It’s always frustrating for me to discuss gun rights with either side. I have a very clear understanding of The Second Amendment, but that’s not what informs my opinion on current and proposed regulation. I approach this from a more pragmatic position.

There’s lots of talk about making things better. For the purposes of this conversation, I’d like to focus on banning “assault weapons.” Because who needs a “God darn AR-15?”

Let’s talk about what we’ve tried in the past on “assault weapons.” The Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 made the new manufacture and sale of certain items illegal:

  • Semi-automatic rifles able to accept detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
    • Folding or telescoping stock
    • Pistol grip
    • Bayonet mount
    • Flash suppressor, or threaded barrel designed to accommodate one
    • Grenade launcher
  • Semi-automatic pistols with detachable magazines and two or more of the following:
    • Magazine that attaches outside the pistol grip
    • Threaded barrel to attach barrel extender, flash suppressor, hand-grip, or suppressor
    • Barrel shroud safety feature that prevents burns to the operator
    • Unloaded weight of 50 oz (1.4 kg) or more
    • A semi-automatic version of a fully automatic firearm.
  • Semi-automatic shotguns with two or more of the following:
    • Folding or telescoping stock
    • Pistol grip
    • Detachable magazine.

It also banned several firearms by name. What’s important here is that it included a “grandfather clause” making ownership and sale of banned items manufactured and possessed before the ban legal.

The assault weapons ban was allowed to expire in 2004. It was determined that a renewal would likely have little affect on crime. A DOJ commissioned study found no statistically significant evidence that the ban reduced crime in general or even gun crime specifically. This was in part because crime committed with banned items was relatively low before the ban and the ban didn’t eliminate the firearms largely used to commit the crime.

One must ask himself what’s different now? How will a ban have a impact? There is an old saying about trying the same thing and expecting different results and what that means about a person’s sanity after all.

First, the situation going into a ban is a little different now. We’ve experienced an uptick in high profile mass killings involving semi-automatic rifles. The thought process here is that if we ban those items, we will see a decrease in them.

Australia did that after a high profile mass killing and hasn’t seen one since. Although the ban had no statistically significant impact on crime, it is credited with ending mass killings with guns. The difference in Australia’s ban and the 1994 ban is that firearms were confiscated.

The sanity test applied to a new assault weapons must question its efficacy if banned items are grandfathered in. Given our previous ban’s lack of effectiveness due to that very fact, one cannot say a new one will produce the desired outcome. Therefore, a complete and total ban as well as confiscation is the only logical solution to our mass shooting problem.

But, they’re not coming for your guns. Remember? Nobody is going to take your guns away.

Instead, they’re going to make ownership illegal.

Ohio Senate Bill 260, introduced this week by Senators Skindell and Tavares attempts to do just that by amending sections of  Ohio Revised Code to “prohibit a person from knowingly possessing or acquiring an assault weapon.” The bill defines an assault weapon as any one of three items:

  • automatic firearm that has not been rendered permanently inoperable
  • a semi-automatic firearm capable of accepting a detachable magazine with the capacity to accept ten or more cartridges
  • a semi-automatic firearm with a fixed magazine with the capacity to accept ten or more cartridges

The second bullet here is of particular interest as it includes any semi-automatic firearm using a detachable magazine including every semi-auto handgun using detachable magazines. If you can put a magazine in the gun that hold ten or more cartridges, it’s illegal under this bill. Forget the fact that it’s sold with a 6 or 7-round magazine. If you can make a 10-round magazine, which you can for any firearm accepting detachable magazines, it’s illegal.

So, they’re not going to go out and take them, but if you’re caught with them you’ll face a 5th degree felony.

Oh and since it also directs “the Attorney General to prepare for the establishment of a firearm and ammunition transactions database,” they’ll also be able to tell when you try to transfer one lawfully.

But nobody’s interested in taking away your guns, so don’t worry.