Rich Lowry: Questions for gun-controllers

BY RICH LOWRY Published: December 31, 2012
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In the wake of the Newtown horror, a call has gone up for a conversation about our gun laws. To that end, here are questions for advocates of gun control pushing for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other new restrictions, to address school shootings.

What's the functional difference between an assault weapon and a semiautomatic rifle? You do understand that the answer is “nothing”? An assault weapon is not an automatic weapon. It is semiautomatic like most guns now sold in the United States, i.e., it fires every time the trigger is pulled. What sets it apart is its scary-looking features.

What's more powerful, the Bushmaster .223 used by Adam Lanza in his slaughter or the average deer hunting rifle? If the answer is the average deer hunting rifle — indeed, many states ban the Bushmaster .223 for deer hunting because it is too weak — will you attempt to ban them, too?

What gun law would have stopped Newtown? Please be specific. Adam Lanza's mother didn't have a criminal record. Neither did he. If the Bushmaster .223 had been banned, he could have done the same with a semiautomatic rifle. If all semiautomatic rifles were banned — something that would never pass Congress — he could have done the same with a semiautomatic handgun. If high-capacity magazines had been banned, he could have reloaded with smaller magazines.

How many guns are in the United States? The answer is 280 million. In a country with that many guns, how is gun control possibly going to succeed? If you ban a small subset of new guns for sale, what are you going to do about the rest? Let's say you succeed beyond anything that is remotely possible. Let's say you somehow stop the new sale of guns altogether and somehow decommission half of existing guns. What are you going to do with the other 140 million guns?

Does the Virginia Tech massacre affect your view of the efficacy of an assault-weapons ban? In 2007, Seung-Hui Cho perpetrated the deadliest shooting in the country's history. He killed 32 people using two semiautomatic handguns.



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