Recently President Obama signed twenty three executive orders intended to push his long-expected gun control agenda into action. Yes, the Constitution does grant Presidents certain privileges within the realm of executive action/orders. However the majority of Constitutionalists find it very difficult to believe any Founding Father ever intended or imagined that those privileges would be so broadly and intentionally used to admittedly circumvent the separation of powers and checks and balances that make up the very soul of our democracy. So regardless of where you stand on gun control, please take a moment to consider the unintended future consequences that always result from the pressing of such boundaries, especially when dealing with “Constitutional rights”.
With that said… When it comes to gun control and the specific issue of banning so-called assault rifles, the very sad fact is that most Americans have little to no clue or a radically misinformed idea of what an assault rifle is, and how it differs from other politically correct or acceptable firearms. Having held a Federal Firearms License for over twenty years, a dealership in Southern California and working with and through the prior Clinton Assault Weapons Act, I hope this plain English explanation of the core realities, away from the politics of either side, will help everyone to settle down and come to a reasonable compromise beneficial to the entire country.
To begin with, the biggest misconception is that an assault rifle as portrayed within gun control bills is, what the movies refer to as a “machine gun”, or fully automatic firing military rifle. Wrong!
The simple definition of fully automatic fire or full-auto (aka “rock & roll”) is: the mechanical ability to continuously fire (or cycle) a firearm until the magazine is empty and no cartridges remain. Whereas, semi-automatic or semi-auto fire is: the mechanical ability to fire (or cycle) a single cartridge, expel the empty shell and reload another cartridge, but requires the trigger be released and pulled (cycled) again before the weapon will fire the next round.
In the case of the Obama and Feinstein bans, all the rifles named by make, model, cosmetic and/or accessorized appearance, are in fact “SEMI-auto rifles”. Any mention or listing of full-auto firearms within such a bill is as redundant as it is disingenuous, because the civilian possession of all full-auto firing weapons is already STRICTLY controlled within every State, and by the Federal Government. PERIOD!
The next largest misconception is that what a rifle cosmetically looks like, or by way of the after-market accessories attached to it, can/will fundamentally change the original mechanical operation of the rifle. Factually nothing could be further than the truth. Any claim or expectation that the banning of any firearm solely based upon its cosmetic design, or that said feature could ever realistically have any effect on crime of any kind, is at the least intellectually dishonest. At worst, it is a total fraud! Here’s why:(Please note photo figures A through M as you read)
Under both Obama and Feinstein’s ban, semi-auto rifle figure-A would remain legal to buy and possess. However rifle figure-B would be banned solely due to its accessorized cosmetic appearance, even though both are the exact same make and model, internally mechanically identical, have the same barrel length, take the same ten shot magazine and have the exact same rate of fire. Somehow, it is professed that the cosmetic difference between the two has an effect on criminal behavior. Which is like saying a woman is more likely to cheat on her partner if she possesses a Gucci rather than a Prada handbag.
Now here’s an interesting fact: under the Obama proposed ban rifle figure-C which is presently legal to own would remain legal. And like its cousin figure-B, rifle figure-D would become restricted from purchase or ownership under the Obama ban. However under the Feinstein ban BOTH versions of this rifle (figures-C & D) would be banned by named make and model. Apparently madam Senator believes “We The People” are simply too irresponsible to own or possess either configuration, where President Obama at the least gives us the benefit of the doubt. Go figure.
To further drive the point, lever-action rifle figure-E under both the Obama and Feinstein bans would be legal. However rifle figure-F, even though it has been accessorized with the same ban-specified adjustable stock, tactical foregrip and muzzle accessories as both banned rifles (figures-B & D) above, (because lever-action rifles that can be manually cycled as fast as semi-auto rifles are not included in the ban, and even exempted) under both the Obama and Feinstein bans, both rifles (figures-E & F) would remain ABSOLUTELY LEGAL!
Now what if other products were sought to be banned under the same standards as so-called assault rifles? Where Motorcycle figure-G would be legal. Per the standards as set by the Obama/Feinstein bans, Chopper figure-H would become illegal to own or possess. And once again, VW Bug figure-I would be legal. And Dune Buggy figure-J would be banned & illegal. Everyone beginning to see the pattern here?
Now with the cosmetic differences, realities (and yes hypocrisy) regarding so-called assault rifles understood, let’s take on the President and Senator’s question of: “why would anyone want to own a military assault rifle in the first place?” Really? OK, then:
- Why would anyone want a two-hundred mile per hour sports car such as a Jaguar or Ferrari?
- Why would anyone want a Hustler, Nor-Tech, Donzi or Cigarette speed boat?
- Why would anyone want a Harley-Davidson bagger, a custom Chopper or Ninja ZX-12R?
- Why would anyone want a 4WD Jeep, truck or other off-road capable vehicle?
- Why would anyone want a Class-A Motorhome or luxury travel trailer?
- Why would anyone want a Cessna, Gulfstream or Lear aircraft?
- Why would anyone want a designer purse or pair of shoes that cost more than some state’s educational budget?
Such counter questions can go on forever, but the final answer always comes down to the “Freedom of Choice”! So just where in the Constitution does it grant a President, Senator, member of Congress or anyone else the power to decree that one law abiding American’s AR-15 isn’t another person’s car, boat, motorcycle, RV, fashion accessory or other responsibly owned and enjoyed passion?
As to the proposed national restriction for all firearms magazines, the magic number of seven rounds and how Obama and Feinstein came up with it is highly suspect. Presently only a few firearms (mostly handguns) are designed for and sold with seven or less round magazines. Also having taken their lead from the Clinton Assault Weapons Act, several states (like California) enacted their own ten round magazine restrictions. This in turn prompted the firearms industry to voluntarily produce a sizeable variety of ten round mags to meet the market demand. So for states like California where the effects of a national ten round restriction would be negligible, a seven round restriction would without doubt place an unreasonable, immediate and totally punitive burden of cost upon both shooters and the entire firearms industry. And honestly, does anyone really believe that subtracting three rounds from ten will somehow magically bring about the end to gun involved crime and violence as we know it?
This brings us full circle to our final assault rifle misconception. The totally disingenuous argument that our Forefathers and framers of the Constitution could never foresee today’s advancements in firearms technology and rates of fire. Once again, nothing could be further from the truth. For during those first formative years of our country’s evolution, the Musket of the Revolutionary war (figure-K) that required multiple actions to reload and fire three to four shots per minute, was replaced with a “trapdoor” breech conversion (figure-L). And along with its co-developed self-contained cartridge, reloading and firing rates went from three to four shots per minute, easily up to ten or more by even a moderately trained shooter.
Needless to say, with the trapdoor’s various barrel lengths and cosmetic accessories of the day (figure-M), such rifles factually became the “Assault Rifle” of their era. Yet somehow for hundreds of years to follow, no American politician, bureaucrat or want-to-be potentate even considered restricting the civilian possession or legislative banning of any firearm. So any such argument discounting the ability of our Forefathers to see the future is not only historically incorrect, it's insultingly intellectually fraudulent.
So to recap…
- The cosmetic differences between two like rifles has absolutely no effect on function or firepower.
- The cosmetic differences between two like rifles has absolutely ZERO effect on criminal or psychotic behavior.
- Whether a semi-auto rifle is accessorized or factory designed to look like a military rifle, it is NOT a “machine gun”.
- When the Obama/Feinstein ban standards are applied to other products/machines requiring just as much responsibility to own and operate, such bans lose all credibility.
- And… Gucci handbags are far more dangerous than Prada.