By January 3, 2013

Fighting Further Gun Control: Week One

AMD-65 AK-47 variant

If the rumors are true, then California Senator Dianne Feinstein will propose the most sweeping firearms control in the history of the American continent. Depending on when you read this article, she may already have.

What We’re Facing

Based on her own Web site, Feinstein may attempt to introduce legislation regulating any or all of the following:

  • Bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of:
    • 120 specifically-named firearms;
    • Certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics; and
    • Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.
  • Strengthens the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban and various state bans by:
    • Moving from a 2-characteristic test to a 1-characteristic test;
    • Eliminating the easy-to-remove bayonet mounts and flash suppressors from the characteristics test; and
    • Banning firearms with “thumbhole stocks” and “bullet buttons” to address attempts to “work around” prior bans.
  • Bans large-capacity ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.
  • Protects legitimate hunters and the rights of existing gun owners by:
    • Grandfathering weapons legally possessed on the date of enactment;
    • Exempting over 900 specifically-named weapons used for hunting or sporting purposes; and
    • Exempting antique, manually-operated, and permanently disabled weapons.
  • Requires that grandfathered weapons be registered under the National Firearms Act, to include:
    • Background check of owner and any transferee;
    • Type and serial number of the firearm;
    • Positive identification, including photograph and fingerprint;
    • Certification from local law enforcement of identity and that possession would not violate State or local law; and
    • Dedicated funding for ATF to implement registration.

I’ve bolded a few things that are particularly troublesome or different from the prior “assault weapon ban.”

What This Means (in small part)

There are many discussions of this plan on the Internet, and suffice it to say I think it is completely ridiculous and won’t do a thing to prevent the violence that supposedly sparked this legislation in the first place. I have yet to hear a logical explanation why a pistol grip on a rifle is any more or less dangerous than a Monte Carlo-style stock.

What the bill will do, however, is convert millions of Americans into potential felons, put an incredibly undue and ineffectual burden on local law enforcement, and crush the already over-taxed NFA branch at the ATF.

Think of it: there are hundreds of millions of firearms in the United States that fall under Feinstein’s proposed ban. Each weapon would require registration with the ATF, and the current paperwork is $200 per firearm. I have four NFA applications with the ATF right now, and they have been in process for over seven months. I have no idea how many NFA items this branch handles per year. However, based on data from NFA Tracker.com, there are less than 15 NFA employees (examiners) handling this and they processed 105,373 applications last year, combined.

The current NFA branch is utterly incapable of handling the avalanche of paperwork that Feinstine’s bill would generate.

If each examiner processes approximately 7025 applications a year, the ATF would have to hire on almost 12,000 more examiners to keep pace.

Explaining my estimate: there are between 250 – 300 million firearms in the United States. While there is no concrete information on the number of weapons covered by Feinstein’s proposal, I estimated 40% of handguns, 30% of rifles and probably 1% of shotguns owned by Americans would fall under the new ban. About 80% of firearms in the United States are handguns or rifles, so I estimated 48 million handguns and 36 million rifles would require NFA registration.

I know Feinstein’s bill proposes “dedicated funding to implement registration,” but coming from someone who hates firearms so much I doubt the bill will have much money to do this properly.

That means that American citizens, who attempt to comply with the law, may submit their information to a government entity that may never process their application.

The result: an effective catch-22 for law abiding Americans. Feinstein’s bill states the grandfathered weapons must be registered with the NFA. That means the paperwork must be complete. It’s not enough to put in your paperwork, it has to come back approved. In addition to the wait time, current NFA applications cost $200 per firearm. I don’t want to get into particulars, but this would be quite expensive for some of us, and perhaps cost prohibitive for many.

And for what? What would this registration have done to prevent a mass murder such as the ones in Connecticut or Colorado? Zero. Because the attributes of the firearm have nothing to do with the person(s) responsible for the incident. Feinstein’s bill, like the AWB before it, concentrates on the tool and not the one who wields it.

The fact is that there are hundreds of millions of firearms in the United States today that are legally and peacefully owned. These mass murders are terrible, but they are a statistical minority.

What isn’t a statistical minority, is the prevalence of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medication prescribed to these killers. SSRI Stories collates murders and mass murders wherein the perpetrator was either on, or supposed to be on, SSRI meds.

