Gun control: a reply - Jay Maynard

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Sunday, 13 October 2002

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1946 - Gun control: a reply

michaelmink posted a long discussion about the legitimacy of gun control in his journal. I've collected

I agree with his analysis all the way until point 6. There's where we part company.

6) "Assault rifles", as currently defined, are indistinguishable, functionally, from many "legitimate" hunting rifles. They're no more than semiautomatic rifles with a few cosmetic characteristics that make them look mean and nasty, but at the core, they don't do anything different: fire one round when the user pulls the trigger one time, then automatically make themselves ready to fire the next round. Thus, the distinctions made in the 1994 "assault weapons ban" amount to nothing more than an ugly gun ban.

As it happens, what the public has been misled (actively: there were documented cases of media discussing the "assault weapons" to be banned and showing something else entirely!) into believing are "assault weapons" actually are not. There is no such thing as an "assault weapon" in military parlance. There is a closely related term, "assault rifle", but a true assault rifle is still legal to purchase! Assault rifles are, specifically, fully automatic weapons such as the M-16. Not a single one was outlawed in 1994.

(BTW, Jack Brooks could have stopped that ban cold; as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, the whole thing was squarely in his control, and he could have stopped it at any point until the conference committee reported the bill out. When I called his office (I was a constituent at the time) to express my anger that he'd allowed the ban to remain, the staffer I spoke to told me that I'd better vote for him that fall or else I'd get Schumer as his replacement on the Judiciary Committee, and that would be even worse for gun owners. Surprise!)

It's further worth noting that the Firearms Act of 1934 (or thereabouts; I don't recall the exact year) was upheld by the Supreme Court in its only real test because nobody pointed out that sawed-off shotguns are military weapons (the defendant in the case had died after the Court had agreed to hear the case, but before arguments were presented); the Court reasoned that, since it was "beyond judicial notice" that that was the case, regulating them did not violate the Second Amendment. The Court was incorrect, as they were widely used as trench weapons in WWI, and still favored in the military today as a close-in people killer. Therefore, by the Court's reasoning, any weapon of military utility falls within the protection of the Second Amendment.

7) I'll take this in two pieces. First off, EVERY time gun registration has been imposed, gun confiscation has followed. One need only ask the British and Australians about that, as well as the Germans in the 1930s: gun registration was one of the first things Hitler did when he rose to power. There's no reason to believe that things would be any different here.

As for the idea of "ballistic fingerprinting", such a database would be fundamentally useless. The distinctive wear marks on bullets that are made during their passage through a rifled gun barrel change over the life of a gun due to many, many conditions. Further, unlike human fingerprints, ballistic fingerprints can be changed fairly easily and enough to defeat any ballistic comparison. It also is completely useless when applied to shotguns and other smoothbore weapons, which do not leave such ballistic fingerprints (and, for shotguns, there's nothing to leave the fingerprint on). Finally, implementing such a requirement on new guns when there are nearly 300 million existing guns which would be outside such a scheme is nothing less than profoundly silly.

As for his final thoughts:

1) Gun owners are the only group it is acceptable for liberals to hate. There is a growing argument that gun owners need to come out of the closet in much the same way that gay advocates believe GLBT people should, and for the same reasons. My own beliefs on the latter are changing, but I'm not quiet about my ownership of firearms. (As anyone who's spoken to me for any length of time on the subject will agree.)

2) I hadn't heard about the original intent of gun control laws being for the oppression of blacks myself until I started digging, but the evidence is out there on the net. It's worth researching.

No slit trenches needed here. As long as any licensing regime is totally nondiscretionary, cannot be used surrepetitiously by bureaucrats as a way to deny people the right to keep and bear arms, and is not merely a way to sneak registration in the back door, I have little problem with it - just like I have little problem with driver licensing.

current mood: [mood icon] thoughtful

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