I'm not one to rant, and I'm not a weapons nut or political activist, but all over the internet and the news are facts and opinions about the Saturday shooting in Arizona. Here is CNN's version. It's a terrible event, and my sympathies go out to all touched by it. Unfortunately, politicians are latching on to this event as a way to propose new regulations that re-instate parts of the expired (in 2004) Assault Weapons Ban. Politicians are saying things as ridiculous as:
In the wake of these kind of incidents, the trick is to move quickly. (source)
Right! Let's quickly get people to agree to things before they have time to think about them, and artificially limit them so that they feel safer. Remember how that worked out last time? The whole USA PATRIOT Act controversy? 2996 deaths (that's 0.00096 % of the US population) led to taking away significant liberties, not to mention spending $1.26 Trillion USD (that's 55% of the US budget in 2010).
But I digress, what really gets me here is that people are suggesting that limiting the size of magazines will solve the problem. Here's what The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church has to say:
The gunman used a weapon bought legally, but if the ban on assault weapons that unfortunately lapsed in 2004 had remained in place, then the 30-round clip he used would have been illegal. Yes, the gunman still could have inflicted a tremendous amount of harm, but it would have been dramatically reduced. (source)
The size of magazines doesn't matter when the entire point of magazines is that they are easy to change quickly. Here's an example of changing out magazines in a handgun and a rifle. This speed can be accomplished by anyone with a little bit of practice. If you're a homeowner defending yourself against someone that has broken in to your home with the intent to harm you and the first magazine in your gun jams on the first shot: changing the magazine is the only way to make your firearm useful again.
Have magazine size restrictions slowed anyone down in the past? It doesn't seem that way to me: Columbine High School massacre (12 deaths, largest magazine size was 10 rounds); Virginia Tech massacre (32 deaths, largest magazine size was 15 rounds); University of Texas sniper (16 deaths, no magazine size mentioned but was mostly a single-shot bolt-action rifle).
This isn't about the basic argument of gun control, you can read the wikipedia page on gun politics in the US for a good jumping off point on that. The issue here is that these proposed congressional measures are nothing more than politicians using FUD to boost their approval ratings. If passed, the types of bans proposed will cost taxpayers money and not save any lives. If our government really wants to save lives by placing arbitrary restrictions on things, how about take a look at the leading causes of death in the US and starting with such slightly less ridiculous legislation as:
Limiting the number of calories in a value meal
Limiting the number of cigarettes in a pack
Or maybe even:
Limiting the Gross Vehicle Weight of vehicles available to civilians. Bigger cars cause more damage in accidents!
If it has to be firearms, and if the federal government has to do what many say is overstepping states rights, how about taking the existing state legislation active in many states that requires proficiency tests and background checks for firearm ownership? Nobody is going to get re-elected for spearheading that one.
Oh, and criminals will always be able to get any sort of weapon that is federally banned. I bet you know someone that knows where to buy marijuana. There's an App For That®.