Staff editorial: Designed for killing

Illustration Illustration

Illustration Illustration

By Editorial Board

On Monday, a federal ban on assault weapons expired without significant push for renewal or reform. While gun advocates say this is a major victory for the Second Amendment, we firmly stand against the ownership of military-style, semi-automatic weapons for private use.

In contrast to guns used in hunting or for self-defense, a gun designed for rapid firing is only meant for killing mass numbers of individuals quickly and efficiently. Assault weapons are offensive rather than defensive, and ownership of them should be heavily regulated.

The purpose behind the Second Amendment was to give ordinary citizens the power to rise up against an oppressive government. But times have changed, and such a purpose is supportive of anarchy at best.

Gun ownership overall has the potential to cause more harm than good. Studies have shown that those who keep guns at home are more likely to harm themselves or members of their own household than to harm an attacker.

Furthermore, removing the assault weapons ban only makes it easier for criminals to obtain such weapons. In anticipation of the ban’s expiration, several gun manufacturers have prepared semi-automatic conversion kits that ship as early as today. And while opponents of the ban say assault weapons have always been used in only a small percentage of crimes, any fatality from them is one too many.

Part of the reason for the ban’s lapse comes from Democrats who believe support of the bill will lead to the loss of rural votes in an election year. Another reason is that the ban itself was not effective in deterring the use of assault weapons because of loopholes that allowed for simple modifications to enable semi-automatic firing of legal weapons.

Now that assault weapons are legal, mandatory safety and operations training should be required before a permit is issued.

Furthermore, the government should offer incentives for discontinuing the use of assault weapons. One proposed solution is to create a buyback program that gives money in exchange for assault weapons. Such a program could target areas where gun ownership is a result of desperation rather than for recreational purposes.

Finally, the use of gun locks should be encouraged to add another layer of safety and security to assault weapons. Gun advocates say such locks add unnecessary barriers to those who plan to use them in self-defense. However, we highly question the rate of crime prevention among those who keep loaded weapons in easy-to-access areas.

Ultimately, assault weapons should not be privately owned, because the purpose of their design is inappropriate for private use. But rather than view the ban’s expiration as a defeat, gun-control advocates should use it as an opportunity for some major reform.