Why Gun Control Groups Have Moved Away from an Assault Weapons Ban

A decade after the ban expired, gun control groups say that focusing on other policies will save more American lives…

The morning after the Sandy Hook shootings, Shannon Watts, a mother of five and a former public relations executive, started a Facebook page called “One Million Moms for Gun Control.” It proved wildly popular and members quickly focused on renewing the federal ban on military style assault weapons.

“We all were outraged about the fact that this man could use an AR-15, which seemed like a military grade weapon, and go into an elementary school and wipe out 26 human beings in less than five minutes,” Watts said.  Question – what if the perpetrator “…wiped out 26 human beings in less than five minutes” with a loose-leaf notebook?  What then?  Are we going to ban all office supplies?

Nearly two years later, Watts works full-time as the head of the group, now named Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, is a significant player in a coalition financed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But while polls suggest a majority of Americans still support an assault weapons ban, it is no longer one of Watts’ top priorities.

“We’ve very much changed our strategy to focus on public safety measures that will save the most lives,” she told ProPublica.

It’s not just that the ban proved to be what Watts calls a “nonstarter” politically, gaining fewer votes in the Senate post-Sandy Hook than background check legislation. It was also that as Watts spoke to experts and learned more about gun violence in the United States, she realized that pushing for a ban isn’t the best way to prevent gun deaths.

A 2004 Justice Department-funded evaluation found no clear evidence that the decade-long ban saved any lives. The guns categorized as “assault weapons” had only been used in about 2 percent of gun crimes before the ban. “Should it be renewed,” the report concluded, “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”  With more information, Watts decided that focusing on access to guns, not types of guns, was a smarter approach. She came to the same conclusion that other gun control groups had reached even before the Sandy Hook shootings: “Ultimately,” she said, “what’s going to save the most lives are background checks.”

While many gun control groups still officially support the assault weapons ban — “we haven’t abandoned the issue,” as Watts said — they’re no longer actively fighting for it.  “There’s certainly a lot of public sentiment around high capacity magazines and assault weapons,” Dan Gross, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in an interview this summer. “It’s easy to understand why people feel so passionate about it.”  But, he said, “when you look at this issue in terms of the greatest opportunity to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and prevent gun violence, background checks are a bigger opportunity to do that.”

Bloomberg’s umbrella group, Everytown for Gun Safety, has also deemphasized an assault weapons ban. A 10-question survey the group gave to federal candidates to measure their stances on gun policy did not even ask about a ban.  “We acknowledge that assault weapons put the ‘mass’ in mass shootings,” Erika Soto Lamb, the group’s communications director, said. But “we feel like it’s a more productive use of our time, effort, money, voices, and votes [to focus] on the policies that are going to save the most lives.”  The most common criticism of the weapons ban – which was signed into law Sept. 13, 1994 — was that it focused too much on the cosmetic “military-style” features of guns, like pistol grips or folding rifle stocks, which made it easy for manufacturers to turn banned guns into legal guns by tweaking a few features. During the ban, some manufacturers added “PCR” to the name of these redesigned guns, for ” politically correct rifle.”

But the more profound criticism of the ban is that “assault weapons,” a politically charged and imprecise term, have never been the weapons that contribute the most to American gun violence. Gun rights groups have pointed out for years that the campaign against assault weapons ignores the data. (The National Rifle Association did not respond to our requests for comment.)  While assault weapons do appear to be used more frequently in mass shootings, like the ones in Newtown and Aurora, Colorado, such shootings are themselves rare events that are only responsible for a tiny fraction of gun homicides each year. The category of guns that are used in the majority of gun murders are handguns.  Despite this data — and perhaps because many Americans do not have an accurate understanding of gun violence statistics — an assault weapons ban has continued to have broad public and political support.

