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Ban assault weapons?
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion ...
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Opinion page editor Rick Holmes and other writers blog about national politics and issues. Holmes & Co. is a Blog for Independent Minds, a place for a free-flowing discussion of policy, news and opinion. This blog is the online cousin of the Opinion section of the MetroWest Daily News in Framingham, Mass. As such, our focus starts there and spreads to include Massachusetts, the nation and the world. Since successful blogs create communities of readers and writers, we hope the \x34& Co.\x34 will also come to include you.
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By Rick Holmes
Jan. 24, 2013 5:10 p.m.



One fine weekend back in the 1990s, I was invited out to Hopkinton Sportsmen’s Club for an afternoon of lobbying and target-shooting.  I did my best to commit as much gun violence on pieces of paper  (not much – my eyes aren’t that great) with a rack full of different weapons.



My hosts laid out an array of guns before me and defied me to tell them which was subject to the assault weapon ban and why.  I left convinced that Sen. Diane Feinstein, at the federal level, and Sen. Cheryl Jacques, at the state level, had written legislation so riddled with vague definitions, loopholes and rules simple for manufacturers to sidestep, as to be pretty much useless.



So I wasn’t too upset when the assault weapon ban expired and I’m not convinced that bringing it back will do much good. Nonetheless, Feinstein and allies are trying again to separate “good” rifles from “bad” ones, and will introduce a new bill today.



“Assault weapon” is a politician’s term, not a gun industry one. Previous assault weapon bans were based more on cosmetics, banning weapons that looked scary. But to someone who enjoys guns, looks and feel count.  The AR-15 isn’t the biggest-selling gun on the market today because its the preferred weapon of mass murderers (though it is), but because it’s a good gun, that shoots smoothly and doesn’t have too much kick.  A lot of people who served in the military developed an appreciation for those guns, and if the free market can offer guns to them that share the qualities they came to appreciate, fine.



Not that we shouldn’t take reasonable steps to keep civilian weapons from enabling mass murder.  Lawmakers shouldn’t go after cosmetics, but they should restrict capacity.  That means limits on high-capacity magazines.  Jared Loughner was taken down in Tuscon when he paused to reload.  The Colorado movie shooter was grabbed when his 100-round magazine jammed.  I’d also ban civilian sales of armor-piercing bullets, at least until someone can convince me they have a purpose other than killing police.



It’s often said these rifles weren’t designed for hunting deer; they are based on military weapons designed for killing people.  The truth is, they are also real good for putting holes in pieces of paper. That’s what law-abiding people spend their hard-earned cash to do, and I don’t see the harm in it.

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