Friday, September 14, 2007

Gearing up for another gun control push

MIAMI (AP) - The spray of bullets that killed a police officer and hurt three others this week came from something increasingly common on this city's streets: a high-powered assault weapon, fast becoming the gun of choice for gang members and violent criminals.

Where to start. . . First an "assault rifle" is by definition capable of both semi-automatic and fully automatic or burst fire. I doubt that any of the rifles used in Dade County area homicides are really automatic weapons.

Also an assault rifle uses a medium power cartridge, not a high power one. The AK-47 and its clones, both the semi-automatic lookalikes and the select-fire military weapons use the 7.62x39 MM round. That round is about equal in power to a 30-30 lever action deer rifle, but the deer round will likely have greater stopping/killing power due to the availability of soft or hollow point hunting ammunition which expands on impact. The 7.62x39 ammunition available in most gun stores is military ball, that is full metal jacket which has less stopping power.

And when the guns, once found solely in the hands of soldiers, are aimed at officers on patrol, there's little authorities can do to escape.

If the scumbags in Miami were really using full auto military rifles to commit crimes you can bet that the mainstream media and the Democrat Party would be screaming "plague of machine gun murders" at the top of their lungs. The truth is that the guns being used in crimes in Miami are civilian legal firearms which are functionally identical to any number of hunting or target rifles available at gun stores.

"It's almost like we have water pistols going up against these high-powered rifles," said John Rivera, president of the Dade County Police Benevolent Association. "Our weaponry and our bulletproof vests don't match up to any of those types of weapons."

Every credible expert on weapons and tactics will tell you that if you only have a pistol or shotgun and your opponent has a rifle which bears an outward resemblance to an infantry weapon that causes your handgun ammunition to lose all its stopping power. That's right if you shoot a criminal who is armed with a handgun or knife with a .40 caliber 180 gr. HST hollow-point that HST will expand, possibly up to nearly an inch in diameter and put him down like a sack of bricks. However if he is armed with a military lookalike rifle those same HST hollow points will bounce off or inflict only the most superficial of wounds.

I'll give the cop credit for getting one thing right. The bullet resistant vests (there are no such things as bullet proof vests) typically worn by police officers will not stop a full metal jacket bullet fired at even the moderate velocities that a 7.62x39 can generate. This is, however, an argument for better police equipment, not gun control.

Federal officials don't compile statistics on the number of crimes involving assault weapons like the AK-47, and municipalities' numbers across the country are patchwork. But in Miami, at least, there are signs it is becoming a major problem.

Perhaps what Miami is having a problem with is criminal gangs? Maybe things are being made worse by illegal aliens? But it wouldn't be politically correct to say so, now would it?

[. . .]The rising number of deaths by assault weapons reflects growing availability of the weapons and their elevation to a status symbol among gang members, said Carlos Baixauli, an agent with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

"In the early '80s to '90s, it was more common to have a handgun in your waistband and the bigger the caliber, the more powerful you were," Baixauli said. "Now it's escalated to the assault weapons."

Another issue potentially at play is the 2004 expiration of the federal assault weapons ban, 10 years after its passage. The legislation outlawed 19 types of guns, including the semiautomatic AK-47.

The "assault weapons ban" did not "outlaw" the weapons. It outlawed the manufacture of rifles with certain combinations of cosmetic features. Like flash hiders, bayonet lugs, pistol grips and folding stocks. Manufacturers made minor changes to the appearance of the rifles and continued to sell them.

The guns are readily available on streets, Baixauli said, or can be ordered by mail for under $200.

You may order them by mail (I'll have to check the latest Shotgun News about the price) if you are a federally licensed firearms dealer. To obtain an FFL (federal firearms license) you must submit an application to the BATF-E which will have the FBI run a background check on you, a criminal record disqualifies you. You will also have to submit photographic evidence that you actually have a gun store with merchandise on the shelves and regular business hours.

I suppose that it is too much to expect that a "journalist" would know any of this off the top of his head, but you would think they could do a bit of research before running a story.

Perhaps if a reporter is going to cover crime stories regularly, stories the he knows will involve firearms, he could join a local gun club and learn to shoot and to tell the different types of guns apart and cultivate a few friendships with "gun people" so that he would have someone to run this sort of thing past before he makes himself look like a fool.