Assault weapons ban won’t address mass shooting issues

Second Amendment

By V. Paul Reynolds

Emboldened by the horrific mass shooting in Lewiston by a deeply troubled man, the anti-gun proponents are once again in an exploitation mode.

By V. Paul Reynolds

Emboldened by the horrific mass shooting in Lewiston by a deeply troubled man, the anti-gun proponents are once again in an exploitation mode. And, more than likely, the average nonpolitical person in Maine is paying attention like never before. The newspapers’ editorial pages are rampant with the old post-shootings refrain: “ban assault weapons” and “ban high capacity magazines.”

Lets face it, the Lewiston mass killings were our worst nightmare, and the scars and horror of the day will linger long, not only for the family survivors of those shot down by a madman, but for all of us Mainers who never imagined in our wildest dreams that this could happen so close to home.

To be blunt, the Lewiston tragedy is, politically speaking, low hanging fruit for the anti-gun exponents. Those of us who value the Second Amendment and our right to bear arms for hunting and self defense need to face facts. We are most likely dealing with a game changer.

As we have witnessed with other issues that are emotionally charged, feelings trump logic.

Nonetheless, the facts need to be included in the conversation. When letter writers clamor for a ban of all “assault weapons” do they know specifically what they are agitating for? 

During the 10-year ban of assault weapons in this country, the Federal Government defined an assault weapon as a semi-automatic gun with a detachable clip or magazine. My 12 gauge semi-automatic duck gun, or semi-automatic deer hunting rifle, would conform to this criteria, would it not?

The NRA defines an assault weapon as “any firearm used in an assault.” A 2018 study by the Rand Corporation found that this country’s 10-year ban of assault weapons and high capacity magazines had negligible effect on reducing violent crime or mass shootings.

A number of pro-gun hunters that we have talked with are reluctantly concluding that maybe it is time to ban high capacity magazines, that they are the singular culprit. Yet a 1997 study by the Department of Justice found that few high capacity magazines were actually used in mass shootings, and that a deranged individual with a pocketful of five round clips (hunting rifle) can sustain a field of fire not much different from a shooter with a high capacity magazine.

Human nature being what it is, especially in a Constitutional Republic like ours, we look to elected officials to impose a quick fix, to make us comfortable again, to stop this social madness by legislative fiat, at the state or national level.

It is a complex issue rooted in, not only Constitutional freedoms and the right of due process, but rampant mental health issues, Red Flag laws, and flaws in law enforcement itself.

The author is editor of the Northwoods Sporting Journal. He is also a Maine Guide and host of a weekly radio program “Maine Outdoors” heard Sundays at 7 p.m. on The Voice of Maine News-Talk Network. He has authored three books. Online purchase information is available at

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