Legislators ‘Miss the Mark’ on Assault Weapons

June 29, 2013
Dan Griffin

In the Jan 2013 issue of the Michigan Open Carry newsletter, I noted that in New York new legislation (S1422-2013) had been introduced that redefined and banned “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines. Within days of publication, New York passed and signed into law this legislation.

Immediately afterward President Barack Obama held a press conference where he put forth nearly two-dozen new gun control proposals, and urged congress to ban so-called assault weapons and high capacity magazines. Joe Biden ‘guaranteed’ that their administration would pass new gun control legislation by the end of January 2013.

It is the president’s opinion, and that of the New York Legislature, governor, and many others that only law enforcement should have access to these types of firearms.

Actually, they also think retired law enforcement officers should be exempt from the restrictions that they want to force others to live with, although I wonder why those ‘civilians’ are exempted, but we’ll ignore that for now since there is really no good reason. (If anyone reading this thinks they know the original reason retired LEOs were exempted from civilian carry regulations years ago, email me. Maybe I’ll award a prize for the correct answer). Also notice that military veterans are not exempted.

So why do they think law enforcement and retirees should be exempt from the same laws the rest of us have to live under? Is it because their jobs are so dangerous that they have a higher incidence of homicide by criminals? In fact, are police more likely to be killed by a criminal than the average citizen? Using the stats from one very recent year, there were 800,000 federal, state, and local law enforcement officers in the US, and 138 were killed.

That is 17.25 per 100,000.

In fact, the rate was lower, about 14 per 100,000 a few years later, but the numbers do bounce around a little, so let’s go with the former.

But wait! Almost half of them were from traffic accidents. Filtering that data out, that leaves maybe 8 to 10 per 100,000 depending on the year. And even some of those are “other causes.” Those range from falls to aircraft accidents to drowning to job-related illnesses to being struck by a vehicle on the side of the road during a traffic stop. The fact is, when you look at officer murders by criminals (shooting, stabbing, beaten to death), the true rate for police homicides from criminals ranges from 5.0 to 7.6 per 100,000 depending on the year.

By comparison, the homicide rate for US citizens for the past few years ranges from 4.8 to 5.8 per 100,000, or roughly the same as law enforcement. Yet because of the laws one might incorrectly assume that police get killed by criminals much more than civilians like you and I. They don’t.

That doesn’t even take into account that violent assaults to citizens that result in serious bodily injury — excluding rape, other sexual assaults, and violence leading to death — ranged between 260 to 290 per 100,000 for the last few years. Shouldn’t the average citizen have whatever means possible to counter these attacks from criminals?

This is all to say, your expectation of meeting a violent assault or death from a criminal is not really all that much different than a police officer. You should have the exact same means of self-defense that a cop does. As Massad Ayoob has said, the police are the experts on what it takes to fight against criminals. If they have determined that a “high capacity” semi-automatic pistol and a .223 semi-automatic rifle with 30-round magazines are the best firearms for them to use to protect people like me and my family, they are obviously the best things for us to use to protect ourselves and our families.

While all this was going on, a new bill was introduced into the Illinois House. Allowing the residents of Illinois to carry a firearm, HB0154 stated in part:

A community college, college, or university may prohibit the carrying of a firearm on its campus in a manner that is not inconsistent with subsection (d). If a community college, college, or university elects to prohibit the carrying of firearms on its campus, it shall be civilly liable for any injury from a criminal act upon a person holding a permit for carrying a concealed firearm who was prohibited from carrying a concealed firearm on the premises.

Paradoxically, the only state traditionally more restrictive than New York was looking at crafting new firearm carry legislation that would also hold colleges and universities civilly liable for denying campus carry. I applaud this type of forward thinking. Unfortunately the version that made it to the Illinois governor’s desk omitted the campus carry liability clause.

We clearly still have a lot of work to do. It is only with your continued and active support that we will continue to make progress in advancing the rights of firearms owners here in these United States.




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