Calls to reinstate the assault weapons ban ignore the lack of offender accountability that exists

The Star Tribune’s Editorial Board recently called for the reinstatement of the national assault weapons ban. My response is below.

“Time to reinstate assault weapon ban” ignores a glaring gap.

The editorial board’s piece advocating a reinstatement of the assault weapon ban, 12/1/22, is more of the same – emotional arguments to just “do something.” 

Unfortunately, the argument ignores the fact that doing something should be focused on what will work – and as the editorial board itself acknowledges, another law alone cannot be expected to resolve the crisis that is gun violence.

What can work, and what was ignored by the editorial board?  Holding offenders accountable through incarceration, thus preventing those who have already shown their proclivity towards gun violence from the opportunity to re-offend. 

It boggles the mind that this approach is not recognized or prioritized with more regularity.   

In Minnesota alone, between 2015-2020, only half (51.5%) of the offenders who were convicted of using a firearm in commission of their crime were sentenced to the mandatory minimum 3 years in prison as directed by statute.  Even more troubling, of the 48.5% of gun offenders who received a departure from the mandatory sentence, a full third of them (34%) were already on court mandated supervision at the time of their new gun crime.  (Data held by the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines Commission).

We can all agree that gun violence and mass shootings are reprehensible and deserve the strongest of responses from our criminal justice system.

We cannot continue to ignore the failings of our judicial system, and the public safety that would be achieved if we just held accountable the offenders we already have in our grasp. 

Ignoring the huge gap in accountability towards those who have already proven their willingness for gun violence is not the response we deserve.

Emotionally driven arguments that take our eyes off this gap are the definition of illogical, and will continue to serve us poorly.