If Feinstein’s bill is about curbing gun violence, and especially the kinds of mass murders that took place in Connecticut, then why aren’t SSRI medications or other mental health issues mentioned? At all? I wonder how many members of Congress, and/or their families, are on SSRI medication. Over 10% of Americans are taking SSRIs, so that’s a pretty decent bet. Wouldn’t want to face the woman in the mirror, eh Feinstein?

Feinstein’s bill has nothing to do with curbing gun violence, and everything to do with controlling what firearms Americans already legally and peacefully own.

So what are we going to do about it? — This week:

Contact your state representatives and senators and let them know you don’t support any form of gun control suggested by Feinstein or her ilk.

Once we know more about the specific legislation introduced we can contact those representatives again with specific feedback. Until then, however, this is what I am saying:

Hello, my name is [$yourName]. I live in [$yourTown], and I am a registered voter in your district.

I am contacting you today to urge you to NOT support any increased gun control legislation. California Senator Dianne Feinstein may introduce an “assault weapon ban” that will do nothing to prevent incidents such as the mass murder Connecticut by a person who was mentally ill.

Millions of Americans legally and peacefully own hundreds of millions of firearms that Feinstein is about to campaign against. These firearms are lawfully and peacefully used by an incredibly high percentage of Americans. As a public safety and health issue, the assault weapons Feinstein speaks of constitute a more minor risk per capita than motor vehicles, tobacco, alcohol, or prescription drugs.

Please fight against any attempt to further regulate firearms, magazines, clips, or ammunition. The current background check system in [$yourState] prevents almost all firearms from being purchased illegally, and the number of violent offenders who use assault weapons is so low as to be statistically insignificant.

I urge you to decline to support any increased gun control in [$yourState] or at the federal level.

Thank you,
[$yourName]

Find your Congressional House of Representative here, your state Senators here, and don’t forget to contact your state representatives as well.

Call or email all of them this week.

Based on what Feinstein puts forth we’ll revise our response next week.

Please contact your government representatives. Most of us own and train with firearms to add a layer of self-sufficiency in our lives. Don’t expect someone else to this fight on your behalf. If you sit on your hands regarding any impending gun legislation, you deserve what you get.

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14 Comments on "Fighting Further Gun Control: Week One"

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  1. Josh Smith says:

    Shared!

  2. BushPutin says:

    Not arguing for or against anything, I see the valid point, no we should make people who aren’t criminals actually criminals because they purchased something when it was legal. Also agreed on SSRI.

    Just one question, because I feel like I’ll get an honest response. Why does a private citizen _need_ to have assault weapons?

    -BushPutin

  3. BushPutin says:

    er….shouldn’t make people criminals ….

  4. DrFaulken says:

    Hi BushPutin :D

    Good question, and here are my top three answers. I’ve selected these as my best opinion for three branches of argument: legal, ethical, and physical.

    Legal: The Constitution as it stands allows for the common citizenry to possess arms in the event they need to be organized into a militia. This is already being defied by current Class 3 legislation, but that’s for another post. Anyway, the Second Amendment does not specify if this militia is to be a federal, state, local, or private, just that it needs to be well equipped. I interpret this to mean that the typical small arms available to infantry should be legally obtainable by the citizenry. This does not mean atomic weapons or tanks — think of what foot soldiers typically carry day in and day out while in deployment.

    Ethical: I am a libertarian in spirit, if not in direct political affiliation. One of the key tenets is that people should be free to do as they please as long as it does not fragrantly infringe upon the rights of others at a wholesale level. For example, I don’t drink, smoke tobacco, etc. However, as long as these things are enjoyed responsibly I do not have a problem with them.

    The spirit of my thinking is: even though I don’t drink, why should I deny others as long as they are responsible? There are more people killed by alcohol-related incidents than firearms (and certainly more than assault rifles) but I know that my friends and family who DO drink do it responsibly.

    Lastly, flip the question on its end: why SHOULDN’T someone be free to legally and responsibly own an assault rifle? Statistically, the vast majority of assault rifles are used safely and responsibly, something like 99.997%.

    Physically: The assault weapon is employed by civilians and military alike because it is very effective for its designed role. Looting and rioting can and will occur in the United States. These events are often dangerous, and a firearm that most consider solely for “hunting” (bolt-action, limited capacity, etc) are not the best choices for defense, especially if someone is built like Sedagive? (short and petite) or has children to protect and are less mobile than those operating alone.

