The Prohibition Era in U.S. history proved it is virtually impossible to legislate morality. The Prohibition Era also proved it is a mistake to blame a product for societal ills. History, though, tends to repeat itself when important lessons are ignored. With many politicians looking to ban even ownership of existing military-style rifles, history is poised to repeat itself.
Prohibition laws greatly regulated legal alcohol sales nearly out of existence. The idea was to put an end to alcoholism by eliminating alcohol. Once done, the well-intentioned prohibition advocates thought the United States would become an idyllic society – or at least be rid of rampant alcoholism.
But instead of this idealic society the opposite happened. Criminal empires were born and perpetuated well into the future. Alcoholism even became a more serious problem, particularly during the height of the Great Depression.
The societal causes of rampant alcoholism prior to and during the Prohibition Era are much the same as now – poverty, corruption, joblessness and other societal pressures. Blaming booze only created an excuse for banning legal alcohol sales. That ban made illegal alcohol sales wildly profitable, and led to even more problems with booze, corruption and violent crime.
Today, those wanting to ban military-style rifles seek to repeat the error of prohibition. While there clearly is a problem with people these past couple decades using firearms to inflict mass casualties, blaming a particular firearm, or firearms in general, is a mistake. There are many societal causes leading to the current spate of mass shootings, and scientific study likely will provide more insights.
Meanwhile, anti-gun liberals are using mass shootings as motivation to ban military-style rifles and erode Second Amendment rights. The most recent shooting in Odessa, Texas, involved a military-style rifle. But, it was bought after the gunman failed a background check for an FFL transfer. He bought a firearm via a private sale, and the seller did not require an FFL transfer.
While the shooter reportedly used an “AR-style” rifle, details of the attack show the firearm type did not matter. The shooter did not engage people at a single scene. Instead, he shot and killed people while on the go. That means even a six-shot revolver would have been just as devastating, because the shooter had ample time to reload. Banning a particular firearm would not have stopped the shooting.
If a ban of military-style rifles were initiated, we need to look no further than New Zealand to see how it likely would go in the United States – not well. Kiwis cannot keep their military-style rifles and must turn in about 175,000 such firearms by Dec. 20. That gives Kiwis only a couple more months to turn in their banned firearms, or face potential criminal penalties. Yet, less than 10 percent of those 175,000 banned firearms have been turned over to authorities.
With more than 90 percent of the banned military-style rifles in New Zealand still in civilian hands, a sudden avalanche of gun owners turning in their banned rifles is unlikely. More likely, current law-abiding citizens of New Zealand will become criminals simply for possessing an inanimate object. That means tens of thousands of Kiwis suddenly thrust into the criminal realm through no fault of their own.
Meanwhile, true criminals will keep all the banned rifles they can obtain, and that leaves the general public vulnerable to violent criminal activity.
Anyone doubting a ban of military-style rifles would have a negative effect need look no further than Chicago. In a city in which military-style rifles are banned and handguns are hard to come by legally, some 35 people were shot over the Labor Day weekend. The liberals in charge of the city blame Indiana and other nearby states for having more lenient gun laws.
They refuse to acknowledge their own societal problems are causing the shootings year in and year out, cities like Chicago and nearby Milwaukee are notorious for violent shootings over extended weekend holidays. Those shootings often involve criminal elements and gangland shootings. They almost never involve military-style rifles. And Illinois by far is the greatest source of firearms recovered following criminal activity.
Now, with mass shootings occurring at a seemingly growing frequency, liberals want to ban military-style rifles. They even want to remove those already in civilian hands – despite the vast majority of civilians abiding laws and not bothering anyone. Such a ban would be nearly impossible to enforce, due to lack of a gun registry.
It also would fail to address the real societal issues – much like Prohibition and alcohol.