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Bush/Republican connection to VA Tech shooting [VIDEO]

Assault weapon used was banned till recently.
 
 
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It turns out that one of the two guns used in the Virginia Tech massacre, a Glock 9 pistol, had been banned by 1994's Federal Assault Weapons Ban, passed by the new Republican congress (by 1 vote) and enacted by Bill Clinton. The Ban subsequently faded into the sunset as the Republican congress failed to renew it despite protests from "every major national law enforcement organization in the country."

In a move that signaled an unusual respect for the separation of powers, Bush said in 2004 that he'd sign a renewal if the Congress deemed it the right thing to do. Wink Wink.

According to the law, a "large capacity ammunition feeding device," like the one used in the Va Tech shootings "means a magazine... that has a capacity of, or that can be readily restored or converted to accept, more than 10 rounds of ammunition..."

The Brady Center, named for Reagan's press secretary wounded in a 1981 assassination attempt, released a report on the 1994 ban ( PDF) which found that the assault weapons banned by the act had, indeed, decreased both in number and in their involvement in violent crimes:

In the five year period before enactment of the Federal Assault Weapons Act (1990-1994), assault weapons named in the Act constituted 4.82% of the crime gun traces ATF conducted nationwide. Since the law's enactment, however, these assault weapons have made up only 1.61% of the guns ATF has traced to crime -- a drop of 66% from the pre-ban rate. Moreover, ATF trace data show a steady year-by-year decline in the percentage of assault weapons traced, suggesting that the longer the statute has been in effect, the less available these guns have become for criminal misuse.

Indeed, the absolute number of assault weapons traced has also declined. This decline is extremely significant to law enforcement and has clearly enhanced public safety, especially since these military-style weapons are among the deadliest ever sold on the civilian market. For example, if the Act had not been passed and the banned assault weapons continued to make up the same percentage of crime gun traces as before the Act's passage, approximately 60,000 additional assault weapons would have been traced to crime in the last 10 years -- an average of 6,000 additional assault weapons traced to crime each year.

Evidence be damned, prominent conservatives commenced the crowing and fear-mongering; like Charles Krauthammer, who called the Ban a "purely symbolic" move in advance of the mythic "total confiscation" bogeyman. There's no guarantee, of course, that the reduction in assault weapons would've prevented this particular shooting -- I mean, it's just percentages and numbers, right? That's the argument, anyway. And, of course, that the rights of law-abiding citizens should not be curtailed by the violent few.

I wonder how that argument flies in conservative circles when it comes to the civil liberties/terrorism tension so often debated? Methinks the standard is double...

Let's leave it with this: Just before the ban expired in 2004, two republicans noted the ominous and the obvious:

Reps. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., and Michael Castle, R-Del., said they were disheartened. "My leadership is playing Russian roulette," Shays said. "There will be without question a horrific crime committed without an assault weapon ban, and every member of Congress will have to ask where were they on this issue."

Evan Derkacz is an AlterNet editor. He writes and edits PEEK, the blog of blogs.

 
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