World Peace Update
Compared to last week's French air strikes against Islamist rebels in Mali, this week—world violence-wise—has been a bit of a wash out. If it weren't for some pissed off Egyptians, Turks, and the never-ending slaughter in Syria, I'd be so bored I'd have probably paid some attention to Obama's inauguration. Then again, when I think about Obama, I think about drone wars. So that's always a plus, I guess.
Read the whole article

World Peace Update

Compared to last week's French air strikes against Islamist rebels in Mali, this week—world violence-wise—has been a bit of a wash out. If it weren't for some pissed off Egyptians, Turks, and the never-ending slaughter in Syria, I'd be so bored I'd have probably paid some attention to Obama's inauguration. Then again, when I think about Obama, I think about drone wars. So that's always a plus, I guess.

Read the whole article



World Peace Update: People are still killing each other.

World Peace Update: People are still killing each other.

Meet Syria’s 11-Year-Old Killing Machine
Mohammed Afar is 11 years old. The modified AK-47 assault rifle he carries stretches to nearly two-thirds his height.
Over top of his faded yellow jacket a Free Syrian Army vest holds three extra clips, each full with live ammunition, and a walkie-talkie. An FSA badge sits on one side and a rendering of the Islamic Shahada, in Arabic calligraphy, on the other.
He says he does not miss school or want to stay at home with his mother and two sisters.
“I want to stay as a fighter until Bashar is killed,” he says, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The fighters surrounding him, all claiming to be from Liwa al-Tawhid, pass him a sniper rifle and offer to take him to a frontline, so he can demonstrate his shooting.
“He is a great shot,” says his father, Mohammed Saleh Afar. “He is my little lion.”
Over the course of its grinding 21-month insurgency, Syria’s children have endured numerous abuses.
Caught-up in shelling, airstrikes, and sniping, they have additionally been subject to arbitrary arrest, torture and rape, as reported by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria in August; which, additionally, noted “with concern reports that children under 18 are fighting and performing auxiliary roles for anti-Government armed groups.”
Both the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Children carry provisions that call for not using combatants under the age of 15, while the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute makes it a war crime.
Continue

Meet Syria’s 11-Year-Old Killing Machine

Mohammed Afar is 11 years old. The modified AK-47 assault rifle he carries stretches to nearly two-thirds his height.

Over top of his faded yellow jacket a Free Syrian Army vest holds three extra clips, each full with live ammunition, and a walkie-talkie. An FSA badge sits on one side and a rendering of the Islamic Shahada, in Arabic calligraphy, on the other.

He says he does not miss school or want to stay at home with his mother and two sisters.

“I want to stay as a fighter until Bashar is killed,” he says, referring to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The fighters surrounding him, all claiming to be from Liwa al-Tawhid, pass him a sniper rifle and offer to take him to a frontline, so he can demonstrate his shooting.

“He is a great shot,” says his father, Mohammed Saleh Afar. “He is my little lion.”

Over the course of its grinding 21-month insurgency, Syria’s children have endured numerous abuses.

Caught-up in shelling, airstrikes, and sniping, they have additionally been subject to arbitrary arrest, torture and rape, as reported by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Syria in August; which, additionally, noted “with concern reports that children under 18 are fighting and performing auxiliary roles for anti-Government armed groups.”

Both the Geneva Conventions and the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Children carry provisions that call for not using combatants under the age of 15, while the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute makes it a war crime.

Continue

North Korea Is Frighteningly Boring

Last November, Maxime Delvaux went to North Korea, which isn’t easy for a photographer. She entered as a tourist with a permanent guide and driver. Like most visitors to the hermit kingdom, she was only allowed to see approved sites. The tour, and others like it, are basically propaganda to convince outsiders of North Korea’s stability, civility, power, and grandeur. The resulting images document this eerie sterility. The viewer can sense that there are unpleasant things going on behind the monumental closed doors.

In an introductory piece about the photos, Mikhail Kissine writes, “The few people in the surrounding emptiness give the scale of the buildings; the sober explanations, provided by the regime itself, give the scale of the folly… One should be scared of a regime that builds to fool visitors. What Maxime Delvaux’s photos show is very real. Sufficiently real, indeed, to gently distillate a disturbing feeling, where the nauseating vertigo of some of the Borge’s Fictions mixes up with a genuine Orwellian fear.” Maxime’s pictures, while peaceful and unshocking, get under your skin and hint at the true nature of the country. If such a visit is so highly controlled, what fucked up stuff goes on when visitors aren’t there?

