The much beloved mayor of Charleston has an editorial in Sunday's Post and Courier detailing his proposal for new gun regulations. I have a great deal of respect for Mayor Riley, and he is arguably the most successful mayor in South Carolina. Accordingly, I was interested to see what he thought would be "common-sense" regulations.
1) Restore the assault weapons ban. These are not sporting weapons. They are not needed for protecting our homes or for self-defense. And conversely, when they get in the hands of deranged or hate-filled people, they become the tools of mass murder.
Sigh. His first proposal is to restore the Assault Weapons Ban that was previously in effect from 1994 - 2004. What's an assault weapon again? I keep forgetting. When you think about the words, it's kind of funny. If I beat you to death with a lead pipe, the lead pipe would be the weapon...which I just assaulted you with. Oh no! Lead pipes can be assault weapons! So it's a silly term, and people who use it are equally silly and unserious.
Also, was everything better from 1994 - 2004? I don't remember a wave of peace breaking out across the nation. Anyway, Riley's assertion that certain types of firearms are not "sporting" strikes me as both odd and irrelevant. There isn't a "sporting" aspect in a great many firearms. However, that isn't a reason to ban them. Firearms aren't solely for "sportsmen".
On a side note, I really hate it when someone says You can still keep your guns for hunting and sporting. First of all, thanks for allowing me to continue exercising a basic right. Don't do me any favors, bro. Second, the point of the Second Amendment had nothing to do with hunting. I may do a whole post on that later.
Back to Riley, he throws out the "No one needs a _______..." argument for guns. We don't make things illegal based on whether or not they are necessities. We don't really need a law school in Charleston, but they decided to put one there. You don't really need that dopey-looking SmartCar, but people have them anyway.
Just like guns, SmartCars can become a tool for mass murder in the hands of a deranged person. Maybe we should talk about helping deranged people. (just a thought)
Riley's second paragraph here is odd. Is this Riley's definition of an "assault weapon"? Firing many rounds per second? Also, "these are deadly, certain to kill" makes no sense. Most guns are "certain to kill" if you shoot someone in a vital area. However, Riley seems to be saying that the reason these guns are "certain to kill" is because you can quickly reload them. Wait, what?
You can quickly reload almost all firearms, or maybe you can't. That has to do with the skill of the person - not the firearm. I could give the same firearm to two different people, and they would reload it at different speeds based upon their familiarity with the firearm.
This first idea makes people in the "guns are icky" group feel good. Unfortunately, it won't really make our society more safe, so it's not really common-sense, is it? But hey, I'm just using reason, logic, and experience here. That's probably not fair.
2) Ban high-capacity magazines. These magazines offer deranged individuals who wish to massacre large numbers of people the means to do so. They can equip semi-automatic and automatic weapons to fire a hundred rounds per minute. An assailant with a backpack or pockets full of these magazines can keep firing for a very long time.
Ok, so we've already banned "assault weapons", whatever those are. Now, we have another proposal to get rid of all those high-capacity magazines for...our "non-assault weapons" that we've been allowed to keep. Awesome.
Unfortunately, Mayor Riley doesn't give us a number on what is "high-capacity". Is it 15, 10, 5, or 3? No specifics here. I wonder why. Also, notice it's because deranged people could get these. Maybe we should do something about all these deranged people roaming around.
As far as there being "no place" for high capacity magazines in self-defense, that's what my law professors would call a "conclusory statement". It just a conclusion - not an argument. You have to say WHY. Unfortunately we don't get that. Oh well.
Riley here also refers to automatic and semi-automatic, and he just glosses over that. It's almost like he's just throwing those words in there because they sound scary. I'm not going to bore you with the automatic vs. semi-automatic thing, and I'm tired of explaining it over and over. On the specific issue of magazines, it's just silly to think lower capacity magazines are going to change anything. It's like saying you're going to reduce DUIs by requiring that we buy beer in tiny cans. If you have a "backpack or pockets" full of loaded magazines, what's the difference?
Would it make you feel safer if a deranged person had ten magazines that held ten rounds each, or five magazines that held twenty rounds each? Math, how does it work again?
Again, this is a law that makes people feel good, but doesn't accomplish anything. This is some major-league fail-boating. Come on, Riley. You're 0-2.
3) Strengthen the background-check system and close the loopholes in our gun laws.
4) We should impose stiffer penalties on “straw purchases” of guns. A straw purchase is when someone who can legally purchase a gun buys one for someone who cannot. A person who facilitates illegal possession of a weapon should face penalties for helping the illegal purchaser circumvent the law and for the consequences of any illegal use of the weapon.