Author: Paul McQuillen, Upstate Coordinator New Yorkers Against Gun Violence
After the recent student-led Town Hall For Our Lives event held in Buffalo, Congressman Chris Collins, who refused to attend, went on TV and complained that the panelists talked about banning assault-weapons. They did; and as most Americans support an assault-weapons ban it was a very important discussion.
But you see, by ignoring the call for an assault-weapons ban, in fact denying that there are such weapons, Collins is sticking right to his NRA-gun lobby talking points; he ignores the reality of gun violence in our homes, schools and communities.
Collins and others want you to believe that the term “assault-weapon” applies only to fully automatic weapons. That is not true. Collins should stop the hypocrisy, stop the linguistic gymnastics. The AR-15 and that ilk are assault-weapons under every definition but those of the NRA, the gun lobby and those in government beholden to them. They may use the term modern sporting rifles, but we know them as assault-weapons and they are killing our children in their classrooms and on their streets.
The term assault-weapon is found in daily usage in news reports and in legislation pending in many state capitals. It is found in the laws of many states as well as in state and federal court decisions. Courts have upheld bans on “assault-weapons” in every case that has been heard.
The reality is that most Americans don’t care what they are called; the fact is that these weapons are being used to kill more and more people, more and more often. Call it what you want, but 67% of Americans support a ban on assault-weapons.
The term is also found, oddly enough, in the 1994 Assault-Weapons Ban which included a civilian ban on semi-automatic firearms that it defined as assault-weapons. It also banned large capacity magazines. Seven states and DC have assault-weapons ban and several others regulate them.
Collins asserts that he recently voted for the Fix NICS and SAFE Schools Acts. And while these are good starts they are not enough. The Fix NICS Act Collins vote for includes Concealed Carry Reciprocity legislation (HR 38), the major legislative goal of the NRA for the past decade. This would allow gun owners from states with weak gun laws to carry concealed weapons into NY.
The Stop School Violence Act doesn’t even mention the word “gun.” Its focus in on money for schools and does nothing to remove guns from the hands of those who should not have them.
The student event was not a rally calling for repeal of the 2nd Amendment nor was it anti-gun as Collins attempts to portray. It was an intelligent, thoughtful discussion of the need for sensible gun laws that was arranged and moderated by students concerned for their futures. The students were anything but the “radical partisans” Collins called them.
Lead image: Congressman Brian Higgins attended the Town Hall For Our Lives, along with McMurray