MORE PHOTOS

Tascosa Feed Yard, Bushland, Texas—There were about 31 million beef cows in the US as of 2011, and 27 million feeder calves on their way to becoming meat. The country exported 2.78 billion pounds of beef that year, worth a total of $5.04 billion. 

Tascosa Feed Yard, Bushland, Texas—There were about 31 million beef cows in the US as of 2011, and 27 million feeder calves on their way to becoming meat. The country exported 2.78 billion pounds of beef that year, worth a total of $5.04 billion. 


Hopelessness, by Bob Odenkirk

Hopelessness, by Bob Odenkirk


A few months ago, a death-row inmate from Nevada sent our music editor, Kelly McClure, a fan letter. His name is Scott Dozier, and he seems like a nice guy on paper—on the other hand, he did steal $12,000 from a dude who had brought the cash to buy stuff to make meth, then shot him, hacked the body into two pieces, and put it into a suitcase. He also killed another man in 2002, and they never found that guy’s head or arms. So just keep that in mind when you read the excerpt from his fan letter below. 
Dear Ms. McClure,
You are hilarious and awesome and I love you, not, however, like you’d reasonably (and correctly the vast majority of the time) presume someone on death row means when they say they “love” you. 
You’ve made it plain you’re a lesbian—which is terrific, but again, not like you’d reasonably presume when someone on death row says, “Gee… I think it’s terrific you’re a lesbian.” (I guess I can reasonably presume you’re not the same Kelly McClure from Boulder City, NV, who shared her virginity with me in the shower at Jeff Yinger’s house in the summer of ’85 for two reasons: I) I can’t imagine you’re old enough. II) you’re a lesbian… although she did play softball…)
I digress.
If you’ve ever had even the most remote personal or journalistic interest about life on death row, living as a “condemned to die” individual, associations or dynamics therein from someone who is not a creep… I’m your guy.
I’ve written the magazine before to no avail, and will likely continue to until the government-sanctioned murder of my corporeal being (and maybe my “soul” too, guess we’ll see ϑ), as I’ve got a surplus of time on my hands and a catastrophic dearth of intelligence, hilarity, and awesomeness. I can only draw and work out so much.
If you’re interested you can check out my “fit for public consumption” pastels at/on my Facebook page/wall (whatever the frick it’s called). No (in the event you’re wondering), I do not have FB/computer access, it’s managed by my sister and a friend.
My most sincere thanks for the little taste I get monthly, the mag rocks way hard ass, I love it (and yes I’d marry it). I read it cover to cover at least three times and wait with bated breath for the next issue to arrive. 
Be nice to yourself, all my very, very best
Sincerely,S.R. DozierAKA Skoti
Bring a box of tissues and read more from our Hopelessness Issue:
The Secret Drinker’s Handbook
Don’t Get Caught
The Right to Die Is the Right to Live

A few months ago, a death-row inmate from Nevada sent our music editor, Kelly McClure, a fan letter. His name is Scott Dozier, and he seems like a nice guy on paper—on the other hand, he did steal $12,000 from a dude who had brought the cash to buy stuff to make meth, then shot him, hacked the body into two pieces, and put it into a suitcase. He also killed another man in 2002, and they never found that guy’s head or arms. So just keep that in mind when you read the excerpt from his fan letter below. 

Dear Ms. McClure,

You are hilarious and awesome and I love you, not, however, like you’d reasonably (and correctly the vast majority of the time) presume someone on death row means when they say they “love” you. 

You’ve made it plain you’re a lesbian—which is terrific, but again, not like you’d reasonably presume when someone on death row says, “Gee… I think it’s terrific you’re a lesbian.” (I guess I can reasonably presume you’re not the same Kelly McClure from Boulder City, NV, who shared her virginity with me in the shower at Jeff Yinger’s house in the summer of ’85 for two reasons: I) I can’t imagine you’re old enough. II) you’re a lesbian… although she did play softball…)

I digress.

If you’ve ever had even the most remote personal or journalistic interest about life on death row, living as a “condemned to die” individual, associations or dynamics therein from someone who is not a creep… I’m your guy.

I’ve written the magazine before to no avail, and will likely continue to until the government-sanctioned murder of my corporeal being (and maybe my “soul” too, guess we’ll see ϑ), as I’ve got a surplus of time on my hands and a catastrophic dearth of intelligence, hilarity, and awesomeness. I can only draw and work out so much.

