The weapon used to kill five Dallas police officers Thursday evening was reported to have been an SKS semi-automatic rifle, a type that was designed in the 1940s and used widely by soldiers in the former Soviet Union and China, as reported by the Controversial Times. At the time the SKS semi-automatic rifle was first produced, it was a state-of-the art assault weapon. Today, the SKS semi-automatic is reported to be deemed, by at least some gun industry observers, such as the Crime Prevention Research Center, to be “not an assault weapon.”
The Controversial Times reports that the SKS semi-automatic was not subject to the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which expired as the result of a “sunset clause” in 2004, as reported by Smart Gun Laws. Definitions vary from state to state, but several use the presence of design features like “pistol grip, forward vertical grip” and “removable magazine” as evidence that a rifle is an assault weapon or not.
It would seem that the SKS semi-automatic would not be subject to the type of new legislation supported by Democratic presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ban assault weapons. Senator Bernie Sanders has also supported a ban on assault weapons that would likely not include the SKS semi-automatic.
Republican Donald Trump’s views on an assault weapons ban appear to fluctuate between challenging those who “try to come up with scary-sounding phrases like “assault rifle'” and suggesting that some “assault weapons” should be banned, as reported by PBS. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump has no track record, being a political outsider, in supporting gun control legislation.
It is likely that under the presidency of the currently most viable candidates, Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton, there would be little chance of SKS semi-automatic rifles being banned in the United States. Perhaps notably, in Canada, well known for its strict gun control legislation, the AR-15 is restricted, as reported by Gun Owners Resource, while the SKS semi-automatic is considered to be a “standard hunting rifle,” and is available to those who possess common firearms licenses, as reported by The Survivalist Blog.
“When people are armed with powerful weapons, unfortunately it makes attacks like these more deadly and tragic,” U.S. President Barack Obama was quoted by Controversial Times. “In the days ahead we’re going to have to consider those realities.”
In the wake of the Orlando mass shooting, Gretchen Carlson, formerly of Fox News, spoke about how an emotionally disturbed person having such easy access to, in that case, a Sig Sauer MCX, an AR-15-style assault rifle, led to 49 innocent people losing their lives.
“There’s no doubt that… was able to kill so many people because he was firing an AR-15,” Gretchen states. “A weapon easier to buy in the state of Florida than buying a handgun.”
In Florida, there is no waiting period to buy assault rifles and any guns designed to be fired with “two hands.” Handgun purchases, by comparison, are subject to a three-day waiting period.
Carlson cited President Obama’s support for reinstating the federal assault weapons ban and a December 2015 poll conducted by Quinnipiac University that found that a majority, 58 percent, of respondents supported reinstating the ban, while 38 percent were against it.
“Do we need AR-15s to hunt and kill deer?” Gretchen Carlson asks. “Do we need them to protect our families?”
Tragically, even legislation enacted in countries known for their strict gun control stance would have failed to stop the perpetrator of the Dallas police shooting from acquiring an SKS semi-automatic and shooting 12 officers on Thursday evening.