The Times is appalled by murders and terror, and especially appalled by instruments used in the latest act of terror in San Bernardino.
The Times could take some national pride in the fact that we as a nation have made amazing progress in curbing the scourge of gun violence, cutting it nearly in half in the past couple of decades.
But they do not take that tack. Rather, when they get to concrete (sort of) proposals after expressing their dismay with murders and tools that can be used to murder, they declare that “Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.”
If the Times got its way, their confiscation program would almost certainly require a buyback, as in much-lauded Australia. Enormous law enforcement effort and time would have to go into trying to enforce the prohibition as well, if it were to have any meaning.
While the Times is not specific about exactly what weapons it wants to ban and confiscate beyond the specific models used in San Bernardino, Slate did some rough calculations back in 2013 that likely over 3.5 million such rifles or substantially similar ones are in circulation in the U.S.
Such rifles cannot reasonably be expected to be hidden on one’s person and thus ought not give law enforcement any extra reason to search persons moving forward with this new, massively distributed, contraband contaminating America. Still, there would surely be some unpredictable but bad effect in using the power of law enforcement to search people and their property to uncover their now-banned weapons. Our society being what it is, such efforts would likely impact the less-well-off and less well-connected the most, and the most violently.