April 24, 2005

NYT: Assault Weapon Ban Was Meaningless

The NYT admitted in an article (not an editorial) that:

    Despite dire predictions that the streets would be awash in military-style guns, the expiration of the decade-long assault weapons ban last September has not set off a sustained surge in the weapons' sales, gun makers and sellers say. It also has not caused any noticeable increase in gun crime in the past seven months, according to several metropolitan police departments.
The article later includes all sorts of bones thrown to the gun control advocates, from quotes to arguments, but it's rather amazing that this admission came. Granted, the editors didn't issue an editorial withdrawing their doomsaying about the ban's expiration, but at least the news is being reported despite going against the Times' views.

In an editorial last September, the NYT editorialized that the Assault Weapons Ban was a "demonstrably effective" check on gun crime. They advanced the notion that its end would usher in "gun mayhem" in the country, and criticized president Bush and "greedy" gun dealers, for the bill ending. They also threw in the requisite grandstanding about the gun lobby's unbreakably supreme influence. Read it here.

The reason the ban was stupid should have been obvious: except for a few aspects, the banned guns were changed slightly and resold as other models - perfectly legally. They couldn't sell cartridges as large, but you could get ones that had already entered the market prior to the ban. Of course, ultimately the ban was pointless. The few criminals that wanted to get big flashy semiautomatic rifles still did so, either illegally or with the post-ban models. But ultimately it didn't stop really much of anything.

It is interesting that the same argument made by pro-freedom people to let the ban expire -that it did basically nothing to stop crime- is now being latched onto by the anti-gun and pro-control people as some sort of evidence of the irrational power of redneck gun lobbyists. Actually, it's the fact that the bill's authors are apparently ignorant either of guns or of policy-making. They wrote the law and it's their fault it sucked. They managed to inhibit the Second Amendment while leaving gun criminals untouched. Bravo.

If the gun ban was really so meaningless, then the article's author ought to pass that tip along to the NYT editors. Amidst their fear-mongering and name-calling they held the ban up to be a critical and "demonstrably effective" block against "gun mayhem" in the streets. Advice to the NYT editors: next time you know you're going to lose an issue, don't make assertions that can be so easily disproven. Hopefully we'll see them modify their statement in the next few weeks or months to account for the lack of any appreciable increase in crime using the so-called assault weapons that are no longer banned.


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