If you’re interested you can check out my “fit for public consumption” pastels at/on my Facebook page/wall (whatever the frick it’s called). No (in the event you’re wondering), I do not have FB/computer access, it’s managed by my sister and a friend.

My most sincere thanks for the little taste I get monthly, the mag rocks way hard ass, I love it (and yes I’d marry it). I read it cover to cover at least three times and wait with bated breath for the next issue to arrive. 

Be nice to yourself, all my very, very best

Sincerely,
S.R. Dozier
AKA Skoti

Bring a box of tissues and read more from our Hopelessness Issue:

The Secret Drinker’s Handbook

Don’t Get Caught

The Right to Die Is the Right to Live

With over 270 million guns in America, can anyone win the firearms debate? VICE’s Rocco Castoro examines Florida gun laws to find out.
The original version of this article appeared in the print edition of VICE’s December Hopelessness Issue. It was sent to press two weeks before Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut—one that ripped the heart straight out of America’s chest. An unfortunately timely piece, it has been updated accordingly.

The almost unfathomable national tragedy that happened on December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut, was the latest and most horrific example in a string of mass shootings that have occurred in the United States over the past 30 years. Unfortunately it took the brutal murder of 20 very young students and six of their caretakers at Sandy Hook Elementary School for Americans to truly attempt to wrap their minds around current firearms laws and reflect on the culture that has created them. And this time there will almost certainly be a massive legislative shift on the national level. How pivotal it will be remains to be seen.
However, what the nation will find—if history is any indicator—is that legal solutions to this dilemma will prove unsuccessful. Even worse, further restrictions on firearms may exacerbate the situation. This is because the information and decision-making process that is needed to responsibly unify firearms laws is inherently flawed from within.
There is a very specific reason that people—heroes, monsters, and especially Americans—like guns. It’s the same reason I like guns. I like shooting down a pockmarked range or sandy berm on a cloudy day. I like the feeling of curved metal behind my fingertip, knowing that the world can be forever changed with a simple pull.
My more sensible friends tell me I am this way because I’m a Floridian. And up until recently, I pretended to disagree. But I can no longer deny that they’ve been right all along. Then again, my most sensible friends were not born in Florida.
Growing up in the Sunshine State, I was brought up around guns and taught to respect their power, ensuring that I accepted the full spectrum of responsibility that comes with owning or even holding a firearm. Many of the people who raised me (with the important exception of my mother) felt that it was their duty to teach me the basics of gun safety, in the same way everyone should know how to fix a flat tire. This does not mean I agree with all or even the majority of American firearms laws. And in order to delve into the minutia of one of the most troubling catch-22s of our time, in mid-November I waded through the swampy backwaters of firearms legislation in my home state, which I hoped would serve as a microcosm for the rest of the nation. I believe it served its purpose.
For starters, to the vehemently antigun among you, to gain some perspective on how we arrived at this seemingly unsolvable problem, I issue this challenge: Put yourself in a place where your life or safety, or that of a loved one, is in grave danger. Then imagine that place is a sunny peninsula made up of hardworking citizens, self-reliant yet senile old folks, self-described “crackers” (google the etymology of that one if you don’t know it already), ultraviolent face-eating felons, disgustingly rich sociopaths, Miami-Dade County, and the creepiest boiled-brain tweaker weirdos on Earth. Welcome to Florida, population 19 million. Based on my years of experience trolling around with, at turns, some of the most interesting, valiant, and despicable residents of the state, I can assure you that many wholly sensible and productive Floridians of all stripes own guns. And yeah, a lot of scumbags have them, too, and they will shoot you without hesitation if they feel so inclined.
Decorated combat veteran and firearms enthusiast Eddie Cacciola stands in front of an American flag signed by fellow Marines who served with him in the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
One of the good guys is Philadelphia native Eddie Cacciola, a 32-year-old former Marine. Eddie moved to Florida five years ago. Before that, he served as a decorated combat engineer—“like the guys in The Hurt Locker”—during the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Eddie joined the Marines on September 18th, 2001. He was already considering enlisting, but 9/11 made the decision for him. He quit his dream job of running a motorcycle-racing team and importing MVs, Ducatis, and other high-end exotic bikes to fight in Iraq.  
In 2005, Eddie returned from duty to Philadelphia and grew steadily more disenchanted with the War on Terror. “We maybe stuck around too long. People started not appreciating that we were there,” he said as we drove to a local Walmart to buy cheap ammo. “It was kind of a letdown of something that I think started as a good thing.”
Two years after his return to Philadelphia, Eddie moved to Sarasota, Florida, with his then girlfriend, who was from the area. The city’s immaculate white-sand shores include Siesta Beach, rated the top beach in the US in 2011 by “America’s Foremost Beach Expert,” Dr. Beach. It also happens to be my hometown, and I met Eddie through a mutual friend who knew I was planning to write a story from the perspective of responsible and thoughtful gun owners.

