling guns like mature adults. Kids are dying.