Democrats Call for New Assault Weapons Ban


Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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25 Responses

  1. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    I wonder Mike, as someone who’s only vague idea of guns comes from action movies and Call of Duty, what actually qualifies a gun as an “assult weapon?”

    I feel like it would have to include all guns, but clearly that would be unconstitutional, so what exactly is the cut off, and is it a technological definition, or a legal one (i.e. purely made up)?Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      I’m not a gun guy, but my understanding is that the term “assault weapon” was made up along with the law. It invokes “assault rifle” which is a real thing (guns like the M16 and AK 47), but assault rifles were already illegal prior to the ban.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Alan Scott says:

        Alan – Not true. ‘Assault rifles’ were very much legal and remained so during the ban. The only real change was magazine capacity and some cosmetic stuff.

        I assume you are talking about fully-automatic rifles i.e. machine guns. Those were not illegal to own before the ban but they were highly restricted. No change on that during the ban or after.Report

        • As a practical matter, post-1986 machine guns were illegal to own before the AWB; pre-1986 machine guns had been heavily restricted since the 1930s and were limited to people with FFLs who paid a separate Special Occupational Tax (SOT).

          Regardless, as you suggest, the AWB applied only to semi-automatic firearms; it did not touch the legality/illegality of fully-automatic firearms.Report

    • Avatar b-psycho in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      Basically “guns we think look particularly scary”.

      Unless held by one of those militarized police forces we’ve got, of course. Because anyone questioning the cops Hates America.Report

  2. Avatar Chris says:

    I wish the Democratic party would take that part of their own platform seriously. I think we all know they won’t.Report

  3. Avatar Mike Dwyer says:


    Here is the definition from the 1994 bill:

    Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
    – Folding or telescoping stock
    – Pistol grip
    – Bayonet mount
    – Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
    – Grenade launcher

    Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
    – Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
    – Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, handgrip, or suppressor
    – Barrel shroud that can be used as a hand-hold
    – Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
    – A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.

    Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:
    – Folding or telescoping stock
    – Pistol grip
    – Fixed capacity of more than 5 rounds
    – Detachable magazineReport

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Mike Dwyer says:

      EEsh… even I can say “this is a camel, not a horse!” if any one of these things is just peachy (including a grenade launcher???) but two is verboten? That’s just loony.Report

      • Avatar Mike Dwyer in reply to Kimmi says:


        It kind of shows how silly the law was. Most of these items are completely benign cosmetics and 4 of them would not be a problem meanwhile even I can say that a grenade launcher is probably not a good idea.Report

  4. Avatar Burt Likko says:

    I’m already on record as being dismissive of partisan platforms and so I’ll stick with that. I think before you take a party’s platform plank a serious policy matter, you need evidence that it’s actually something the party will push to implement.

    But this sure is silly. They should try to define “pornography” while they’re at it. How the weapon is used matters a great deal, but the kind of grip on the weapon is just plain not the issue. May as well ban white cars because more people drive drunk in white cars than any other color.Report

  5. I respectfully dissent from Burt.

    Do I think that the GOP will move to reinstate DADT? No, no I do not. I think it would be manifest silliness for them to do so, and they aren’t that silly. I think the overlap between that plank and actual policy is nil.

    But. I think it reflects the general attitude of the party regarding gays. They are perfectly willing to harness anti-gay sentiment for partisan purposes, and presuming the party writ large could wave a magic wand they would make things broadly worse for people like me. For people who don’t care much about gay rights issues, it’s not a big deal and shouldn’t be. But for me it gives a window into how they would tend with regard to issues of paramount importance, and is an absolute deal-breaker.

    If gun issues are of paramount importance to you, then I think it is sensible to include this part of their platform in your decision about how to vote. If knowing the Democrats, given their druthers, would enact a ban you would strongly oppose, then I feel it is perfectly reasonable to vote against them. I tend to be pretty lenient regarding gun laws and gun issues are of low priority to me, so this is neither here nor there. But for you? I say if it matters that much, then you most certainly should consider it when casting your ballot.Report

  6. Avatar Ethan Gach says:

    Perhaps Mike, you can give us a post on that?

    Or maybe this is good fodder for a symposium?Report