The BDN Opinion part operates independently and doesn’t set information insurance policies or contribute to reporting or enhancing articles elsewhere within the newspaper or on bangordailynews.com.
Susan Younger is the Bangor Each day Information opinion editor.
Ban assault weapons. It’s a seemingly easy and, after final month’s horrific taking pictures in Lewiston, more and more well-liked concept. I assist it, as does the Bangor Each day Information editorial board. Maine 2nd District Rep. Jared Golden made headlines when he switched his place to assist a ban on assault rifles after the horrific occasions in Lewiston, the place he lives. He gained additional consideration for the bizarre step, not less than for a politician, of acknowledging he was mistaken earlier than in opposing a ban and requested for forgiveness for that stance.
However, how do you ban assault weapons? Easy, some would say. You simply go a legislation banning them.
What that legislation says, the way it defines assault weapons, is critically necessary. And, that’s the place the easy notion that politicians both assist or oppose such a ban will get way more sophisticated.
Whereas Golden was praised for his newfound assist of an assault weapons ban (which 1st District Rep. Chellie Pingree has lengthy supported), Maine’s senators have been criticized for his or her lack of assist lately.
A part of the issue is that the state of affairs isn’t that black and white. I and the BDN editorial board, and lots of others throughout the nation, have fallen into the entice of characterizing the state of affairs too merely: Both you assist a ban otherwise you don’t.
On the threat of sounding like apologists for Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King, their positions are literally not that totally different from Golden’s.
When Collins and King say they don’t assist the newest model of an assault weapons ban, many individuals tune out or flip indignant on the senators. They cease listening when the senators say they wish to deal with the potential, not the cosmetics, of the weapons that might be banned.
It might sound like King and Collins are deflecting or getting too slowed down in particulars.
However, the small print matter. How a legislation that may prohibit civilians from possessing what are primarily weapons of warfare is written is vitally necessary. Make it too particular and gun makers and gun homeowners will discover a manner round it. Make it too broad and will probably be meaningless, and certain tossed out by a court docket.
The 1994 assault weapons ban is instructive right here. Whereas many hail it as a hit, analysis exhibits that its influence on decreasing gun violence was blended, though some sorts of gun crimes had been decreased. One motive for that’s that the invoice was very particular in what sorts of weapons had been banned, which allowed gunmakers and gun homeowners to work across the legislation.
King, Collins and others are working to keep away from related issues with new laws.
Like Golden and Pingree, Collins and King wish to get essentially the most harmful weapons off the market. However what’s banned and the way that language is written issues, so much.
Say, lawmakers handed a legislation banning the AR-15, a gun of selection of many mass shooters. Gun makers may quickly be making the identical or an analogous gun with a distinct identify. That wouldn’t assist a lot.
I understand I’m considerably within the realm of fantasy right here in considering that Congress would go any kind of gun ban laws. However, for the sake of this instance (and for the sake of the grieving households in Lewiston and too many different communities throughout America), I’ve to hope that one thing can go.
Slightly than banning particular weapons which are simply recognizable or which are regularly within the headlines, it makes extra sense to ban weapons primarily based on their capabilities, comparable to a speedy price of fireside, for instance.
It additionally is smart to ban high-capacity magazines. Even when some model of an assault weapons ban had been to be enacted, 1000’s of those weapons are already owned by People. They aren’t going to be taken away. So limiting the sale and buy of the ammunition that’s usually utilized by mass shooters is a prudent step to curbing gun violence.
Saying sure to an assault weapons ban is the start, not the top, of the laborious work of really limiting the provision of those weapons. That work needs to be a precedence for Congress, and the Maine Legislature, earlier than one other bloodbath is added to the lengthy checklist that Lewiston tragically joined final month.