Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NYT Watch: Jimmy Carter editorializes on assault weapons

Great post yesterday by Sean O'Donnell at The Examiner.com:

In today’s New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed piece calling for Congress to reenact the assault weapons ban. Sadly, his editorial supports many of the erroneous opinions and misconceptions held by many Americans concerning assault weapons.

What exactly is the definition of an “assault weapon?”

The assault weapon definition in the proposed Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act of 2007 (H.R. 1002) could be stretched to include any firearm. The bill labeled the AR-15 rifle as an assault weapon. The AR-15 shoots the same ammunition as some “civilian rifles,” for instance the Remington Model 700 and Winchester Model 70.

Many Americans incorrectly believe that civilians are able to own fully automatic weapons (machine guns) where once the trigger is pulled, rounds are expelled at a fast rate. An AR-15, for example, is the semi automatic civilian version of the U.S. military's M16 rifle. The M16 has a three round burst option but the AR15 can only shoot one round at a time.

The most ridiculous argument for the assault weapons ban is that it will make obtaining weapons harder for drug dealers and gangs. Anyone who honestly believes that gang members and coke dealers will follow the law has no common sense or intelligence. An assault weapon ban only punishes law abiding gun owners who respect the law.

In the NYT editorial, Carter warps several statistics to get his point across. He cites the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in stating that “more than 30,000 people died from firearms” in 2006, which is correct. What he doesn’t say is how many of those deaths were caused by assault weapons or how many of those deaths were suicide. In 2005, there were 30,694 deaths caused by firearms with almost 60% of those deaths from suicide.

Automobile accidents kill more people than firearms; should sports cars then be outlawed? After all, on most U.S. highways the speed limit is 65 miles per hour and sports cars are designed to go much faster than 65 mph. Similarly, drunk driving accidents kill more people than firearm homicides; should alcohol be outlawed as well?

Carter writes that former Presidents Reagan, H.W. Bush, and Clinton also supported a ban on assault weapons. If the assault weapon ban was so successful, then why was the 2005 firearms related death rate for youths lower than it was during any of those Presidents’ terms? After all, George W. Bush, President in 2005, opposed the assault weapons ban.

Carter equates anyone who wishes to own an assault weapon to those who kill policemen or commit massacres at schools:

[N]one of us wants to own an assault weapon, because we have no desire to kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims we can accumulate before we are finally shot or take our owns lives.

With all due respect Mr. President, the overwhelming majority of gun owners with assault weapons use them for hunting and self-defense of their homes and families, not for murder.

Carter calls the National Rifle Association’s policies – “extreme.” I supposed supporting and defending the Constitution and 2nd Amendment makes them an extremist organization according to him. He also states that the NRA defends “criminals’ access to assault weapons,” which is incorrect. Criminals won’t be affected by any gun law period, that’s why they’re criminals.

Former President Carter did not have his facts straight in today’s editorial just as he didn’t possess competent leadership during his presidency. The assault weapons ban is simply an attack on the 2nd Amendment in an effort to slowly chop it away. It is only when we realize this that we learn from the plight of gun owners in Canada and the United Kingdom.
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