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Kashmeri: Assault Weapons Ban

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I had been inspired by the successful buy-back program run by the Los Angeles Police Department last December. In one day more than two thousand firearms were purchased in this no-questions-asked program run by one of the country's most innovative police departments. The guns they purchase are melted down and destroyed.

In answer to the concern that the guns bought back and destroyed might include guns used in a crime, the LAPD insists that the significant benefits from its program of getting guns off its streets far outweigh the slim chance that one of the weapons destroyed may have been used in a crime.

In fact, the LAPD is now seeing tangible results from its buy-back program. Its officers find fewer guns when responding to domestic-violence incidents in which a Los Angeles ordinance requires police-officers to temporarily confiscate firearms. Apparently, some of the parties in these households have already decided it's too dangerous to continue owning firearms. And I'm convinced that even if hunters or target shooters like me wouldn't want to sell our guns, many others who have a gun just lying around and don't know how to get rid of it might.

Now in the wake of the brazen killings a few days ago of a District Attorney and his wife, in their Texas home by a killer armed with assault weapons, I'm also ready to propose that the buyback program favor the removal of assault weapons from American streets. Together with legislation to ban assault weapon ownership and make using them in a crime punishable by a mandatory 25 year jail sentence, the buyback program could well succeed in eliminating most of the 3 million assault weapons in circulation. Sen. Diane Feinstein's bill that exempts hundreds of assault weapons and allows those who already possess one to keep them, is still going nowhere in the Senate. So I think we should restart the thinking on these weapons and aim high.

After all, when the government wanted to ban machine-guns in the 1930s, nobody talked about exempting some of them, or allowing existing owners of machine guns to keep their lethal firearms. Today nobody laments the disappearance of machine-guns from the American closet.

There is a reason the LAPD and virtually every police department in the country wants to eliminate assault weapons from the streets. Police officers are increasingly outgunned and must fight back with one arm tied behind their back because while the criminals can spray city streets with bullets, the police have to worry about innocent bystanders.

So enough of gun-legislation half-measures. It's high time for legislators to put the safety of our police-officers, and the mayhem in American homes and streets before concerns about the consequences of opposing the gun-lobby. I can assure them there are many gun owners like me who would like to see strong regulations on firearms... now.