DEBATE THIS: Should Assault Weapons Be Banned In The United States?

Debates

THE FACTS: The right of all Americans to keep and bear arms is enshrined in the Second Amendment of the Constitution. And bear them we have — an estimated 300 million guns exist in the United States, nearly enough for every man, woman, and child to each have one. From 1994–2004, federal law banned semi-automatic weapons with certain features and capabilities. Guns are a big part of American culture, but as a society, have we crossed a line? Terrible mass shootings riddle the news cycle and corners of this country are plagued by gun violence. America was reminded of this fact just recently, when a gunman opened fire at a community college in Roseburg, Oregon; killing nine and wounding nine more. Should we rethink what kinds of guns are in the hands of everyday Americans? Should America ban assault weapons?

Shawn VanDiver President, VanDiver ConsultingU.S. Navy, 2001–2013@shawnjvandiver

Not only do I believe we should ban assault weapons, we need to define them more broadly. I propose we define "assault weapons" as any semi-automatic weapon capable of firing rounds size 9mm or higher, to include shotguns, with a magazine capacity higher than 10. I believe this because whether for hunting, home defense, or sport, civilians do not need more than 10 rounds to accomplish the mission. Regardless of this ban, we should require a minimum of background checks, mental health screening, and firearms safety and employment training (on a five-year recurring cycle).

Many opponents will say that criminals don't follow the law, which is true. However, most of the shootings we are seeing in the news are not being committed with firearms obtained illegally. These are weapons that are being purchased legally either by the shooter or someone close to the shooter. Almost invariably, we find that the shooter is suffering from some sort of mental illness and that there had been warning signs. The efforts listed above would make some progress on the issue, without being overly restrictive or violating the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment states that the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, but gives the reason to maintain a well-regulated militia. It does not say that citizens should be able to keep and bear any and all type of arms. Further, the training and screening requirements would go very far to keep the militia well-regulated.

Billy Birdzell Host, Remington Country TVU.S. Marine Corps, 2001–2008

Yesterday's ideas will not solve tomorrow's problems, especially those we've already tried, and seen fail. From 1994 to 2004, assault weapons were banned in the United States via federal law. In 2013, Eric Holder's Department of Justice concluded, "A Complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides." Last year, the New York Times and the Center for American Progress agreed with the Justice Department's conclusions. For some perspective, in 2013, 285 people were killed with rifles, 1,490 were stabbed to death and 5,782 were murdered with handguns. As far as mass shootings, the largest in American history was committed with a handgun, as was the attack on Gabby Giffords along with the massacre at Ft. Hood.

Assault weapons, which are semi-automatic and function the same way as a pistol, absolutely, positively have legitimate civilian uses that range from self-defense to sport. Obviously, the naysayers fail to mention that virtually every firearm ever devised was originally designed for the military, such as the now-traditional lever and bolt-action rifles.
If we are to address persistent issues, especially those that disproportionately affect minorities and our most at-risk communities, reason, research and respect for rights must trump emotion and debunked political memes. Gun violence has more to do with education and economic opportunities than a specific kind of weapons technology. It's time for us to move beyond failed policies and regulate guns for reasons other than their appearance.

Army recruiters hold a swearing-in ceremony for over 40 of Arkansas' Future Soldiers at the Arkansas State Capital Building. (U.S. Army/Amber Osei)

Though the Army has yet to actually set an official recruiting goal for this year, leaders are confident they're going to bring in more soldiers than last year.

Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, head of Army Recruiting Command, told reporters on Wednesday that the Army was currently 2,226 contracts ahead of where it was in 2019.

"I will just tell you that this time last year we were in the red, and now we're in the green which is — the momentum's there and we see it continuing throughout the end of the year," Muth said, adding that the service hit recruiting numbers in February that haven't been hit during that month since 2014.

Read More
(U.S. Marine Corps photo)

Editor's Note: The following is an op-ed. The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Task & Purpose.

We are women veterans who have served in the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps. Our service – as aviators, ship drivers, intelligence analysts, engineers, professors, and diplomats — spans decades. We have served in times of peace and war, separated from our families and loved ones. We are proud of our accomplishments, particularly as many were earned while immersed in a military culture that often ignores and demeans women's contributions. We are veterans.

Yet we recognize that as we grew as leaders over time, we often failed to challenge or even question this culture. It took decades for us to recognize that our individual successes came despite this culture and the damage it caused us and the women who follow in our footsteps. The easier course has always been to tolerate insulting, discriminatory, and harmful behavior toward women veterans and service members and to cling to the idea that 'a few bad apples' do not reflect the attitudes of the whole.

Recent allegations that Secretary of Veterans Affairs Robert Wilkie allegedly sought to intentionally discredit a female veteran who reported a sexual assault at a VA medical center allow no such pretense.

Read More
In this June 16, 2018 photo, Taliban fighters greet residents in the Surkhroad district of Nangarhar province, east of Kabul, Afghanistan, (AP Photo/Rahmat Gul)

KABUL/WASHINGTON/PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - The United States and the Taliban will sign an agreement on Feb. 29 at the end of a week long period of violence reduction in Afghanistan, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and the Taliban said on Friday.

Read More
A U.S. Army UH-60L Black Hawk crew chief with the New Jersey National Guard's 1-171st General Support Aviation Battalion stands for a portrait at the Army Aviation Support Facility on Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., Feb. 3, 2020 (Air National Guard photo / Master Sgt. Matt Hecht)

Active-duty service members, Reservists and National Guard members often serve side-by-side performing highly skilled and dangerous jobs, such as parachuting, explosives demolition and flight deck operations.

Reservists and Guard members are required to undergo the same training as specialized active-duty troops, and they face the same risks. Yet the extra incentive pay they receive for their work — called hazardous duty incentive pay — is merely a fraction of what their active-duty counterparts receive for performing the same job.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by U.S. Rep. Andy Kim, D-3 of Moorestown, are partnering on legislation to correct the inequity. Known as the Guard and Reserve Hazard Duty Pay Equity Act, the bill seeks to standardize payment of hazardous duty incentive pay for all members of the armed services, including Reserve and National Guard components.

Read More
A screen grab from a YouTube video shows Marines being arrested during formation at Camp Pendleton in July, 2019. (Screen capture)

Editor's Note: This article by Gina Harkins originally appeared on Military.com, a leading source of news for the military and veteran community.

Another Marine was hit with jail time and a bad-conduct discharge in connection with a slew of arrests made last summer over suspicions that members of a California-based infantry battalion were transporting people who'd crossed into the U.S. illegally.

Read More