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Heston...
Here we go. I do not know if banning assault weapons is the answer, and I don't think anyone does. It certainly hasn't worked in Colombia, but it has shown promise in places like Canada and Australia. However, the government has the right to regulate weapons, and even the right to ban assault weapons if they so choose (not to mention Obama currently has the right to order the ATF to stop imports of assault weapons). The problem here is, we're not doing it very well anymore.

Since the 1970's, the NRA has become to gun legislation what the Tea Party has become to the Republican party. A small group of tobacco chewing, god fearing conservatives has taken an organization that originally proposed semi-reasonable ideas, and they have turned it into a political machine set on killing all regulations that they don't like. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) has become a sickly dog chasing a car due to their actions.

Since the 1970's the NRA has backed legislation to weaken the effectiveness of this bureau. They backed a clause in the Patriot Act of 2006 that made it so congress had to appoint a director to the ATF, which hasn't happened since then. They have also backed legislation that now makes it impossible for the ATF to create a registry tracking gun sales, and for them to release information to authorities from their registered firearms tracing database. The ATF currently has the same amount of agents it had 40 years ago, and it is being prevented from doing its job.

Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, it's not working with Marijuana, and it may not work with assault weapons, considering how many illegal weapons are already floating around the country. However, through the use of regulations that engage existing laws like background check laws, that should not be erased within 24 hours as they currently are, and increased access to mental health services, we might find an answer. Countries that have banned assault weapons and have superior health care access have seen success, like Canada and Australia. It seems clear that just making things illegal is not the answer.

I know what you're thinking, my novice revolutionaries out there. What if Syria had tight regulations on their guns, then how would the rebels succeed? Well, first of all, our country is not quite as oppressive as theirs is, for the moment. Second of all, Syria actually regulates their weapons better than we do. Yes, that's right. In Syria you have to have a license to own a gun, not just to sell one, they have a slew of laws regulating movement of ammo, and they also have extensive background searches before sale. The part where they're really ahead of us in regulation is that they have an official registry of all gun sales, transfers, and gun owners.

So there it is. The problem is not that we don't have enough regulations, it's that we can't enforce them. Banning assault weapons might help, but I'd rather not speculate. It's pretty obvious that it won't fix everything all on its own. In a country where anti-depressants and anti-psychotics are the highest grossing drugs on the market, there is surely a more deep-seated issue.

Originally posted to F*cking for Peace on Thu Jan 17, 2013 at 02:52 PM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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