Tuesday, September 14, 2004


I'm a bit ambivalent about the expiration of the assault weapons ban. As a believer in the Constitution, I tend to see it as the correct thing. But there's also a part of me which recognizes that, like obscene speech that hides behind the First Amendment, it's probably possible to have weapons that go beyond what most reasonable people would prefer to accept.

Of course, the media are not ambivalent at all; they are absolutely galvanized in their unanimous view that the ban was the highest good in Western civilization and that the expiration is its most heinous evil.

Driving home from work last night, I heard the anchor on our local news radio station read a story about a Miami-Dade police officer who was shot by a criminal using an assault rifle on Sunday. "The gun," the anchor dramatically informed me, "is one of the weapons that had been covered under the assault weapon ban."

The implication was clear: the lifting of the assault weapons ban nearly killed this police officer.

Now, the shooting is a terrible thing, obviously, and I greatly respect the police officers who are out there doing the world's toughest job every day. But in the hurry to make a political point, the radio anchor (and she is not alone) seems to be missing a rather crucial point: when the officer was shot with an assault weapon, the ban was still in effect. To put it another way: the ban failed to do for this police officer precisely the thing it was supposedly designed to do. It didn't work. This is not an example that proves the assault weapons ban was a good thing; it's an example that proves it didn't work. It proves that criminals, by definition, don't obey laws.

According to the Miami Herald article, John Kerry's campaign seized on the shooting yesterday by issuing a statement from former Attorney General (and current Miami resident) Janet Reno saying, "That officer experienced firsthand why the ban on military-style assault weapons needs to be renewed."

No, that officer experienced firsthand why the ban on military-style assault weapons didn't work. The ban was in effect when she was shot, and it didn't do a thing to protect her.

Is this an isolated example, this failure of the Left to understand that criminals don't tend to obey laws? Unfortunately, it is not.

Take a look at this ad from a group called Stop the NRA:

The ad says that Osama Bin Laden can't wait until September 13, when the assault weapons ban is lifted. As if Osama Bin Laden were waiting for legal permission to commit terrorism. By this logic, we only needed Congress to pass a ban on smashing airliners into tall American buildings to thwart 9/11. Why didn't we think of that?

Gosh, don't you wish the assault weapons ban were back in place so that Osama and the criminal who shot the Miami-Dade cop wouldn't be dangerous anymore?

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