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Assault weapons proliferation

By Stephen Erwin
web posted March 22, 2004

Anti-gun Republicrats in the U.S. Senate have proved that they can pass an extension to the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. They succeeded in part because most of the public and even the majority of its core supporters don't begin to understand the most important truths about the legislation.

While the pro-gun community has relied on the same tired old arguments for ending the ban, they have totally ignored the best arguments available. The AWB has actually increased the ownership of assault weapons by hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of guns. In nine years not a singe person has been denied access to a high capacity semi-auto rifle because of price or availability. And a large percentage of the banned guns are identical to the high capacity 9mm handguns carried as duty guns by our nation's police. When these facts are pointed out in a letter to the editor the anti-gunners rarely even try to respond.

This is possible because the law doesn't ban the sale or ownership of any weapon made before 1995. It only bans the manufacture of semi-auto rifles (one shot per trigger pull) with folding stocks, pistol grips, and bayonet lugs. It also bans the manufacture of semi-auto rifles and pistols that hold more than ten bullets.

The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms was charged with keeping statistics on assault weapons, but their web site is strangely silent on assault weapons sales. It's almost as if they want to keep sales figures a secret.

The site does list import and manufacturing information for the years 1986 to 2000. In the three years before the law was passed 3,049,320 more rifles and 4,330,383 more handguns were manufactured and imported than in the average of all the covered years before and after. There can be little doubt that dealers where stockpiling the guns in advance of the AWB.

In fact the market was glutted. The prices of many rifles fell by as much as 50 percent. In 1993 AK-47 style semi-autos sold for $400 to $600. I bought mine for $185 in 1995 and they are still easy to find for under $400.

The Department of Justice National Survey on Private Ownership and Use of Firearms found that in 1993 and 1994 alone 2.45 million high capacity semi-auto pistols were sold in the US. Most of these guns were the same style handguns used everyday by law enforcement and every one was an assault weapon.

After 1994 manufacturers simply redesigned their guns to meet the legal requirements. In his November 14, 1997, "MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY" President Clinton states that "Firearms importers have obtained permits to import nearly 600,000 modified assault-type rifles. In addition, there are pending before the Department applications to import more than 1 million additional such weapons."

In a San Jose Mercury News article, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer state that "we also want to close a loophole in that law which has allowed more than 50 million large-capacity ammunition clips to be approved for importation into this country over the last eight years." It's no wonder 30 round AK-47 magazines sold for as little as $4.95 and they still sell for under $10.

The only thing that Senators Feinstein and Schumer actually accomplished was to make the "dreaded" AK-47 style semi-autos plentiful and cheap. They should be proud.

BATF statistics also show that the percent of assault weapons recovered in crimes dropped from 3.6 per cent in 1995 to 1.2 per cent in 2002. No statistics were available for earlier years. It would be interesting to see if this number also peaked in 1995. That was the year that the national news stopped trying to convince gang members and drug dealers that assault weapons were their "weapon of choice." Since then criminals seem to have returned to using more practical firearms.

So now go out and spread the truth about assault weapons. It will drive the liberal anti-gunners crazy.

Stephen Erwin is Executive Director of the Judicial Amendment Coalition, a non-profit corporation registered to lobby Congress for the Judicial Accountability Amendment. Steve has a background in teaching, engineering, politics, and quality control. Steve has been published in local newspapers, numerous web sites, and the Wall Street Journal. He can be reached through his web site http://www.judicialamendment.com or his e-mail serwin@judicialamendment.com.

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