Friday, December 18, 2009

Assault Weapon Use by Criminals on the Rise

USA Today reports on the increase in assault weapon use by criminals. Via Southern Beale.

Criminals increasingly are choosing high-powered firearms such as assault weapons, a new survey of 166 U.S. police agencies shows. Nearly 40% of the departments reported an uptick in the use of assault weapons, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a law enforcement think tank.

In addition, half reported increases in the use of 9mm, .40-caliber and 10mm handguns in crimes — among the same types of weapons that police use. The survey offers one of the broadest indications of officers' concerns about the armed threat from criminals involved in murder, assault and other weapons-related offenses.

I like the comment by Southern Beale about this.

Nobody could have anticipated that allowing the federal assault weapons ban to expire in 2004 would have resulted in criminals’ increasing use of assault weapons.

Who indeed could have anticipated such a thing?

The two sides in the gun debate were represented in the USA Today article.

National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says officers' concerns are largely misplaced: "The real issue is the high-caliber criminal, not the high-caliber firearms." He says repeat offenders are overwhelming the system and could increase as states send fewer to prison to cut costs.

Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, says the high-powered weapons endanger officers. If police say there's a problem, "public officials should be listening."

Now, I admit I have a soft spot for Paul Helmke. As a short time resident of Fort Wayne Indiana, the city which he presided over as mayor, I've always felt a connection with him. But, in the light of that tired old NRA line about "guns don't kill people, people kill people," I think Paul makes great sense when he urges lawmakers to listen up when police departments are talking.

What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.


  1. So 9mm, 40 S&W and 10mm handguns were banned under the 94 AWB?

    Wow you folks really never bring facts to the table.

  2. Mikeb: "I think Paul makes great sense when he urges lawmakers to listen up when police departments are talking."

    I am reminded of a story I lke to tell about the NY Times (which I read daily).

    NY Times headline: "Police support death penalty for cop-killers"
    NY Times editorial: "We are opposed..."

    NY Times headline: "Police support exceptions to exclusion of evidence when illegal searches were made in good faith"
    NY Times editorial: "We are opposed..."

    NY Times headline: "Police support gun control proposal"
    NY Times editorial: "We should listen to police more often..."

  3. "Police Executive Research Forum"

    I stopped reading right there. That's the same organization that supported MAIG's attempt to repeal the Tiahrt Amendment.

    This is also the same organization the Joyce Foundation has collaborated with on occasion.

  4. There would have been gun registration and assault weapons would have been banned long ago had legislators listened to Law Enforcement and prosecuting attorneys instead of special interest groups.

  5. Mikeb,

    So we should listen when the police report that a higher number of "assault" weapons are being used? Even when they aren't "assault" weapons?

    I find that anyone who doesn't actually take the time to accurately portray the REAL issue is perfectly willing to bend whatever other data they want to their own agenda.

    Switzerland has the lowest crime rate in the civilized world, with half a million TRUE assault weapons in homes there, but never mind that statistic, they have 300 suicides a year by gun, so we need to remove the guns! (And by the way, if they really have taken the ammunition from the citizen soldiers, how are they committing those suicides?)

    I have yet to meet a police officer on the street who actually believes that taking guns from those legally owning them will have ANY impact on criminals obtaining them and using them in crimes. Their administrators (read politicians) love the idea though!

    Both Great Britain and Australia are trying that option, and BOTH report that their gun crime rates, as well as their violent crime rates, have gone UP, not down since doing so!

    The statistics are so counter to what gun control advocates are proposing that it would be comical, if it wasn't such a great threat to freedom!!

    Thomas Jefferson had it right, more than 200 years ago when he said:

    "The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government."

    If you believe that our government is NOT on a fast rail to tyranny, you are sadly ignorant of what is happening.

  6. The first problem is you have to define what an assault weapon is. You notice some of the cities citied were talking about guns that were not under any legal definition assault weapons?

    I don't even bother reporting these kinds of editorials anymore, unless I notice a pattern, which means some of the anti-gun groups have been pushing them to papers. Even then I just point out the pattern.

    This is a game they've been playing for some time.

