My piece starts this way:
Warning about "weapons designed for the theater of war," President Obama on Wednesday called for immediate action on a new Federal Assault Weapons Ban. He said that "more of our fellow Americans might still be alive" if the original assault weapons ban, passed in 1994, had not expired in 2004. Last month, in the wake of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) promised to introduce an updated version of the ban. She too warned of the threat posed by "military weapons."
After the nightmare of Newtown, their concern is understandable. Yet despite being at the center of the gun-control debate for decades, neither President Obama nor Ms. Feinstein (the author of the 1994 legislation) seems to understand the leading research on the effects of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. In addition, they continue to mislabel the weapons they seek to ban. . . .Copies of the studies discussed are here and here. Feinstein's website is here.
On the most read list:
The WSJ published two letters on my op-ed.
Many thanks to John R. Lott Jr. ("The Facts About Assault Weapons and Crime," op-ed, Jan. 18). The arbitrary designation of "assault weapon" masks true capabilities and limitations among disparate weapons. As a former Marine, I learned the hard way which guns were most dangerous while battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. Insurgents with assault weapons such as AK-47s were easily dealt with, while the most dangerous rifle encountered was the British-made Lee-Enfield caliber .303 that could fire accurately from more than six-hundred meters away. They were traditional, wood-stocked, hunting-style rifles, bolt action, and many over a hundred years old.
Another day, another opinion article bemoaning the likely ineffectiveness of proposed gun legislation. John Lott bases his argument on the fact that the previous Federal Assault Weapons Ban barely affected the murder rate. Of course it didn't, for two reasons. Most murders are committed using handguns, and it wasn't a ban on the weapons, it simply banned the sale of new ones. The Australians understood this, which is why, after their own horrific mass killing, they not only banned the sale of these weapons, they also banned ownership, and financed a buyback program. And the result—no new mass killings in 17 years—has been what they hoped for.
Most of your contributors decry the proposed legislation without proposing an alternative. To his credit, Mr. Lott has an alternative, and it is chilling: citizens armed with semiautomatic weapons literally everywhere. I have been to countries where there are armed guards at every building, and I have been to ones where even the police don't normally carry weapons. I know where I feel safer.