New York, Maryland and some other states (all governed by Presidential aspirants, by the way) have gotten a lot of attention for their newly passed or proposed gun regulations, but how do the other laboratories of democracy regulate guns? The Guardian has a great graphic detailing everything from the stand-your-ground laws to the gun-show loophole, by state:
Check out the full feature. They’ve got a lot more information than you can see just in my snippet. In terms of graphic design, let me just say how refreshing it is to see state-level data presented in some way other than the tired old map: instead of distorting everything by land area, their graphic scales by population. It’s clever.
Of course, nothing is getting as much attention as the new proposals from the President. The New York Times has illustrated several of the key proposals requiring Congressional action. Here’s one, for example:
They also illustrate the ammunition magazine limits under discussion, and diagram the issue of background checks.
In an accompanying article, the Times points to the obvious difficulty of legally defining an assault weapon. As the Guardian and the Times illustrate, the proposals tend to focus on the size of magazines and various military characteristics.
Here’s my question: if we’re going to ban the manufacture and sale of certain weapons on the grounds that their capacity is too dangerous, why not focus the definition directly on their capacity? Trying to itemize certain features will only invite clever work-arounds. A more direct definition might prohibit any weapon that meets one of the following criteria:
- capable of discharging more than X bullets in one second
- capable of discharging more than 20X bullets in one minute
- capable of exerting more than Y newtons in a single discharge
- capable of penetrating more than Z cm of a defined material from a certain distance
Is there some reason that I’m not seeing why it’s preferable to itemize a list of features?