Catch up on stories from the past week (and beyond) at the Slashdot story archive


Forgot your password?
What's the story with these ads on Slashdot? Check out our new blog post to find out. ×

Comment Backwards legal system (Score 4, Insightful) 312

When did we switch from, "who did this [obvious] crime?" to "let's figure out what crimes X committed?" The feds know what this guy did. Either it's a crime, or it's not. If it requires a massive amount of digging (by subject matter experts) to try to find some law to charge the guy with, it's not justice. I suspect any one of us could be found guilty of multiple felonies if a team of lawyers were tasked with charging us with something. Having said that, this guy's an idiot for having his name associated with a video containing two hot button issues combined together.

Comment Re:Firearm Legal Status (Score 1) 520

There is no legal definition of assault rifle. The term assault rifle originated with the Nazis, and is generally accepted as having the definition I previously provided. Given the select fire nature, assault rifles are strictly regulated under the National Firearms Act. Note: the NFA does not define or use the term assault rifle.

Over time, there have been multiple defitions of the term assault weapon. There was a Federal definition, until the assault weapons ban sunset. Several states have their own definition. That's a much newer term, which many believe was invented to cause confusion, as it's similar sounding to assault rifle.

because oh horror the media correctly referred to a weapon that is legally defined as a assault rifle as an "assault rifle".

I would request that you provide a link to this legal definition of assault rifle of which you speak, but I know you can't because it does not exist. I believe you are one of those who has confused the terms assault rifle and assault weapon.

Comment Re:Firearm Legal Status (Score 1) 520

  • It must be an individual weapon with provision to fire from the shoulder
  • It must be capable of selective fire
  • It must have an intermediate-power cartridge: more power than a pistol but less than a standard rifle or battle rifle
  • Its ammunition must be supplied from a detachable magazine rather than a feed-belt

Rifles that meet most of these criteria, but not all, are technically not assault rifles despite frequently being considered as such. For example, semi-automatic-only rifles like the AR-15 (on which the M16 rifle is based) that share parts or design characteristics with assault rifles are not assault rifles, as they are not capable of switching to automatic fire and thus are not selective-fire capable.

Comment Firearm Legal Status (Score 4, Informative) 520

An assault rifle, by definition is a machine gun. The gun used at LAX wasn't (as best we can tell from the available information). So the first sentence in the summary is inaccurate.

There's speculation, based on a photo on Twitter that the rifle is a Ruger Mini-14, in which case it may not have qualified as an "assault weapon" as defined by Federal Law. Under Feinstein's last [failed] assault weapon ban, the Ruger Mini-14 with a collapsible stock was banned, but the other Mini-14's were ok. It would depend on whether or not the stock folds/collapses.

Under California law, the pistol grip, and ability to accept a detachable magazine are sufficient to classify it as an "assault weapon."

Looks like high capacity magazines were used, although they may have had inserts to render them legal (i.e. limit them to 10 rounds). If they are large capacity and he owned them before 2000, they're legal. Otherwise they would only be legal if they were limited to 10 rounds (or fewer).

We can say with high confidence that a semi-automatic rifle was used. Under the previous Federal assault weapon ban, and the more recent failed Federal effort, this rifle may or may not have been considered an "assault weapon." Under California law this rifle is an assault weapon. The magazines may or may not have been legal.

Comment Re:Blood is on the NRA Hands (Score 1) 1862

It's not a red herring on the issue of restricting magazine sizes. This case clearly demonstrates that 6 bullets isn't a guarantee that you will take down a single intruder, and there are plenty of cases where there's more than one intruder. The argument for high capacity magazines is that you may have to defend againast more than one intruder. The argument against is mass shootings. The important question is, "will a ban on high capacity magazines stop mass shootings?" The article points out that a ban is easy to bypass, since you can just print your own magazines.

Comment Re:Blood is on the NRA Hands (Score 1) 1862

Her husband was on one phone with her, and on another phone with 911. The police were called prior to her shooting the intruder. There was enough time for her to shoot him 5 times, for him to get up, walk/stumble downstairs, go outside, get in his vehicle, drive off, and crash before the police showed up.

Comment Re:Blood is on the NRA Hands (Score 1) 1862

So you are for banning Ford, Chevrolet, and other vehicles, since they have been used to kill kids? After all, the problem clearly is that we don't have enough restrictions. What would you ban after that, when kids still get killed?

