Friday, July 27, 2012

New op-ed at National Review Online: ‘Military-Style Weapons’: Function, not cosmetics, should govern gun policy

My newest piece starts this way:
‘AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not on the streets of our cities,” President Obama told the National Urban League on Wednesday. After the deadly attack in Colorado last Friday, the president’s concern is understandable. However, even — or perhaps especially — at such a time, distinctions need to be made.

The police in Aurora, Colo., reported that the killer used a Smith & Wesson M&P 15. This weapon bears a cosmetic resemblance to the M-16, which has been used by the U.S. military since the Vietnam War. The call has frequently been made that there is “no reason” for such “military-style weapons” to be available to civilians.

Yes, the M&P 15 and the AK-47 are “military-style weapons.” But the key word is “style” — they are similar to military guns in their aesthetics, not in the way they actually operate. The guns covered by the federal assault-weapons ban (which was enacted in 1994 and expired ten year later) were not the fully automatic machine guns used by the military but semi-automatic versions of those guns. . . .

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