Allow assault weapons ban to expire

On Sept. 13, 10 years of oppression of the American people by the federal government ended when Title XI of the Federal Violent Crime Control Act of 1994, more commonly known as the Clinton Gun Ban, expired. If Congress looks at the facts, it will find the only sensible option is letting this law die.

This Act banned the manufacture and import of guns defined by Congress as assault weapons. These firearms were categorized by cosmetic and ergonomic features that present a military-like appearance but have no effect on lethality. The act also banned high-capacity magazines, which affected handgun owners as well.

This law was supposedly intended to keep supposedly extra dangerous firearms out of the hands of dangerous criminals. What few people, not having a knowledge of current gun laws on the books, understand, is that not everybody in America can buy a firearm. Felons, drug addicts, illegal aliens and fugitives from justice cannot. Also, ownership of fully-automatic firearms has been heavily regulated by the Federal Firearms Act since 1934. And semi-automatic firearms, which have been around for more than a century, are used by millions of Americans for hunting, self-defense, recreational target shooting and in formal marksmanship competitions such as the Olympics. Let’s not ignore the value of these firearms for personal defense. Full-capacity magazines, whether for rifles or pistols, are also very important in this role, particularly in a situation where a homeowner finds him/herself facing multiple attackers.

What has the Clinton Gun Ban actually done to curb crime? Not much, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report National Crime Victimization Survey. Between 1993 and 2001, firearms were used in only 10 percent of all violent crimes committed. For this 10 percent, the majority of firearms used were handguns, not the banned assault rifles. The Assault Weapons Act has had little effect on crime rates and is not attributed to a decrease in gun-related hostility, according to a recently released study by the National Institute of Justice, the research agency of the U.S. Justice Department. Assault-style weapons are used in 1 to 2 percent of gun-related violent crimes, experts approximated. As with most other gun control laws, all this law did was punish law-abiding citizens who were merely exercising their Second Amendment rights. The Clinton Gun Ban was based on information from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and was drastically misconstrued by its sponsors.

Most gun control laws actually increase the crime rate because firearms are confiscated from law-abiding citizens. The criminals are still getting them and know that their victim now has no way to defend himself. This has been the trend in England and Australia, where guns are outlawed.

In 1997, when England banned all handguns, the crime rate skyrocketed to its highest in the 100 years records started being kept. According to BBC News, the murder rate rose 22 percent during the first eight months of the law, as law-abiding citizens no longer had a way to defend themselves on the street. Overall, handgun crime in the United Kingdom rose by 40 percent in the two years after it passed its draconian gun ban.

Congress should look at other countries and learn from their mistakes.

Congress should look at the Second Amendment and not infringe upon it.

Law enforcement needs to concentrate on making sure criminals who use guns to commit crimes are punished to the fullest extent of the law.

John W. Cassell is a Rockford resident.

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