  7. Laci Said:
    "There would have been gun registration and assault weapons would have been banned long ago had legislators listened to Law Enforcement and prosecuting attorneys instead of special interest groups."

    Uh, Law Enforcement Unions and Prosecuting Attorneys are special interest groups.

    Fortunately for common sense's sake, they are not very powerful. We don't need a bunch of irrational bans and registration schemes based upon emotions of gun control pants-wetters.

  8. "There would have been gun registration and assault weapons would have been banned long ago had legislators listened to Law Enforcement and prosecuting attorneys instead of special interest groups."

    The majority of rank and file law enforcement officers (and the organizations that represent them) came out against the last assault weapons ban. Which is expected since many of them are gun owners as well.

    It's always been chiefs organizations (like the Police Executive Research Forum ) that have supported gun control. The president of the PERF, Chief John Timoney, has always been a vocal anti-gunner. And their board directors includes such anti-gun characters as Thug-In-Chief Edward Flynn and Gun-Grabber-in-Chief Bill Blair.

    So anything coming from this organization should be taken with a grain of salt. These aren't, as mikeb believes, police departments talking. These are anti-gun police chiefs using their position to push an anti-gun political agenda on behalf of their handlers.

  9. Sebastian, Thanks for the comment. I know defining an assault weapon is problematic, but I figured this police group was referring to those scary-looking semi-automatic rifles that are more and more popular these days.

    About the other weapons mentioned in the article, I thought they might have done better not even mentioning "assault weapons" and talking instead about the overall increase, which don't forget is the main point.

    The pro-gun assertion that there are more and more guns and fewer crimes is beginning to be refuted by reports like this one. I think that'll be the trend and as you guys continue to make major strides in the courts, public opinion will swing once the dust settles and the ever-increasing gun violence becomes undeniable.

  10. Good one, FishyJay.

    NY Times headline: "Police support gun control proposal"
    NY Times editorial: "We should listen to police more often..."

  11. Law enforcement came out against the AWB because they knew it was flawed. And they were correct. Manufacturers came out with models that skirted the ban.

    Law enforcement and prosecutors are special interests in that they wish to control crime.

    I saw use the 26 USC 5845 definition of a machinegun and regulate them as machineguns:
    any firearm which shoots, is designed to shoot, or can be readily restored to shoot, automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

    Most Assault Werapons were designed to shoot in that manner, even if the particular weapon in question is not. Also, the "readily restored to shoot" language helps: ever notice all those full auto conversion manuals out there?

    You can cover your ass even more by doing what DC did:
    (IV) A semiautomatic, rifle that has the capacity to accept a detachable magazine and any one of the following:
    (aa) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon;
    (bb) A thumbhole stock;
    (cc) A folding or telescoping stock;
    (dd) A grenade launcher or flare launcher;
    (ee) A flash suppressor; or
    (ff) A forward pistol grip;

  12. Laci,

    You just "covered your ass" with wet toilet paper. Under your terrific description, one of these is an assault weapon while the other is not. Yet they are exactly the same firearm.

  13. The description of an assault weapon that is not greatly contested on either side of the argument is that assault weapons are select fire. Assault weapons are selectable between semi automatic and burst or full automatic. True assault weapons are already very heavily controlled by the gun control act of 1934.

    Where any contention of the definition comes into play is when the anti-freedom crowd decides they would like to change the generally accepted definition of assault weapon to ban more guns. This legislation, like what Laci thinks is the best, usually prohibits cosmetic features that do not change the functionality of the weapon. These are simply feel-good bans that the anti-freedom crowd loves. The pants-wetters even cry foul when gun manufacturers modify their products to comply with the law.

    This video cuts through the emotion to show the truth. Oh, and it is presented by law enforcement personnel so Laci can believe it too.

  14. MikeB: "The pro-gun assertion that there are more and more guns and fewer crimes is beginning to be refuted by reports like this one."

    Look again, Mikeb. USA Today reports that there are reports of an increase in "assault weapons," NOT more gun crimes or or deaths from gunfire.

    In fact, in the last few years I have seen articles about there being LESS gun crimes or deaths from gunfire.

