“Assault Rifles” Are Legal In New York Again

Why liberals make “assault rifles” the main focus of their gun control efforts is a mystery, for at least two reasons. First, rifles of all kinds account for a minuscule portion of homicides, far fewer than knives, clubs, shotguns or bare hands. Second, there is no such thing as an assault rifle. What liberals have in mind when they use that term is a species of semiautomatic rifle. But they don’t mean semiautomatic rifles like my Marlin 60, because it doesn’t look scary to them:


They mean semiautomatic rifles like the AR-15, which do, they think, look scary:


For liberals, assault rifles are like pornography: they can’t define them, but they know one when they see it. So when they try to ban “assault rifles,” they fall back on relatively insignificant cosmetic features that have little or nothing to do with the actual operation of the gun. That was the case when the federal government banned assault rifles in the 1990s, and, more recently, when New York State passed the “SAFE” act last year.

So one enterprising manufacturer has designed an assault rifle that is legal in New York simply by omitting some of the cosmetic features that are typical of a standard AR-15 type design:


Of course, semiautomatic rifles like my Marlin 60, and many other top-selling models, have been legal in New York all the while.

Dana Loesch tweaked liberals’ ignorance of firearms by posing a challenge: can they tell which of the firearms in the photo below is an “assault rifle,” and which is a B-B gun?


It is fun to ridicule liberals, but a deeper point is being made: our gun laws are written by people who don’t know anything about guns, and who won’t listen to those who do. This is very foolish.

In fact, it would not be difficult to improve the government’s performance with regard to crime that involves firearms. The lowest-hanging fruit is enforcement. We already have a large number of statutes and regulations relating to firearms, but enforcement tends to be lax. At the federal level, prosecution of gun-related offenses has declined by 40% under the Obama-Holder regime. (Holder’s Justice Department has little interest in anything as mundane as crime.) But vigorous enforcement of existing laws doesn’t do anything for the political careers of liberal Congressmen and state legislators.

Federal and state firearms laws could be improved, too. To cite just one instance, the main problem with the federal registry of persons prohibited from buying guns is that a large majority of those who should be on the list on mental health grounds, aren’t. Measures have been proposed to enable expansion of the list, but they run afoul of privacy concerns and unrealistic attitudes toward mental health.

Much more could be said on this topic, but for now let’s just note that the worst possible practice is basing firearms legislation on what frightens people who don’t know anything about guns.


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