Two rocket launchers were turned in at a recent LA gun buyback. I suspect there are more rocket launchers in civilian hands than just those two, yet somehow we don't have rocket launcher massacres going on. That despite the fact that those rocket launchers are already banned, and therefore are possessed by criminals.

It already is legal for you to own a tank, if you can afford it.

A firearm is a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or for bad. Firearms are reportedly used millions of times a year in self defense, which most would argue is a good use. Unfortunately they are also used around 10,000 times a year to commit murder, which is a bad use. It seems absurd to me to prevent millions of good uses per year to "prevent" ten thousand bad uses, especially if the best you can say is that murders by guns are down by about 10,000 but murders by other methods are up by about 10,000.

Comment Re:Blood is on the NRA Hands (Score 1) 1862

Do you have any evidence to suggest that those deaths would not have occurred if guns weren't available? Looking at countries that have very strict gun laws, it looks like they still have issues with rampage killers. It it possible to kill someone with something other than a gun, and when guns aren't available people just find another way to accomplish the same thing. The one that particularly stands out to me is the guy in China who entered a school, doused a kindergarten class in gasoline, and set them on fire. Someone intent on killing a room full of kindergartners is going to figure out how to do it, and no amount of legislation is going to stop them.

Gun deaths per day include suicides. Banning guns would just cause them to kill themselves by some other means. Remove guns and you'll only shift the statistics from "suicide by gun" to the other "suicide by ____" buckets. In the end, you haven't accomplished a thing.

Almost half (49%) of all homicides using firearms are inner-city kids killing one another. I can guarantee that all of the firearms were obtained illegally, because it is not legal to sell to a minor. We're talking around 5,000 children killed per year, and I haven't heard of any proposals that do anything about that. The issue there is not "assault weapons" as those are almost all handgun deaths. Nor is the issue "high capacity" magazines. What is the underlying cause for thousands of kids per year to feel the need to try to kill one another? Focusing on the why could help eliminate so many deaths per year. Tons of existing laws are being broken -- seems like there's plenty of room to "do something" with the laws that are already on the books, although again I think only addressing the method used for killing would simply see a shift from guns to knives, or some other weapon.

What TFA points out is the futility of a renewed ban on high capacity magazines. Technology has improved to the point where anyone could "print" their own. The genie is out of the bottle. There now is no way for a law to keep high capacity magazines out of the hands of people willing to break the law. Perhaps in 1994 when the first AWB went into effect it could have been possible (didn't matter since existing magazines were grandfathered, and there were plenty of them on the market). At this point a law banning high capacity magazines would make people "feel" more secure, without actually making people more secure.

Also, not to be too pedantic, but it wasn't an "assault rifle" . Assault rifles (shoulder fired firearms capable of select fire (more than one bullet per pull of the trigger)) are already banned, per the National Firearms Act update in 1986. It also was not an "assault weapon" as those are illegal in Connecticut (using the same definition of "assault weapon" as the 1994 AWB), and it has been confirmed that the AR-15 used in the shooting was a legal configuration in Connecticut. A huge part of the problem in the whole gun control debate is people not really understanding what it is they are talking about banning. The details don't matter for those who would just like to see all guns banned, but for everyone else the details do matter.

"WTF, how can you possibly claim it wasn't an assault weapon?" I anticipate many are thinking. Easy. I've read the law. To be an assault weapon, it must be a semi-automatic firearm that accepts a detachable magazine (check), plus has two of the following features: pistol grip (check), collapsible stock, bayonet lug, flash suppressor. The CT gun didn't have a collapsible stock, bayonet lug or flash suppressor, so it wasn't an assault weapon. At the end of the day, "assault weapons" are just guns that have certain cosmetic features -- they don't function any differently than semi-automatic guns that aren't "assault weapons." They aren't more lethal.

Feinstein's new proposed Assault Weapon Ban is similar to the 1994 ban, but change the "two" to "one" for the features. Every pistol has a pistol grip, so all semi-automatic pistols (most non-revolvers) would become "assault weapons." She then has a list of guns that are exempt from the overly-broad new definition of "assault weapon." And therein lies the problem with banning "assault weapons" -- it's a made up category that isn't easily defined.