The editorial lists names of people killed in the last 20 years in mass public murders that involve guns. All of them easily fit on less than one page of the Post. The writer calls for action, out of emotion, and nothing else but emotion. From the Washington post:
The list below, far from comprehensive, is tragic, in part, because it is so far from inevitable. No, no single law would end gun violence. But there are reasonable, obvious measures that would help. For example: Ban the sale of military-grade assault weapons. Unneeded by civilians, they are a blight on the nation, their ready availability a national disgrace. Eliminating them would slow the growth of this list. It would save lives.
There are many falsehoods and misstatement of fact in the above paragraph. It is unknown what a “military-grade” assault weapon is. No “assault weapons” used in the U.S. military are readily available for sale to U.S. residents. The AR-15 semi-automatics sold in the United States are not issued to the U.S. military, nor are AK47 semiautomatic clones. Details are important in legislation.
It is far from obvious that an unconstitutional ban on “military-grade” “assault weapons” would reduce mass public killings one iota. Most of them do not involve semi-automatic rifles; the involvement of semi-automatic rifles appears to have increased as the media has promoted the idea they were the firearm of choice in public mass killings.
There is the little detail of the Bill of Rights. There are quite a few rights which, if ignored, might result in taking criminals off the streets and reducing the number of murders by significant amounts.
- If we do away with the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, the police would be able to solve more crimes, more easily. Doing away with the requirement for warrants will simplify police work considerably.
- If we do away with the Fifth Amendment protections of double jeopardy, and due process of law, we will be able to lock up criminals more easily, preventing innumerable crimes. As the vast majority of murders are not mass public shootings, this will save many more lives than focusing on rifles such as the AR15, which are used in a tiny percentage of murders.
- If we do away with the Sixth Amendment’s pesky requirement for speedy trials and juries, prosecutions can be done at the whim and convenience of police and prosecutors, keeping many dangerous criminals off the streets for longer periods.
Doing away with the Eighth Amendment requirement for reasonable bail and the prohibition against excessive fines and cruel and unusual punishments could free up the system to extract justice from, especially evil criminals.
If we wish to make a serious dent if mass public killings, there is one amendment we should focus on. It is not any of the above.
It is the First Amendment. Study after study shows that mass public killings are promoted and spread by media publicity and glorification of the perpetrators. Eliminate the First Amendment, and we can return to the day when mass public killing was rare (or rarely heard of).
Semi-automatic rifles and pistols have been commonly available in the United States for over a hundred years. Millions of military rifles with a standard magazine capacity of 15 and 30 rounds were sold to the public as surplus after World War II (6.2 million M1 carbines were made during the war). They have figured in remarkably few mass public killings. What happened? The rise of the 24/7 news cycle, social media, and the Internet have all contributed to the media contagion effect that spreads mass public killings.
A ban on “assault weapons,” whatever that fuzzy, imprecise term means, would not make a difference in mass public killing, just as it did not make a difference from 1995 to 2005. It would make a difference in the destruction of the Bill of Rights, and the rule of law, just as violating the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments would.
In the end, violating the Bill of Rights does far more damage than it prevents.