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The Politics of Assault Weapons


Aired 5/6/09

Should Congress and the White House reinstate the federal ban on assault weapons? We'll talk with KPBS Political Correspondent Gloria Penner about the politics of guns.

Maureen Cavanaugh: It might be fair to say that America has gone gun-crazy since the election of Barack Obama. Rumors on the Internet, talk radio and elsewhere that the president will eventually put restrictions on the right to bear arms has led to a run on guns and a nationwide shortage of ammunition.

For his part, President Obama has stated publicly that although he'd like to see the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons ban reinstated, he supports gun ownership and has no plans to introduce any gun control legislation.

Meanwhile, both American and Mexican officials say gun smuggling from the U.S. is fueling the deadly Mexican drug cartel war. And a new southbound screening program is getting up and running to check cars going into Mexico for contraband weapons.


Gloria Penner, KPBS Political Correspondent and host of Editors Roundtable on KPBS.

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Avatar for user 'rbgaynor'

rbgaynor | May 6, 2009 at 11:15 a.m. ― 7 years, 10 months ago

A few clarifications are in order:

"Assault weapons" are no more or less dangerous than other rifles, the differences are mostly cosmetic. The primary difference is cosmetic. In fact one of the most common cartridges used in assault weapons, the 5.56mm, is not considered lethal enough for deer hunting in most states. The pejorative "military-style" is used by opponents to make these rifles appear to be something they are not (military assault rifles offer select fire modes - full automatic or burst modes - that civilian assault weapons only fire a single round for each pull of the trigger).

These weapons, despite Jimmy Carters comments, are in fact very popular with sportsman. The highly modular design allows the average collector to easily customize the rifle to his or her needs, something that isn't as easy to do with other designs. The compact 5.56mm cartridge is relatively inexpensive as rifle cartridges go. Data from 2006, just 2 years after the AWB sunsetted, showed that assault weapon style rifles made up over 10% of all long guns sold, that number is believed to be even higher now.

These weapons are both common and no more dangerous than other rifles - two important criteria that the Supreme Court stated in District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) limit the governments ability to ban or restrict them.

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Avatar for user 'mikevanross'

mikevanross | May 8, 2009 at 5:28 p.m. ― 7 years, 10 months ago

Why is he not doing it, Because most of the American people do not want it!!!!!!!!!!

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Avatar for user 'mikevanross'

mikevanross | May 8, 2009 at 5:31 p.m. ― 7 years, 10 months ago

Yea people in Canada were made to give up there hand guns a few years ago, And look at England, No one can have guns there except the bad guys of course. And Go Sarah 2012 !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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