Slate Doesn’t Like Assault Weapons Ban Because It Doesn’t Ban Enough

March 21st, 2013

When I began reading this piece in Slate that said that Feinstein’s ban “deserved to die,” I was confused. Then I realized why. “The new assault weapons ban wasn’t a particularly good law to begin with.” I agree, but for different reasons.

Why? Well for one it doesn’t confiscate all weapons?!

the bill grandfathered in every existing semi-automatic weapon “lawfully possessed at the date of the bill’s enactment.” That’s millions and millions of rifles and handguns. Granted, it would be impractical to try and confiscate millions of guns that have been legally purchased. But that’s sort of the point: How effective is any bill that purports to ban assault weapons while leaving millions of them still in use? And, critically, the bill didn’t recognize that semi-automatic “assault weapons” are only used in a small percentage of crimes, as Alex Seitz-Wald noted last month in Salon.

Though the article does make the valid point that the lines Feinstein drew were totally arbitrary.

Singling out and banning specific weapons while labeling others as legitimate is an ineffective, headline-driven gun-control strategy. A bullet can kill someone just as easily when fired from a revolver as from an AR-15. Millions of people across the country own and use so-called assault weapons responsibly and legally, and blanket criminalization of their sale and transfer seems guaranteed to engender further resentment and polarization on an issue where common ground is so desperately needed.


Reactively banning certain weapons because they’re perceived to be dangerous might look good on paper. But all guns are dangerous in the wrong hands, and sensible gun control policy needs to start with that assumption and work forward from there.

I have avoided writing too much about the constitutional implications of the assault weapon ban because I wanted to let the political process play out first. I didn’t think these ideas would ever become law. My discretion proved prudent.