In January 2014, a Rassmussen poll found that 59 percent of likely voters still favored an assault weapons ban, even after the measure failed in the Senate in April 2013, along with the rest of the White House’s push for tougher gun laws.  Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the author of the original ban, has repeatedly re-introduced it, most recently in 2013, after the Sandy Hook shootings. Obama made the policy part of his post-Sandy Hook platform for gun violence prevention, though the White House’s central focus was on passing universal background checks.  Experts say that a smarter way to approach the assault weapons ban might be to focus on the ammunition, not the design of the guns themselves. The 1994 gun ban included a ban on magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Unlike “assault weapons,” high-capacity magazines were used in as much as 26 percent of gun crimes before the ban. Limiting magazines to a smaller number of rounds might mean shooters, particularly in mass shooting situations, could not hit as many victims as quickly.  But even this focus on banning high-capacity magazines, rather than guns, suffers from a lack of data. “It is not clear how often the outcomes of gun attacks depend on the ability of offenders to fire more than 10 shots (the current magazine capacity limit) without reloading,” the 2004 evaluation concluded.

SOURCE – Propublica

EXACTO – don’t even bother running…

OK, so you are the ‘bad guy’ peering out from your cave; smiling because Allah has blessed you with high winds and dust clouds in the Afghan mountains you live in. You set aside your RPG and with the morning sun on your face, ease out into full view because you think to yourself “…there is no way an American sniper can get me in these conditions…” Then your head explodes…

For military snipers, acquiring moving targets in unfavorable conditions, such as high winds and dusty terrain commonly found in Afghanistan, is extremely challenging with current technology. It is critical that snipers be able to engage targets faster, and with better accuracy, since any shot that doesn’t hit a target also risks the safety of troops by indicating their presence and potentially exposing their location.  The Extreme Accuracy Tasked Ordnance (EXACTO) system seeks to improve sniper effectiveness and enhance troop safety by allowing greater shooter standoff range and reduction in target engagement timelines. The objective of the EXACTO program is to revolutionize rifle accuracy and range by developing the first ever guided small-caliber bullet. The EXACTO 50- caliber round and optical sighting technology expects to greatly extend the day and nighttime range over current state-of-the-art sniper systems. The system combines a maneuverable bullet and a real-time guidance system to track and deliver the projectile to the target, allowing the bullet to change path during flight to compensate for any unexpected factors that may drive it off course.  Technology development in Phase II included the design, integration and demonstration of aero-actuation controls, power sources, optical guidance systems, and sensors. The program’s next phase includes a system-level live-fire test and technology refinement to enhance and improve performance.

The program recently conducted the first successful live-fire tests demonstrating in-flight guidance of .50-caliber bullets. This video shows EXACTO rounds maneuvering in flight to hit targets that are offset from where the sniper rifle is aimed. EXACTO’s specially designed ammunition and real-time optical guidance system help track and direct projectiles to their targets by compensating for weather, wind, target movement and other factors that could impede successful hits.  The EXACTO program is developing new approaches and advanced capabilities to improve the range and accuracy of sniper systems beyond the current state of the art. Dude…


SOURCE – darpa.mil

The last bullet you’ll ever need?

The standard for anti-personnel bullets since time immemorial has always been the hollow point. It mushrooms out on impact, giving the bullet a much larger profile and stopping it inside the target. Unlike the full-metal jacket, which is designed to wound, it will more than likely not pass through what you’re aiming at.  However, since we started using weapons, humans have never stuck with the “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” philosophy and the bullet is not exempt. This newest anti-personnel round not only replaces the hollow point bullet, it also makes it look like a sissy. Meet the RIP round from G2 Research.

Not only does this bullet look scary, it does scary things. It was intended to be used for gun-toting women against would-be attackers, and it’s guaranteed to kill anyone dumb enough to assault anyone who has this in the chamber. G2 calls it “the last round you will ever need” and describes its effects as “radically invasive.” As you’ll see in the video, the bullet doesn’t just stay in one piece upon entering it’s target. The round uses its forward momentum to send the edges of the bullet ripping apart into your attacker. This not only puts a round into the target, it also sends shrapnel into various parts of the body as well, effectively destroying vital organs. At this time, G2 only has a 9mm version but plans to create various other calibers, including the 45 and shotgun slugs.