    I would also like to cite examples such as Rosewood, Florida, which was besieged by a racist mob in the 1920s. Rumors of a raping of a white woman by “a black man” caused whites from a nearby town to storm Rosewood, killing some of its citizens. Several men from Rosewood, former military and now civilians, used their M1903 Springfield rifles to defend the town long enough for the rest of the residents to escape. The town was later burned to the ground. The woman later recanted that she was raped, by a black person or otherwise. It was all for nothing.

    Rosewood is a (fairly) modern example of free, responsible men legally using the assault weapons of their day to defend themselves and their communities against overwhelming domestic aggression.

    Let me know if you have any other questions, or if I was unclear in my response. Thanks for asking the question :)

  5. Bond says:

    Is it not the same as, why should people own dogs that can kill someone? Why have cars that go over 70 mph (national speed limit). Why sell alcohol and cigarettes that are absolutely lethal? Why legalize Marijuana? Why have “no helmet” motorcycle laws? Why allow gambling? Why allow people to skydive or swim with sharks or practice other dangerous hobbies? Why allow Americans to criticize Islam and in turn have Americans killed over seas due to the reaction?

    The reason is because liberty and responsibility go hand-in-hand, but when someone abuses one of these things, you don’t instantly strip away liberties for everyone. It’s not a two-way relationship. Should we get rid of the first amendment (the right to free speech) when someone takes it too far and people are killed or hurt?

    What non-gun owners don’t understand is that banning guns using the “why do you need that” excuse is just a slippery slope to taking away any liberty using “why do you need that”.

    Give me liberty or give me death.

  6. BushPutin says:

    Really? ‘Cuz freedom?

    Last time I looked you couldn’t gun down thirty people in 60 seconds with a joint. You’re conflating several different things.

    Last time I looked you couldn’t kill 30 people in 60 seconds with a joint.

  7. BushPutin says:

    That said, I have a longer response to Dr. Faulken, but I have to put it together in salient points…

    • DrFaulken says:

      Bond distills this issue down to one point. Yes, this issue is completely about freedom, and the ability to remain free.

      If the desire is to keep people safe from statistical harm, then the things Bond mentioned are far more dangerous. Anyone who drinks a beer and calls for gun control in the name of public safety is both a hypocrite and an idiot.

      BushPutin, if you want to email me your opinion I will definitely read it. However, this thread isn’t about assault weapons – it’s about fighting gun control.

  8. BushPutin says:

    Hmmm…Ok. Let’s keep the thread to the topic.

    Bad legislation is exactly that. Bad. However, I think there is a place, and a possibility, for good legislation here.

    Asking someone to prove that they are, or will be, responsible gun owners through education and awareness doesn’t seem to be a bad idea.

    Outlawing specific things about guns (pistol grips, magazine size, etc.) and then bilking people who purchased something when it was legal seems silly and counter to any point trying to be made for ‘gun control’.

    False equivalencies and raising arguments to the absurd definitely won’t help, i.e., I won’t compare your ownership of small arms to nuclear weapons and tanks if you don’t compare it to owning a dog or sky diving. Those are all separate issues.

    I think, however, that knee jerk reactions to terrible situations is really the more dangerous thing. It immediately taints any conversation that could otherwise be had between reasonable people who have a different opinion.

    I think that if someone _really_ wants to do harm they will. I don’t believe that the expediency of using a fire arm is the _cause_. Perhaps the ease of acquisition, might be, but I doubt it.

    I did ask why someone needs and assault rifle and, while I’m not satisfied that someone does _need_ one, I’m not asking that they then be banned from ever owning one. It was more a general question, and a badly phrased one at that.

    That said, I think that, the real thing that needs to be addressed is how to spot, avoid and help people who are just plane fucking crazy. Not the needless persecution of people who want to exercise their rights. This goes for all things.

    -BP

  9. Bond says:

    It’s almost funny (if it wasn’t so sad) that I’ve yet to hear a major news outlet or politician ask the question “what can we do to stop people from committing the act, or wanting to.” Instead they find the first inanimate object to blame or right to take away.

    I gambled my money away because the slot machine made me. I became impotent and brain-dead, it’s pot’s fault. I’m fat because of McDonalds.

    I have an idea, how bout we be responsible for our actions and those of our friends and loved-ones.

  10. BushPutin says:

    I completely second that notion.

  11. BushPutin says:

    Although I will say that a ‘database of insane lunatics’ as offered by the NRA is just as sad and depressing…

  12. Selki says:

    I really appreciate the thought you put into these posts and comments, and the useful links you include to further information. I’ve passed some of them on at times, such as the Rosewood link, tonight.

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