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'Assault weapon' bans punish the disabled--and everyone else

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The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that "More disabled people oppose assault-weapon restrictions." The reason for that opposition is that the very same ergonomic features (pistol grip stocks, vertical foregrips, etc.) that the gun ban jihadists (the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, for example) demonize as "too lethal" for ownership by mere private citizens can make the difference between a physically disabled person being able to exercise his Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms, and abject disarmament. From the LA Times article:

"They're banning these weapons for arbitrary reasons — because it has a certain grip or stock — when in reality those are the features that someone with a disability like me needs to operate a firearm," said Scott Ennis, a hemophiliac who started the Connecticut-based disabled firearm-owners group and serves as its president. Like Foti, Ennis suffered joint damage that makes it difficult for him to grip and shoot.

As a wheelchair-bound paraplegic (and owner of multiple so-called "assault weapons"), this correspondent is quite familiar with the issue. Indeed, this column has noted that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has chosen to decree that adding a handle to a handgun (useful for someone in my condition) is a "crime," worthy of a 10-year prison sentence and quarter million dollar fine. Why? Because the Gun Control Act defines a handgun as "designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand," and that therefore, "ATF has long held that by installing a vertical fore grip on a handgun, the handgun is no longer designed to be held and fired by the use of a single hand." Never mind that there are very few (if any) self-defense instructors who do not advocate using both hands to fire a handgun.

The most useful information provided by the LA Times article is the existence of a new gun rights organization: Disabled Americans for Firearms Rights (they also have a Facebook page and Twitter feed). They are one of the groups suing the state of Connecticut over the state's oppressive new gun ban, and their unique angle--that such bans discriminate against the disabled--could prove to be a useful advantage.

It must be made very clear that the intent here is not in any way to argue that the disabled should get a special pass on restrictive gun laws--laws that the able-bodied would be required to obey. We are not seeking some new kind of "Only One" status.

This column has in fact noted, quoting an article in the Tulsa World, that an experienced homicide detective in Tulsa acknowledges that because he does not get much range time, his handgun shooting scores are "very marginal" (so much for the myth that the police are the "Only Ones" qualified to carry and use firearms safely), but the story is very different with an AR-15:

"It's an easy gun to shoot," [Tulsa Police Sergeant Dave Walker] said of the assault rifle. "I'm not a guy who shoots a lot. My handgun scores are very marginal. But I can shoot a .223 round 100 percent at a qualifying course with that gun up to 100 yards."

Sergeant Walker is presumably an able-bodied man, but he too is much more effectively armed with a so-called "assault weapon" (although some would have us call them "patrol rifles" when in cops' hands) than with a handgun.

In a very real sense, those advocating "assault weapon" bans--for either the disabled or the able-bodied--are trying to outlaw accurate shooting. Evidently, they care no more for innocent bystanders than for gun owners.

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