Criminal Law Theoretical Foundations
An assault weapon is a term used in the US to define types of firearms. Assault weapons include semi-automatic firearms with a removable magazine and a pistol grip (Bea et al., 1992). In most instances, they also have a flash suppressor and a barrel shroud. Since there is no technical definition of an assault weapon, it is hard to reduce violent crime by banning the manufacturing and sale of the weapons classified under this class. In the past, there was a ban on these weapons from 1994 to 2004, and there was little change in the level of crime.
It is hard to reduce the violence by banning assault weapons because the gun manufacturers would slightly modify a weapon so that it cannot fall under those classified as assault weapons while they have the same power as those banned (Gun Owners Foundation, 1989). Also, the recent 10-year ban did not reduce the crime but other factors such as strict security and legislation on gun licensing helped reduce the crime.
The attempt by the US government to ban these weapons ignores the fact that non-assault weapons can also fire a large number of ammunition rounds with few reload times. Some handguns can also accept high capacity magazines and cause same harm as the assault weapons would. Another limitation of the ban is that different states in the USA have laws regarding magazine sizes. There are only eight states with these statutes.
Researchers in the past years have also realized that guns that kill most people are not the large ones but the small handguns which have not been classified under assault weapons (McKee, 1992). Therefore, a ban could be put on all arms and not differentiate them by being assault or non-assault. Gun makers can also manufacture similar guns that have different names from those that are classified as assault weapons if the weapon of a particular name is banned. Also, the ban fails to put into consideration that both assault and non-assault weapons kill and hence all guns should be banned. There is at least one theory recognizable in this research. The theory used in the research is the descriptive theory whereby I had to conduct a descriptive research study on the previous bans of assault weapons and looking at their impacts when they were imposed. This also helped me to have a broader knowledge of the previous bans and be able to judge whether another ban would help reduce assault weapon crimes.
The economic theory whereby, items like these guns that have externalities can have the taxes imposed to them increased so as to reduce the number of guns sold can be used to curb assault weapons crime. Externalities are the side effects of producing and consuming a certain good. The US government never looked at imposing such compensatory taxes to reduce the people who can access the guns.
In conclusion, the government of the United States of America should establish licensing laws that will regulate the use of guns by unlicensed persons and also look into a proper way of defining an assault weapon so as to regulate the use thereof effectively.
Bea, K., Burton, M. J., & Library of Congress. (1992). “Assault weapons”: Military-style semiautomatic firearms facts and issues. Washington, D.C.: Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress.
Gun Owners Foundation. (1989). Assault rifles–friends or foe: The history of the anti-gun movement. Springfirld, Va: Gun Owners Foundation.
McKee, W. F. (1992). The assault weapon fallacy: Dangerous guns in dangerous hands: modern legislation’s misguided, misplaced and unnecessary attempts to regulate assault weapons.