I just happened to stumble across this thread and after reading some of the banter back and forth between both the "gun-grabbers" and the "conservative nuts" (many of which seem to be emotional based taunting although I am sure there have been some valid points made) I thought I would offer up my humble opinions in an effort to answer the question posed in the original post. Why should we not have an assault weapons ban?
Well I believe that every American has the right to own one of the fine rifles that have been labeled an "assault weapon"; I refuse to use the term any further as it is almost impossible to come to an agreement on what constitutes one and will use semi-automatic rifle instead.
First, I believe it is part of our 2nd Amendment rights:
"A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."
Please not that it does not include the phrase "being necessary to the security of a State free from Whitetail deer." The purpose of this Amendment is to maintain an armed citizenship which is capable of deterring tyranny both foreign and domestic. I am not suggesting there is an uprising on the horizon or that our government is actively seeking to enslave the population or Canada is building an insurgent force ready to cross our borders, but checks must be in place that would allow resistance by the regular populace in similar, less silly events. Worlds ugly out there people, don't think that you are somehow completely isolated and safe from the turbulence other nations feel on a daily basis. Uncle Sam won't always be there to hold your hand, and if the wrong people are in the right place Uncle Sam could be kicking in your door someday as well. Some slippery slope argument will surely be made stating that if we should have firearms capable of matching modern military arms then why not throw in hand grenades, RPGs and intercontinental ballistic missiles as well. Personally, I don't feel the need to argue against the absurd.
Second, I have heard many people say that they have no purpose outside of war and that isn't true. The semi-automatic rifles in question are quite frankly great rifles. The same reasons that they appeal to the military and police are exactly why they appeal to responsible citizens. They are easy to maintain, reliable, durable, accurate and easy to operate. In fact, the reason I own one is because as it turns out the necessities of the battlefields from which the improvements made to these firearms make them quite handy to the everyday Joe.
They are highly modular allowing you to easily attach accessories such as alternative styles of sights suited to your particular needs (variable power scopes for long range shooting and hunting, smaller ACOG style optics for closer range shooting in competition or perhaps when hunting certain types of game, reflex scopes that are suitable for indoor environments which would be beneficial in a home defense situation or simply for plinking at the local gun club). Because they are modular you also have the ability to easily change parts for maintenance or even to change caliber (personally I routinely change between the 5.56 round for competition or hunting and the smaller .22LR most kids first learn to shoot with for practice to help save on the cost of ammunition). You can easily modify the stock to suit your build and body type (retractable stock being an example) and attach accessories such as a forward grip to help those without a lot of upper body strength to assist with controlling the weapon. It makes it easier for more people to enjoy the great sport of shooting as well as hunting.
Thus far I have spoke mostly of the AR-15 (AR = ArmaLite the company that originally manufactured the rifle and not "Assault Rifle", unless of course you feel that the AR-7 is also an "Assault Rifle" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AR-7
) but the same can be said for other rifles such as the AK-47 or FAL. Essentially, what makes armed forces around the world choose these rifles is that they are just plain good rifles. And really a rifle is a rifle. It is a means to send a projectile at velocity accurately toward and intended target. The AR15 is no more accomplished at performing this task than your grandfathers Mauser 98k bolt action. End result is something has a hole in it and if that something is alive there is ballistic damage, whoever holding it decides what gets the hole or ballistic damage.
With regards to high capacity magazines, I feel they have a use as well. I find them quite handy in competition but lets look elsewhere. Home defense.. one shot is not guaranteed to be the end all for an attacker. Two shots is no guarantee, three shots and it is still possible for them to continue. Multiple attackers - multiply the fact that they may take more than one shot and you end up with a high capacity magazine. I don't speak to the 100 round drum magazines, I find those silly. But 20 round or 30 round magazines seem perfectly reasonable. Restrict them to 10 rounds and a mass murderer will spend a half second reloading another magazine. Will that save a life? Possibly. An innocent homeowner panics, bails butt first onto the deck and throws his rounds open without neutralizing the attacker and takes a half second to reload. Will the intruder take the opportunity to disarm and assault him? Probably. Do I then get to hold up a sign saying that Feinstein has blood on her hands?
I know.. I know.. "how could he miss 10 times?", well lets take another example. Two intruders enter a woman's home in an attempted assault and she fires into one. If any of you have any experience with high stress situations you know that in all likelihood she is going to pull that trigger multiple times, stress deceleration... you get started and it takes a moment for your brain to react and reset. So you often keep firing until your attacker hits the ground. Well madame, say hello to attacker #2. 30 round magazine and there would be no worries about having enough gas in the tank to continue her defense, with ten she might well be in a bad position.
Could banning high capacity magazines have reduced the number of deaths in recent mass shootings? It depends on the individual committing that horrific act and their gross motor skills. A 30 round magazine might make it slightly easier, but who is to say the killer isn't capable of pulling a new 10 round magazine and gassing up before anyone can say boo. Or better yet, my personal thought experiment (READ
THOUGHT EXPERIMENT) would be to bring 4 handguns. Highly concealable handguns with 9 rounds each and magazines of 8 rounds. I could fire 36 rounds before reloading, gas one up again and continue firing, gas another up and continue firing, and in seeking more potential victims gas them all up for another 36 shot spree... that would be with only 8 round magazines. And most likely it would be easier to get into an unguarded school or public area because I'm not hauling around a rifle that sticks out like a sore thumb.
Finally, statistically only 1% of violent gun crimes are committed with one of the semi-automatic rifles in question. I mean, as a criminal would you want to carry that around looking for a victim? It's way easier to carry a handgun. And as played out as the whole "if you outlaw guns only outlaws will have guns" saying is, can you poke any holes in that? If a criminal wants an AK-47 they will get one. If they want an AR-15 they will find one... and they sure won't be walking into the local gun shop to buy it legally. Stop mass murders by banning firearms? My first reaction is, how many ways can I think to accomplish such a feat without a firearm... and I come up with a scary number.
What is the common factor in these tragedies? People, hurt broken insane people. Can we monitor peoples sanity 24/7 no. Can we offer as many as possible help through greater awareness and possibly government, state or local programs without sacrificing our liberties? Yep. Why not work towards these goals instead of demonizing an inanimate object a second time.
Well this is becoming a rant so I am going to cut off before I write a book. Happy to hear any arguments, real arguments, you know nothing saying "you are the person responsible for killing babies" and the like... just real discussions. Or support, I like support too...
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.