Eddie told me that before his time in the Marines he wasn’t much of a “gun person.” He had fired rifles and shotguns at various times while living in Philadelphia, but after his return from Iraq he began to see guns more as tools of life and outlets for recreation.  Like many of his fellow Floridians, he believes in the public’s right to carry and bear arms pretty much wherever they choose. But while Eddie supports or is mostly indifferent to many of the state’s gun laws, he does take issue with one.
“In Florida, you can go ahead and buy, sell, and trade anything—as long as it’s not an illegal weapon,” he said. “You can just find somebody or something that you like, work out a deal with him, meet them in a local parking lot, do a third-grade trade with some money and a gun. Nothing else needed.” Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont are similarly lenient when it comes to these types of transactions.  
Before my visit, a few weeks prior to the 2012 presidential election, I had asked Eddie whether he’d be willing to coordinate a trip out to the range with some of his shooting buddies. He happily obliged, with one caveat: “Get here quickly, because people are stockpiling. They think Obama might get elected again. If we wait too long it might be much harder to get ammo for certain weapons.”
It was the same story propagated in 2008 following Obama’s victory. Many firearms dealers in Florida and throughout the nation reported a massive uptick in background checks, which went from 11.2 million in 2007 to 12.7 million in 2008—a clear indicator that gun sales were spiking. The stockpiling resulted in an ammo shortage that, by February 2009, left many owners frustrated because dealers simply could not keep up with the demand. That month, the Orlando Sentinel reported that 9-mm and .45-caliber bullets for semiautomatic pistols and .38-caliber bullets for revolvers were becoming scarce, and that clerks at Walmarts in Apopka and Kissimmee had confirmed that the aforementioned types of ammo, along with .22-caliber bullets (one of the most common forms of ammunition), were on back order. Floridians, it seemed, were ready to rock ’n’ roll.
This October, a month before the election, background checks for potential gun purchasers nationwide were up 18.4 percent since the same time last year and, just as in 2008, sales of assault rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47 increased after Obama’s victory. Many of the gun dealers and owners quoted in the press said they feared Obama would reinstitute the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, one of the most controversial aspects of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act passed under Clinton in September 1994. The ban relied on a convoluted flowchart to determine which sorts of weapons and accessories were to be made illegal for purchase by the general public.
Thanks to sunset provisions, the law expired in 2004. Since then, lawmakers like Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York have unsuccessfully attempted to reinstitute the ban. Studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other independent studies found that the ban’s effect on violent crimes had been small if negligible. The Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice released a 2004 assessment of the decade-long ban, stating that if it were to be reinstated at a future date, its “effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. [Assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.” A dissenting study carried out by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence alleged data provided by the ATF showed that the proportion of violent crimes in which assault weapons were used dropped from 4.82 to 1.61 percent during the ban. A spokesperson for the ATF later said that his organization could “in no way vouch for the “validity” of that claim. 
While it’s been perfectly legal for the past eight years to buy an AR-15 alongside a $200 aftermarket “bump-fire stock” (which effectively transforms it into a full-auto weapon), gun rights supporters have reason to be fearful of Obama reinstituting some iteration of the Assault Weapons Ban. Obama served as a senator in Illinois, home to what many say are the strictest gun laws in the country. Leading up to his first presidential election, he was cautious but outspoken regarding his opinion that certain types of weapons should not be available to the public. A 2009 Gallup poll reported that as many as 41 percent of Americans believed that Obama, at some point, would “attempt to ban the sale of guns in the United States while he is president”—as in, all guns. And this August, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters that the president fully supported a renewal of the ban.
When prompted with a question about federal firearms laws during the second 2012 presidential debate, Obama said that part of his strategy to curb street violence in America “is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.” This sort of reasoning doesn’t seem to take into account the legal rights of responsible gun owners—hardworking and scrappy folks who fully believe that the right to bear arms is inalienable, at least in America. Regardless of whether a new ban happens or not, the hoarding has already begun.
Continue

With over 270 million guns in America, can anyone win the firearms debate? VICE’s Rocco Castoro examines Florida gun laws to find out.