SOURCE – Rare.us

Despite Restraining Order, ATF Raids Ares Armor

Ares-Armor-ATF-raidLast week Ares Armor, a company that sells firearms parts in San Diego, obtained a restraining order against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The restraining order was approved by Federal Judge Janis L. Sammartino and a federal raid of the business was prevented. ATF planned on raiding the company in order to gain access to a list containing more than 5,000 customer names. The customers on the list had purchased a plastic or polymer  lower receiver from EP Armory, a part that is used to build rifles legally at home. The metal version of the receiver is legal due to being stamped with a serial number.

ATF and DOJ argue the plastic versions of the receivers are illegal because they don’t have serial numbers, even though they are the exact same part simply made of different materials. In this case ATF considers receivers firearms, not simply firearm’s parts. In past cases and situations, ATF has determined these parts are not firearms. Here is DOJ’s argument:

Plaintiff Lycurgan Inc, dba Ares Armor (“Ares Armor”) is part of ATF’s investigation because it is in possession of approximately 6,000 of these unserialized AR-15 lower receivers. Further, Ares Armor is not a federal firearms licensee, so it cannot legally engage in the business of dealing in these firearms, let alone ones that do not bear the required manufacturer’s mark and serial number.

Over the weekend and under pressure from the Department of Justice Judge Sammartino reversed the restraining order and heavily armed ATF agents raided the company in full tactical gear. Most of the raid was caught on video and ATF confiscated materials (plastic receivers) and the customer list Ares Armor was trying to protect.


People, this should really piss you off. Why? This guy can say it better than I can:

Friends, even if you don’t live in San Diego (peoples republic of Kalifornia), please support Ares Armor.  If the judicial system gets this one wrong, you will probably be getting a knock on your door…

SOURCE – Guns.com

RELATED – Issa subpoenas ATF over storefront stings; Ares Armor case on hold

California Concealed Carry – Light at the end of the Tunnel?

gun-control-cartoonThe United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit recently ruled in favor of the right of law-abiding citizens in California (Peoples Republic of) to carry a firearm outside the home for self-defense. California law allows local governments to issue concealed and open carry permits, but generally prohibits the carriage of handguns in public places. The San Diego County Sheriff’s office further restricts gun permits only to law-abiding citizens who can prove “good cause,” meaning they have to show they faced a specific threat to their safety above what the general public faces.  Basically you have to have already been assaulted before San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore will see you.

The court ruled San Diego County’s gun regulation scheme unconstitutional. Under the ruling, law-abiding citizens in California would be allowed to carry a handgun for self-defense in public places, not just in their homes.

In addition to supporting the case financially from the beginning, the National Rifle Association filed a friend of the court brief in support of the plaintiffs.

“No one should have to wait until they are assaulted before they are allowed to exercise their fundamental right of self-defense,” said Chris W. Cox, Executive Director of the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “The U.S. Supreme Court has already affirmed our Constitutional right to Keep Arms, and today, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the right to Bear Arms.  Our fundamental, individual Right to Keep and Bear Arms is not limited to the home,” concluded Cox.  Damn Skippy…

From the Court Ruling:

Because the Second Amendment “confer[s] an individual right to keep and bear arms,” we must assess whether the California scheme deprives any individual of his constitutional rights. Heller, 554 U.S. at 595. Thus, the question is not whether the California scheme (in light of San Diego County’s policy) allows some people to bear arms outside the home in some places at some times; instead, the question is whether it allows the typical responsible, law-abiding citizen to bear arms in public for the lawful purpose of self-defense. The answer to the latter question is a resounding “no.”

A great victory.  Now we just need to convince Jerry Brown how utterly stupid microstamping is…

SOURCE – nraila.org

UPDATE – 02/21/14 – San Diego sheriff won’t appeal 9th Circuit ruling on concealed guns

UPDATE – 02/27/14 – California’s attorney general takes up court fight over gun laws

UPDATE – 03/17/14 – Parties ordered to respond in Peruta case about California concealed carry

UPDATE – 05/19/14 – San Diego County Sheriff bows out of Peruta, asks Attorney General to step in

UPDATE – 03/26/15 – Peruta case to be reconsidered. Here we go again…

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