Last week, the federal ban on assault weapons expired.
Thankfully, California’s gun laws are stricter than federal laws.
After all, it was violence in California that prompted the federal
ban on assault weapons in the first place. Oakland certainly has
more than its share of gun-related crimes, and most here at Mills
probably rest just a little easier knowing that violations receive
harsher punishments when assault weapons are used, though
statistically speaking there must be some in the community who feel
safer with a gun under the pillow.
The NRA evokes self-defense as justification for allowing these
weapons on the street, but this isn’t about a handgun or revolver
in the nightstand – this is about military-style assault weapons
and features like bayonet mounts for rifles and ammunition
magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
But can we really be upset about the expiration of a ban with
loopholes big enough to shoot cannons through, so much so that the
law was virtually irrelevant the day it went into effect? As one
gun store owner told the Kansas City Star, “Most people who know
about guns and deal in guns know the assault weapons ban wasn’t
nothing [sic] but taking off a few options on the gun.”
California’s laws, the strictest in the nation, have similar
issues, with one gun prohibited under the ban but another gun that
shoots exactly the same caliber bullet in exactly the same way
being allowed because it looks more like a standard rifle and has a
Regardless of whether or not laws are made to be broken, they
shouldn’t be written so carelessly. We need effective gun control,
at least until society matures enough not to kill one another just
because we can, and it is our lawmakers’ job to regulate certain
areas of society and to do so in an effective manner. Gov.
Schwarzenegger, moderate Republican that he is proving to be,
signed a law adding another weapon to California’s banned list on
the same day the federal ban expired, but if our laws have the same
loopholes, what protection does this really offer?
Guns are big business and big business runs an awful lot of our
government these days. There is no reason for the everyday citizen
to own a military-style assault weapon, and playing on the fears of
homeland security does not make one appear. We can allow the right
to bear arms without allowing these guns on our streets. The
expiration of this ban was a priority for the NRA, who successfully
pressured Congressional representatives facing elections very soon.
It is our responsibility as citizens to ensure the laws that our
representatives write are effectual.