The original version of this article appeared in the print edition of VICE’s December Hopelessness Issue. It was sent to press two weeks before Friday’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut—one that ripped the heart straight out of America’s chest. An unfortunately timely piece, it has been updated accordingly.

The almost unfathomable national tragedy that happened on December 14th in Newtown, Connecticut, was the latest and most horrific example in a string of mass shootings that have occurred in the United States over the past 30 years. Unfortunately it took the brutal murder of 20 very young students and six of their caretakers at Sandy Hook Elementary School for Americans to truly attempt to wrap their minds around current firearms laws and reflect on the culture that has created them. And this time there will almost certainly be a massive legislative shift on the national level. How pivotal it will be remains to be seen.

However, what the nation will find—if history is any indicator—is that legal solutions to this dilemma will prove unsuccessful. Even worse, further restrictions on firearms may exacerbate the situation. This is because the information and decision-making process that is needed to responsibly unify firearms laws is inherently flawed from within.

There is a very specific reason that people—heroes, monsters, and especially Americans—like guns. It’s the same reason I like guns. I like shooting down a pockmarked range or sandy berm on a cloudy day. I like the feeling of curved metal behind my fingertip, knowing that the world can be forever changed with a simple pull.

My more sensible friends tell me I am this way because I’m a Floridian. And up until recently, I pretended to disagree. But I can no longer deny that they’ve been right all along. Then again, my most sensible friends were not born in Florida.

Growing up in the Sunshine State, I was brought up around guns and taught to respect their power, ensuring that I accepted the full spectrum of responsibility that comes with owning or even holding a firearm. Many of the people who raised me (with the important exception of my mother) felt that it was their duty to teach me the basics of gun safety, in the same way everyone should know how to fix a flat tire. This does not mean I agree with all or even the majority of American firearms laws. And in order to delve into the minutia of one of the most troubling catch-22s of our time, in mid-November I waded through the swampy backwaters of firearms legislation in my home state, which I hoped would serve as a microcosm for the rest of the nation. I believe it served its purpose.

For starters, to the vehemently antigun among you, to gain some perspective on how we arrived at this seemingly unsolvable problem, I issue this challenge: Put yourself in a place where your life or safety, or that of a loved one, is in grave danger. Then imagine that place is a sunny peninsula made up of hardworking citizens, self-reliant yet senile old folks, self-described “crackers” (google the etymology of that one if you don’t know it already), ultraviolent face-eating felons, disgustingly rich sociopaths, Miami-Dade County, and the creepiest boiled-brain tweaker weirdos on Earth. Welcome to Florida, population 19 million. Based on my years of experience trolling around with, at turns, some of the most interesting, valiant, and despicable residents of the state, I can assure you that many wholly sensible and productive Floridians of all stripes own guns. And yeah, a lot of scumbags have them, too, and they will shoot you without hesitation if they feel so inclined.


Decorated combat veteran and firearms enthusiast Eddie Cacciola stands in front of an American flag signed by fellow Marines who served with him in the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom. 

One of the good guys is Philadelphia native Eddie Cacciola, a 32-year-old former Marine. Eddie moved to Florida five years ago. Before that, he served as a decorated combat engineer—“like the guys in The Hurt Locker”—during the first wave of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Eddie joined the Marines on September 18th, 2001. He was already considering enlisting, but 9/11 made the decision for him. He quit his dream job of running a motorcycle-racing team and importing MVs, Ducatis, and other high-end exotic bikes to fight in Iraq.  

In 2005, Eddie returned from duty to Philadelphia and grew steadily more disenchanted with the War on Terror. “We maybe stuck around too long. People started not appreciating that we were there,” he said as we drove to a local Walmart to buy cheap ammo. “It was kind of a letdown of something that I think started as a good thing.”

Two years after his return to Philadelphia, Eddie moved to Sarasota, Florida, with his then girlfriend, who was from the area. The city’s immaculate white-sand shores include Siesta Beach, rated the top beach in the US in 2011 by “America’s Foremost Beach Expert,” Dr. Beach. It also happens to be my hometown, and I met Eddie through a mutual friend who knew I was planning to write a story from the perspective of responsible and thoughtful gun owners.

