Friday, The New York Times opined that the NRA hid from public view in the wake of the Newton, Connecticut shooting. There is no doubt that the Times is biased against human rights, with an entire column dedicated to “the epidemic of violence in the United States and explores the possible solutions.”
It’s a bold proposition, first that we are in an epidemic, and then, once you realize all the articles are about banning guns and concealed carry, that the column is anything but propaganda.
The author, unnamed on The New York Times website, writes, with the intent to be ironic, “the N.R.A., which devotes itself to destroying compromise on guns, is blameless. So are unscrupulous and unlicensed dealers who sell guns to criminals, and gun makers who bankroll Mr. LaPierre so he can help them peddle ever-more-lethal, ever-more-efficient products, and politicians who kill even modest controls over guns.”
I’d like to take a look at two components of this argument: “compromise,” and “ever-more-lethal, ever-more-efficient products.”
First, the current laws represent compromise. Let’s look at the limits that have been set on firearms.
The 1934 National Firearms act was passed to register the types of guns commonly used by the mafia including “machine” guns (fully automatic weapons) and short barreled shotguns. After the law was dismantled by the Supreme Court it was re written, and the Gun Control Act of 1968 currently regulates NFA items, including machine guns, short barreled rifles, short barreled shotguns, silencers, and a category that includes grenades, bombs, missiles, and poison gas among others. All of these weapons are subject to an added tax and must be registered. Machine guns and such could be purchased after this date so long as the fee was paid and the weapon was properly documented.
In 1968 congress also banned mail-order firearms sales. At this time, the Federal Firearms License became a requirement to deal in or manufacture firearms. There are numerous types of FFL, from type 1, which allows a dealer to sell class III (NFA) firearms excluding the grenades, bombs etc. category. States may further regulate who can own class III items, so Utah, for example, allow civilians with the license to own machine guns, silencers and short barreled weapons while Iowa and Illinois do not.
In 1986 the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act was instated to protect FFL holders from abusive investigation by the ATF, allowed owners to pass through states where their guns were illegal, so long as they were going to a state where the gun was legal, and also banned the sale of machine guns manufactured after the date of enactment. This was when future sales of “weapons of war,” were banned. Current proposals are intent on banning non National Firearms Regulated guns. There are approximately 175,000 machine guns registered with the ATF, and under current law, this number will not increase in America.
In 2008 the Supreme Court ruled in the District of Columbia v. Heller that the Federal District of Columbia could not ban the ownership of a handgun for the purpose of self-defense. In 2010 that right was extended to the states in McDonald v. City of Chicago.
So, has the NRA destroyed compromise? It is hard to stomach that concept when the so called “gangster” weapons – machine guns, short barreled rifles and shotguns have been regulated and closely tracked since 1934. No newly manufactured machine guns can be sold to civilians since 1986. That sounds like compromise to me. We have set reasonable outer limits – our speed limit 65. What we need to regulate is “reckless driving” inside of that outer limit, something that is much harder to do.
I think this discussion also addresses the claim that gun stores are selling “ever-more-lethal, ever-more-efficient products.” The more lethal were regulated beginning in 1934. The sale of new machine guns was ceased in 1986. If they were selling “ever more lethal” weapons you’d have to get past the RPGs and grenades to look at a rifle or pistol.
After the Virginia Tech shooting the college campus where I worked underwent training in best practices regarding managing risk. Everything focused on student attitude, behavior, conduct, and proper processes for reporting and follow-up. This is the difficult process we need to focus on to increase safety and to resolve issues before they rise to the level of violence.
Where I see a slippery slope in current regulatory proposals is in banning sales based on aesthetic features and magazine capacity. What people are saying when they say “we need to have a reasonable conversation about gun regulation.” What they are actually saying is, “I know nothing about guns or how they are regulated, but I’m really unsatisfied that I can’t go blindly through life and be safe all of the time.”
Suppose legislation goes into place banning “assault rifles,” any gun that can take magazines that have a higher than 10 round capacity. What happens when…Continued…
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Contributed by Alan Murdock of The Gun Tutor.