The New York Post Editorial Board on Sunday published an open letter to President Donald Trump calling for an assault weapons ban.
The Post, a Rupert Murdoch-owned publication that media observers have generally classified as leaning conservative, made the plea to Trump following a weekend of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio that left 29 dead and dozens more injured.
The Post’s front page on Monday teased the editorial with a splashy headline: “Ban Weapons of War” and “President Trump, America is scared and we need bold action,” it read.
Meanwhile, the Post’s opinion section editor, Sohrab Ahmari, promoted the piece through a tweet, in which he averred that “Military-grade weapons should have no place in our streets.”
Ahmari is known for rejecting more moderate brands of conservatism, such as that purportedly advocated by conservative writer David French.
Military-grade weapons should have no place in our streets.
In a historic cover editorial, the NYPost comes out in favor of banning assault weapons. Now.https://t.co/ZYOVSFzZVR
— Sohrab Ahmari (@SohrabAhmari) August 5, 2019
“America is terrified,” reads the editorial. “Come up with answers. Now. Beginning with the return of an assault-weapons ban.”
“We know: That label doesn’t actually describe a clear class of guns. And that some studies show that the last ban, in effect from 1994 to 2004, had a limited impact,” the editorial adds. “But that simply means the next ban should be better written, with a clear definition focused on factors like firepower — rate of fire, muzzle velocity, etc. — not on cosmetic features.”
The Post’s editorial team argues that such a ban would pass Constitutional muster, claiming that assault weapons are not commonly used for purposes other than mass murder.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that the Second Amendment protects the right to own ‘guns in common use.’ That doesn’t cover the semiautomatic weapons regularly used only in mass shootings,” the editorial reads. “This ban would only be part of the response: Keep improving background checks, find wiser approaches to mental health, get every state to pass a red-flag law (do a federal one, too, even if issuing these restraining orders is mainly the job of state courts).”
Conservatives hit back against New York Post call to ban assault weapons
Support for assault weapons bans has generally been the province of liberals. And conservatives, historically known for their defense of the Second Amendment and gun rights, have already taken aim at the Post’s editorial.
Writing for National Review, another right-leaning publication, editor Charles C.W. Cooke called the Post’s piece “nonsensical” in a scathing rebuttal published on Monday.
Responding to the Post’s call to ban guns based upon “a clear definition focused on factors like firepower — rate of fire, muzzle velocity, etc. — not on cosmetic features,” Cooke averred that the only features distinguishing an “assault weapon” from a common hunting rifle are cosmetic in nature.
“But there is a reason that both state-level bans and the now-expired 1994 federal ban were cosmetic in nature, and that reason is that the sorts of rifles that the Post wants banned do not differ either in their ‘rate of fire’ or ‘muzzle velocity’ from the sorts of guns that the Post does not want to ban,” Cooke argued.
“The AR-15 and AK-47 — the guns used in Dayton and El Paso respectively — both have exactly the same “rate of fire” as does every other semi-automatic firearm on sale in America,” Cooke added. “By the same token, to build a ban around “muzzle velocity” would be to prohibit almost all of the standard hunting rifles that gun-controllers say they have no interest in prohibiting.”
Cooke also took issue with the Post’s claim that the AR-15 is not in “common use,” pointing out that it is the “most popular rifle in America.”
“[T]here are between 8 and 15 million of them in private hands,” he wrote. “The idea that they are used ‘only in mass shootings’ is so preposterous as to defy belief — akin in silliness to suggesting that the Ford F-150 is used ‘only in hit and runs.'”