Eddie told me that before his time in the Marines he wasn’t much of a “gun person.” He had fired rifles and shotguns at various times while living in Philadelphia, but after his return from Iraq he began to see guns more as tools of life and outlets for recreation.  Like many of his fellow Floridians, he believes in the public’s right to carry and bear arms pretty much wherever they choose. But while Eddie supports or is mostly indifferent to many of the state’s gun laws, he does take issue with one.

“In Florida, you can go ahead and buy, sell, and trade anything—as long as it’s not an illegal weapon,” he said. “You can just find somebody or something that you like, work out a deal with him, meet them in a local parking lot, do a third-grade trade with some money and a gun. Nothing else needed.” Alaska, Arizona, and Vermont are similarly lenient when it comes to these types of transactions.  

Before my visit, a few weeks prior to the 2012 presidential election, I had asked Eddie whether he’d be willing to coordinate a trip out to the range with some of his shooting buddies. He happily obliged, with one caveat: “Get here quickly, because people are stockpiling. They think Obama might get elected again. If we wait too long it might be much harder to get ammo for certain weapons.”

It was the same story propagated in 2008 following Obama’s victory. Many firearms dealers in Florida and throughout the nation reported a massive uptick in background checks, which went from 11.2 million in 2007 to 12.7 million in 2008—a clear indicator that gun sales were spiking. The stockpiling resulted in an ammo shortage that, by February 2009, left many owners frustrated because dealers simply could not keep up with the demand. That month, the Orlando Sentinel reported that 9-mm and .45-caliber bullets for semiautomatic pistols and .38-caliber bullets for revolvers were becoming scarce, and that clerks at Walmarts in Apopka and Kissimmee had confirmed that the aforementioned types of ammo, along with .22-caliber bullets (one of the most common forms of ammunition), were on back order. Floridians, it seemed, were ready to rock ’n’ roll.

This October, a month before the election, background checks for potential gun purchasers nationwide were up 18.4 percent since the same time last year and, just as in 2008, sales of assault rifles such as the AR-15 and AK-47 increased after Obama’s victory. Many of the gun dealers and owners quoted in the press said they feared Obama would reinstitute the Federal Assault Weapons Ban, one of the most controversial aspects of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act passed under Clinton in September 1994. The ban relied on a convoluted flowchart to determine which sorts of weapons and accessories were to be made illegal for purchase by the general public.

Thanks to sunset provisions, the law expired in 2004. Since then, lawmakers like Senator Dianne Feinstein of California and Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy of New York have unsuccessfully attempted to reinstitute the ban. Studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other independent studies found that the ban’s effect on violent crimes had been small if negligible. The Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice released a 2004 assessment of the decade-long ban, stating that if it were to be reinstated at a future date, its “effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement. [Assault weapons] were rarely used in gun crimes even before the ban.” A dissenting study carried out by the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence alleged data provided by the ATF showed that the proportion of violent crimes in which assault weapons were used dropped from 4.82 to 1.61 percent during the ban. A spokesperson for the ATF later said that his organization could “in no way vouch for the “validity” of that claim. 

While it’s been perfectly legal for the past eight years to buy an AR-15 alongside a $200 aftermarket “bump-fire stock” (which effectively transforms it into a full-auto weapon), gun rights supporters have reason to be fearful of Obama reinstituting some iteration of the Assault Weapons Ban. Obama served as a senator in Illinois, home to what many say are the strictest gun laws in the country. Leading up to his first presidential election, he was cautious but outspoken regarding his opinion that certain types of weapons should not be available to the public. A 2009 Gallup poll reported that as many as 41 percent of Americans believed that Obama, at some point, would “attempt to ban the sale of guns in the United States while he is president”—as in, all guns. And this August, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told reporters that the president fully supported a renewal of the ban.

When prompted with a question about federal firearms laws during the second 2012 presidential debate, Obama said that part of his strategy to curb street violence in America “is seeing if we can get automatic weapons that kill folks in amazing numbers out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.” This sort of reasoning doesn’t seem to take into account the legal rights of responsible gun owners—hardworking and scrappy folks who fully believe that the right to bear arms is inalienable, at least in America. Regardless of whether a new ban happens or not, the hoarding has already begun.

Continue