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The Ultimate Guide to Debating Gun Control: The Founding Fathers Did Not Foresee Modern Weapons

By: José Niño

Gun control advocates are notorious for repeating the same myths about firearms, their operation, and the policies they want to regulate their usage. In this guide, we’ve compiled the most common anti-gun arguments and explained why they’d be ineffective in preventing gun violence and why they also violate the Constitution.

Argument:
“The Second Amendment is outdated, and the Founding Fathers did not foresee modern ‘weapons of war’ we have now when they drafted it.”

Rebuttal:

Why It’s Ineffective and Flawed:

‘Weapons of War’ Are Already Largely Outlawed
The AR-15 is typically the whipping boy used arguing for “assault weapons” bans and banning so-called “weapons of war.”

The gun control crowd tries to capitalize on the intimidating look of the AR-15 to scare the public into accepting radical civilian disarmament policies. They have also promoted the misconception that the “AR” in AR-15 stands for “assault rifle.” It does not; “AR” stands for “Armalite Rifle,” the company that originally created the gun.

Another inconvenient fact gun control advocates ignore is that real “assault rifles,” i.e., those used by the military, have multiple fire settings —semi-automatic and fully automatic. AR-15s only have semi-automatic settings. Real “weapons of war” are already inaccessible to most Americans.

So-Called ‘Assault Weapons’ Are Not the Problem
Consider this: 173 people were killed in mass shootings involving AR-15s from 2007 to 2017. Further, all rifles, not just “assault-style rifles,” are linked to 439 deaths annually. In this same time period, 1,700 people were murdered in cases involving knives or other sharp objects each year. What’s more, Being Classically Liberal reported that “In any given year, for every person murdered with a rifle, there are 15 murdered with handguns, 1.7 with hands or fists, and 1.2 with blunt instruments.” Looking at the bigger picture, we find that homicides involving any type of rifle constitute a measly 3.2 percent of all homicides during the past decade.

An Assault Weapons Ban Did Not Work

The first federal Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) was signed into law by then President Bill Clinton in 1994. It expired during the administration of President George W. Bush in 2004. Many gun control proponents worried that the AWB’s expiration would cause crime to rise. They were proven wrong.

First, murder rates dropped by 3.6 percent from 2003 to 2004 and have continued to fall up until the present. What’s more, per-person gun ownership grew by 56 percent from 1993 to 2013. Such an increase would make you believe that gun-related bloodbaths would inevitably follow. Also wrong. Gun violence dropped by 49 percent during this time frame. In addition, homicide rates hit a 51-year low in 2014. So much for the predictions of blood running down the street!

The doomsday prophecies the media peddled regarding the AWB expiration were revealed to be off-base when new research on “assault weapons” arrived. Gary Kleck’s Targeting Guns showed assault weapons were involved in only 1.4 percent of gun crimes before any assault weapons policies were enacted at the state or federal level. In a similar vein, the Bureau of Justice revealed that 8 percent of criminals used assault weapons in firearms-related crimes in 2001.

To cap off all of this, the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice concluded that the assault weapons ban had “no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

Firearm Restrictions Are Failing in Other Parts of the World
Gun controllers always turn to foreign countries to demonstrate how gun control allegedly “works”. Australia and the United Kingdom are the two most common examples cited to prove their point. Australia gained world renown for passing the National Firearms Agreement (NFA) of 1996 (which was not a ban, contrary to popular media narratives), that only banned so-called “assault weapons” – long-guns, such as rifles and shotguns. Handguns were still available for purchase, but under stiff control.

Although Australia’s gun buyback program reduced the overall supply of firearms from 3.2 million to 2.2 million, it did not have a dramatic effect on crime, which was already low before the passage of the NFA. Interestingly, the NFA did very little to limit gun circulation. From 1997 and into the present, Australian gun ownership has grown more than three times faster than the population. The number of firearms increased from 2.5 million to 5.8 million. The final figure is larger than the total number of firearms in Australia before the buyback even took place.

Australia’s gun control experiment looks less brilliant when compared to the gun-friendly United States. Rapes and sexual assaults increased significantly in Australia from 1995 to 2006. In his book, Four Hundred Years of Gun Control, Howard Nemerov found that the rates of rapes and sexual assaults in Australia grew by 21.4 percent during that period. In contrast, sexual assaults fell by 16.8 percent in America. When you think about it, this makes sense. Gun ownership puts societies’ most vulnerable – the elderly and women – on a level playing field with assailants who use raw strength to hurt others.

Similarly, the U.K. is portrayed as a gun control paradise. Mass shootings in the late 1980s and early 1990s prompted politicians to pass gun control laws that effectively banned the possession of handguns and slapped heavy restrictions on owning rifles and shotguns.

In a similar manner to Australia, sexual assaults grew significantly. Nemerov demonstrated in his book that sexual assaults increased by 76.5 percent. The most notable crime trend taking place nowadays in the U.K is knife crime. The Guardian offered a lurid portrayal of the knife crime wave sweeping across the U.K.:

“Police recorded 39,598 offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in the year to December 2017, a 22% increase compared with the previous year (32,468), and the highest number registered since comparable records started in 2010. Gun crime rose to 6,604 offences.”

Even when guns aren’t readily available, criminals will turn to whatever instruments are at their disposal. In the British case, knives will suffice. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has even implemented “knife control” policies to tackle the knife stabbing epidemic in London. This did nothing to curb knife crime, as knife attacks increased by 8 percent in both England and Wales from April 2018 to May 2019. British police reports from 43 departments have 47,136 incidents involving blades on record. It should amaze any pro-gun observer that Khan and his fellow policymaker don’t even understand that Britain’s criminal class doesn’t care about the law. No matter what obstacles they place on legal gun or knife ownership, criminals still find a way to harm people. Maybe they should consider a more radical alternative —arming law-abiding citizens.

Why It’s Unconstitutional:

The Second Amendment’s exact wording says, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The American militia was traditionally made up of every able-bodied man who was eligible for military service at the time of the nation’s founding. This has been reflected by an 1894 collection of texts from state constitutions of no fewer than 22 states —ranging from Kansas all the way to New York— which included provisions along the lines of “the militia of the State shall consist of all able-bodied male residents of the State, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years.”

Two Supreme Court decisions have tackled the issue of citizens possessing the same weapons our military uses. The SCOTUS decision of United States v. Miller rested on the collective right of the militia to bear arms, but did uphold the protection of military weapons such as machine guns.

District of Columbia v. Heller settled the score by determining that the right to keep and bear arms is, indeed, an individual right that is not contingent upon service in a militia.

More importantly, rights don’t suddenly become irrelevant because of modern circumstances. We don’t see our free speech rights curtailed because of bad things happening on the Internet, or because the media of expression have evolved in the last 200-plus years. These same rights are still protected no matter the changing technological and social circumstances.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Gunpowder Magazine.