In America, virtually all small arms are completely legal. The Bushmaster AR-15-style rifle used in the Newton, Connecticut school shooting can be easily purchased with a simple background check. The same type of weapon was used by James Holmes in the Aurora, Co theater shooting with addition of a 100 round drum magazine which requires no background check to own.
I am personally opposed to any new “assault weapons ban,” primarily because the now expired AWB did not in fact ban anything. I am an avid (well, less so now) gun owner, and purchased my own Bushmaster “post-ban” AR-15 during the ban! The problem with the AWB is that there is virtually no difference between a semi-automatic hunting rifle and an “assault rife” aside from cosmetics. The video below profiles a Bushmaster AR-15 that was completely legal to manufacture, purchase, and own during the AWB.
So if bans are ineffective, which gun control measures are effective? In my opinion, gun registration works beautifully As I stated earlier, nearly all small arms are legal in America, including fully automatic rifles, belt fed machine guns, machine pistols, suppressors (silencers), short barreled shotguns, and bizarre firearms such as hidden cell phone guns, call “Any Other Weapons” or AOW. These weapons are legal due to the NFA, or National Firearms Act. They can all be legally purchased on sites like Impact Guns categorized as “Class III” weapons.
Now, this may be startling to you, but the good news is: I can find to instances of NFA firearms being used in a crime. Ever. There are rumors of a police officer committing a murder with one, but I can find no record of that. The FBI and ATF do not even keep statistics on these weapons, that’s how incredibly rare the instances crime are. That’s the power of these laws: they truly keep firearms in the hands of responsible gun owners.
My position is that all semi-automatic firearms, including pistols, be treated similarly to “Class III” weapons, with slightly less regulation (the prohibition on transporting across states lines would be obtrusive). Registration and regulation works. It preserves our freedoms to buy any firearm we choose. It preserves the freedoms of people who do not want to live in fear and be subjected to pat downs, searches, armed guards, and metal detectors in all public spaces. Motor vehicles are registered, why do we not register devices capable of so much murder in so little time? In Ohio, my 17 foot canoe was even registered!
There is a delusional mythology in the gun community that prevents this topic from ever being discussed. I have already written about it here. The gun community needs to come to grips with registration. The government is not the enemy and we are not headed into a totalitarian regime. Registration may not completely end gun violence, however, it can reduce violence dramatically.