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home : opinions : opinions June 18, 2018

4/17/2018 1:36:00 PM
The devil's details of firearms regulation
By Steve Nugent

Since the Florida high school shooting, there have been many gun-control proposals and even state legislation passed, at least in Florida. I am truly encouraged by the actions of so many high school students across this country and their growing influence.

The thing that concerns me about proposals to ban or restrict so called "assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazines" is that these terms are not explicitly defined. I am concerned that gun legislation, by using these terms, is risking the exclusion of many equally lethal weapons.

What needs to happen is a determination of exactly what capabilities and characteristics make certain long guns particularly deadly, compared to a typical rifle used for hunting. By deadly, I mean chances of survival if humans are shot, chances of taking the gunman down before mass carnage takes place, and capability to kill from long distances and at high rates. If one analyzes the lethality of all long guns based on these criteria, several specific attributes that make some guns more lethal than others become obvious:

• Semi-automatic or automatic actions in rifles, combined with high-caliber ammo.

• Removable magazines, on-the-fly.

• High-capacity magazines.

• Folding or removable stocks or fully plastic construction.

• Certain types of ammunition, such as armor-piercing, fragmenting, explosive, etc.

I would argue that none of these five attributes are necessary for hunting or sport target-shooting. If a hunter needs to pepper a deer in order to kill it, he should not be hunting. For those who live in fear and paranoia from some threat from the U.S. government and have amassed caches of weapons and ammunition: give it up. The U.S. military has you outnumbered, out-gunned and out-trained. This is why we have a good Constitution and the rule of law in this country.

These five long-gun characteristics must be banned, instead of some weak definition of an assault rifle. An important thing to point out is that many rifles that are not technically "assault weapons" are still semi-automatic and can accommodate removable and sometimes high-capacity magazines. Folding stocks and fully plastic construction can allow weapons to be brought into buildings and venues undetected.

My point is that simply focusing on banning or regulation of "assault weapons" and "high-capacity magazines" is insufficient and leaves too many loopholes open. Anyone with a will to do carnage will still find a suitable tool for that unless these loopholes are closed. Gun manufacturers will still make semi-automatic rifles with removable magazines that can do the same thing as an AR-15, they just won't look like an AR-15.

In order to significantly reduce the incidents of mass-killings in the U.S., we need intelligent, common-sense gun reform. I propose that the following attributes in long-guns be outlawed:

• All semi-automatic rifles, except for .22 caliber.

• Removable magazines on ANY rifle, except for .22 caliber.

• Folding or removable stock on ANY rifle.

• Fully plastic or mostly plastic construction of any rifle or handgun.

I believe the federal government has a duty to outlaw long guns with these attributes and buy back all weapons with these attributes from legal owners. This should be done anonymously, so no gun owner is recorded. No driver's license should be shown etc., just exchange the gun for money. I believe this would actually make a difference in our children's and our own safety, and it would not threaten our Second Amendment rights.

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