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5/17/2005

Assault weapons ban going no place in Minnesota

Speaking of doing what feels right, it also looks like Minnesota's effort to pass its own assault-weapon ban — to replace the equally misguided federal law that thankfully expired in September — is going nowhere. Section 1 of SF1946 lists the usual litany of mean-looking weapons: the AK-47, MAC-10, Uzi and AR-15.

The AR-15 is my favorite because it perfectly illustrates the illogic of this legislation. The AR-15 fires the same bullet at the same muzzle velocity at the same rate of fire as the Ruger Mini-14. More important, a Ruger Mini-14 was used in the shooting of Edina police officer Michael Blood during a November 2000 bank robbery.

So why is the AR-15 on the list and the Ruger isn't? Because it looks scarier.

This lunacy is made clearer when you consider that assault weapons are used in a minuscule number of crimes. This is apparently news to Sen. Satveer Chaudhary, sponsor of the assault-weapon ban.

"Law enforcement often encounters these weapons," he told me. "Assault weapons in general are the gun of choice for criminals."

Sorry, Senator, but guns aren't the weapon of choice in assaults. According to 2003 Minnesota BCA statistics, guns were used in 1,140 urban aggravated assaults. Knives were used in 1,592, "other weapons" in 1,553, and hands and feet in 1,883. So if the Senate and the numerically challenged Million Moms — who wrote the Minnesota assault-weapon legislation — really want to make a difference, they'll start a movement to cut off the hands and feet of repeat violent offenders. Banning assault weapons will have little effect.

Which brings us to the other bit of foolishness proposed in the bill. It also takes on .50-caliber sniper rifles and the Fabrique Nationale Five-Seven pistol. The .50-cal, used by military snipers to disable armored personnel carriers and aircraft, is indeed a powerful weapon. But there's no record of one ever being used to commit a crime.

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