    Sounds like more guns and fewer crimes to me.

  15. In order to pass the 1994 assault weapon ban, committee chairman Charles Schumer held a public hearing in which several chiefs of police testified in favor of the ban. Protocol dictated that one opposition speaker be included, which was the deputy chief of Trenton NJ.

    In his testimony, the deputy chief of Trenton noted that his position and his political speech were protected by civil service laws, while every chief of police that testified in favor of the ban was appointed by and served at the whim of a pro-ban city mayor.

    Makes one think (if one is willing to think).

  16. Is it really that much more dangerous because it has a pistol grip or a flare launcher? (Grenade launchers are DD's an NFA items)


    The problem is that "assault weapons" are just semi-automatic weapons. There's no functional distinction that can be made between semi-autos that are assault weapons and those that aren't. It's only cosmetic and trivial differences that distinguish them. The closest functional thing you have is the detachable magazine, but there are plenty of non-assault weapon semi-autos that also have detachable magazines.

  17. "ever notice all those full auto conversion manuals out there?"

    Those things are like horoscopes. Even if you get lucky enough for it to work once, it won't work consistently.

    Regardless, those books are the reason the ATF regulates easily convertible weapons in the same manner as machine guns.

    "You can cover your ass even more by doing what DC did:"

    What DC did has already been ruled unconstitutional.

  18. FWM, you are wrong again:

    "In selective fire versions capable of fully-automatic fire, the carbine is designated the M2 carbine. The M3 carbine was an M2 with an active infrared scope system."

    By the "was designed to fire", the M" version would make the M1 carbine regulatable since there are models which are designed to have automatic fire.

    ATF considers the British L1A1-SLR a machinegun, yet no service issued models were made fully automatic. This is for two reasons: the FN is fully automatic and The SLR is a varient of the FN and there was once a prototype for the SLR that was full auto.

    Also, if you could file down a part of tap something which could make your M1 full auto, it's a machinegun.

    It doesn't matter if the conversion is "like a horoscope" it can be done. I would suggest you read the case law on 26 USC 5845.


    AztecRed, you may want to actually read Heller in particular page 54 and footnotes 23 & 26.

    Despite what you may think, I do know my stuff.

  19. The Heller ruling particularly mentioned weapons in "common use". So that makes your list of criteria and DC's actions unconstitutional per the Heller ruling.

  20. Laci,

    The M1 Carbine was designed and issued as a semi-automatic only. The M2 with select fire came later. By generally accepted definition, the M1 is not an assault weapon but the M2 is and is regulated under the 1934 gun control act. The photo I posted showed two versions of the M1, not the M2. Under your cosmetic feature law you posted, one would be an assault rifle while the other would not.

    When you say you "know your stuff" you mean you know your Wikipedia. Have you ever even seen an M1 or M2, let alone fired either one? Didn't think so.

  21. language must be read in tandem with what comes after: “[O]rdinarily when called for [militia] service [able-bodied] men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time.” 307 U. S., at 179. The traditional militia was formed from a pool of men bringing arms “in common use at the time” for lawful purposes like self-defense.

    Good, then you are allowed to own a flintlock since that was "of the kind in common use at the time”.

    Heller only found DC's ban of firearms was unconstitutional, not its gun regulations. Thus, DC's law reverted to the pre-1976 law.

  22. Since you are lazy. Here is the law regarding "is designed to shoot" or "can be readily restored to shoot"

    The decisions of several other courts make clear that the Defendant weapon, which would require, according to Alverson's own expert, a maximum of six hours to convert to fire automatically, "can be readily restored" under the NFA. The Eighth Circuit held that a semiautomatic rifle that would take an eight-hour working day in a properly equipped machine shop to convert to shoot automatically qualified as a "machinegun" under the NFA.10 Smith, 477 F.2d at 400; cf. United States v. Shilling, 826 F.2d 1365, 1367 (4th Cir.1987) (holding that disassembled guns that could be made to shoot automatically were "readily restor[able]"); S.W. Daniel, Inc., 831 F.2d at 254-55 (upholding the use of a jury instruction defining a machinegun as "those weapons which have not previously functioned as machine guns but possess design features which facilitate full automatic fire by simple modification or elimination of existing component parts"); Alverson, 666 F.2d at 345 (concluding that an automatic weapon that was converted to fire semiautomatically prior to its sale to defendant could be "readily restored" where it could be modified to shoot automatically by filing down one of its parts); United States v. Lauchli, 371 F.2d 303, 312-13 (7th Cir.1966) (in a case prior to the addition of the "can be readily restored" language to the NFA, deciding that weapons requiring assembly to shoot automatically were machineguns under the NFA). U.S. v. One TRW, Model M14, 7.62 Caliber Rifle, 441 F.3d 416(2006)

    I am indeed correct about the M1. In fact, this pretty much bans semi-automatic rifles as assault weapons/machineguns.

  23. I find the debate about which semiautos would fall under which definition to be meaningless. It makes the erroneous assumption that anti-gunowner advocates would ever stop at any partial semiauto ban.

    Britain and Australia banned and confiscated most every semiauto rifle and shotgun. They also banned and confiscated most every pump action rifle and shotgun, to which any "full auto" argument is probably inapplicable.

  24. "In fact, this pretty much bans semi-automatic rifles as assault weapons/machineguns."

    Which is why you will not get such a draconian ban.

    "Good, then you are allowed to own a flintlock since that was 'of the kind in common use at the time'."

    And so if we apply the Laci theory to the rest of the Bill of Rights then:

    1. Freedom of press does not apply to TV, Radio or the internet since they did not exist at the time. Only newspapers and handbills may enjoy the 1st amendment.

    2. The Methodist Church, along with most modern churches were not organized when the Bill of Rights were signed. Since they didn't exist then, they do not enjoy 1st amendment protection now.

    3. Of course the government can quarter troops in our homes as long as they don't were red wool coats.

  25. Well, not so much bans as much as there might be a plausible theory of prosecution to someone who owns an M1 Carbine. But I think there's an equally plausible defense. I think you also have to consider Staples v. US, which offers some dicta that could be useful in overcoming a "readily restorable" prosecution for an ordinary semi-automatic:

    We concur in the Fifth Circuit’s conclusion on this point: “It is unthinkable to us that Congress intended to subject such law abiding, well intentioned citizens to a possible ten year term of imprisonment if . . . what they genuinely and reasonably believed was a conventional semiautomatic [weapon] turns out to have worn down into or been secretly modified to be a fully automatic weapon.” Anderson, supra, at 1254. As we noted in Morissette, the “purpose and obvious effect of doing away with the requirement of a guilty intent is to ease the prosecution’s path to conviction.” 342 U. S., at 263. We are reluctant to impute that purpose to Congress where, as here, it would mean easing the path to convicting persons whose conduct would not even alert them to the probability of strict regulation in the form of a statute such as § 5861(d).

    I would also doubt the Supreme Court has gotten more in the mood to hear arguments that § 5861(d) reaches a large subset of commonly owned semi-automatic firearms. Smith is 36 years old at this point, so I wouldn't be too confident in it surviving an appeal to the Supreme Court if federal prosecutors ever wanted to try to nail someone under that rationale.

  26. By the "was designed to fire", the M" version would make the M1 carbine regulatable since there are models which are designed to have automatic fire.

    Wrong as usual. The ATF does not consider the M1 carbine a select-fire weapon.

    Do you ever get tired of being wrong Laci?

  27. Laci: Good, then you are allowed to own a flintlock since that was "of the kind in common use at the time”.



    "Some have made the argument, bordering on the frivolous, that only those arms in existence in the 18th century are protected by the Second Amendment . We do not interpret constitutional rights that way. Just as the First Amendment protects modern forms of communications, e.g., Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, 521 U. S. 844, 849 (1997) , and the Fourth Amendment applies to modern forms of search, e.g., Kyllo v. United States, 533 U. S. 27, 35–36 (2001) , the Second Amendment extends, prima facie,to all instruments that constitute bearable arms, even those that were not in existence at the time of the founding."

  28. FishyJay, You really have some law at your fingertips. I love that "flintlock" citation.