Editor’s note: On August 10th, 2016, we ran a review of John Lott’s book about a ‘war on guns.’ This feature from Shooting Wire is a follow up in which I discussed the history of “common-sense regulations” and “gun owner compromises” made since the founding – to put in perspective these current calls for infringements of a citizen’s right to self defense.
The 2nd Amendment was ratified in 1791. Until the 20th Century, there was no real federal attempt to infringe upon that right – that was not true at state and local levels. Those can be discussed in another venue.
In 1934, allegedly due to the lawlessness predictably brought about by another senseless federal regulation – prohibition of alcohol – there was an attempt to restrict handgun ownership by a federal mandate requiring fingerprinting, photography, notification and approval of local law enforcers and the payment of a $200 tax stamp. That didn’t happen, though certain firearms – so-called ‘short barrel’ rifles and shotguns, machine guns, suppressors, trick guns (guns hidden in items like canes) were placed under that restriction.
If a little is good, a lot should be ‘better, in 1938, Uncle Sam licensed gun dealers through the Commerce Department for a $1 annual fee – back when a dollar was worth a real 100 cents. Sales to persons convicted of certain crimes or who “lacked a permit” were prohibited.
Things were quiet though there was a constant drumbeat for more infringements until 1968. Using political assassinations as an excuse, licensing dealers, detailed record keeping requirements, and prohibiting sales of handguns to someone from out-of-state (relative to the licensee), to felons, to those determined to be ‘mentally incompetent,’ drunks and drug users. The “prohibited possessor” class was established. No “mail order” purchases of firearms were allowed, age limits on purchase of guns and ammo, records for ammo purchases and the federal “transfer” form was instituted. Four years later, ATF was created because we needed more federal police outside of Constitutional authority.
In 1986, two infringements passed. One was the stupidly named “law enforcement officers protection act” that prohibited manufacture, sale or import of KTW ammunition: the only round that met the requirements of the ban on handgun ammo that would perforate concealable body armor – and was, incidentally, only sold to police officers who were prevented from having patrol rifles or shotgun slugs accessible while on duty. So much for “making us safe.”
The similarly stupidly named firearms owners’ protection act had the sole relevant impact of preventing non-government purchases of ‘machine guns’ made after 1986. There were other elements of the statute, none relevant to this piece.
In 1990, the ‘crime control act,’ named for something government is uniquely unable to do, allowed the US Attorney General to establish “gun-free school zones” (violent criminal empowerment zones), made illegal any possession and discharge of firearms – stopping all in-school marksmanship programs – and outlawed assembly of certain semiauto rifles or shotguns from legally imported parts.
We also got Brady which instituted a five-day waiting period and background check before a licensee can allow transfer to a non-licensed person (“citizen”). NICS was mandated in this law.
In 1994, we got the Clinton Gun Ban. There was a silly name for it, but as it didn’t describe the intent, the name escapes me. This banned manufacture, transfer, possession and importation of a new class of guns, named by Josh Sugarmann – “assault weapons.” (sic) They also banned boxes with springs – magazines that held too much ammunition.
The ban sunset in 2004. So after this list of “compromises” and “common sense gun regulations,” just how much better off are we today than we were in, say, 1933? Well, we have the slowest recovery from an economic downturn in our history, we have unenforced laws against illegal entry into the US by aliens, we have 10,000 “refugees” from the Middle East. Every time there is a shot fired in the US, the “news media” component of the elites inside the Beltway tells us that the US is the most violent country in the world, the most racist and terrible in every category: that’s really something as the US is composed of divergent peoples and cultures from around the globe – the widest diversity there is in any developed nation.
The "sporting purposes" exception in the 1968 Gun Control Act and laws that follow are a joke. The Second Amendment failed to mention that as a reason to enumerate that Natural Right -- and those "weapons of war," so-called by politicians who seek to scare the electorate, are nothing more than firearms that are often used for sporting purposes -- shown here on a varmint eradication job in the American West.
So why can’t they pass more infringements? They have academia, big media in terms of news and entertainment, absolute control of social media and big money interests like Soros. What’s the hold up?
Gun control at the national level is toxic. It’s not some ‘gun lobby.’ Take the two biggest sellers in the business – Ruger and S&W, add Freedom Group, and you still have less than the annual rounding error of the auto industry.
Estimates of the gun owning population of the US top at around 130 million. Only five or so millions of those are in the NRA – the alleged lobbyist for the “gun industry.” Those on the inside know that the trade group of the outdoor industry is the National Shooting Sports Foundation, but apparently that organization is harder for the political class and big media to demonize – maybe it’s because NSSF has four letters and that’s too long for prohibitionists to remember.
A few factors have creeped into the equation. One is that the prohibitionists have used the same tired, disproved arguments time and time and time again. The same tired old song is obscured by the fog of boredom and the obvious lie. During the expansion of near-nationwide concealed carry, there were predictions of “blood running in the streets,” “gunfights over parking places,” and “no good can come from this.”
Wrong on each and every point. That did not go unnoticed.
The first real federal gun ban, the 1994 Clinton ban, gave lie to the story “we’re not going to ban your guns.” Sorry, but that’s just crap, a plain lie. They proved it, it was nothing we did. As prices for standard capacity magazines and “preban” guns soared, the ban sunset started the biggest run on so-called “assault weapons” imaginable. People who wouldn’t have had an AR15 stuffed in their . . . duffle bag now just had to have one. It was the same old story: “If they don’t want us to have something and they’re so much smarter than we are, then it’s something we must have!”
The social media that was supposed to move the political opinion needle toward the (not so) liberal, (not very) progressive side actually moved people more to the middle of extremes. What we’re seeing is pro-individual, anti-government leanings; so called social liberal, economic conservative. Even the Libertarian Party – never a good barometer of true libertarian thought -- misread the tea leaves when they anointed Gary Johnson and “Gun Ban Bill” Weld as their candidates.
Add the “aw-shucks” down-home regular guys on internet video, the Gun Blast crew and Hickok45 to name a couple, and people weren’t seeing guns the way DC and Hollywood wanted them to see guns. So much for the statist nature of social media . . .
Those same young – and old – people slammed Congress after Sandy Hook every time talk of infringements came up. That is not likely to change in the near term as one of two major parties in this country has firearms infringements and prohibitions as a plank in the party ‘platform.’ That and the Occupant’s demands for “action,” including his extra-Constitutional ‘executive orders,’ have pushed more and more of those 130 million gun owners to hammer Congress with one voice: no more gun laws.
So we have gun owner “compromises” going back to 1934 – when do the prohibitionists get to “compromise?” Well, that’s not going to happen. Now they’re demanding a suspension of due process by insisting that people on a ‘no-fly’ list be prohibited possessors without benefit of a hearing or by having a lengthy, costly appeals process. They’re demanding the Clinton gun ban be re-instituted in an “improved” form with no “grandfather” provisions and including government seizures of prohibited firearms.
They’re wanting to seize guns from veterans who need assistance with their financial affairs and from the elderly who have help with their financial issues – because those classes of people have no need for the ultimate force option in self-defense.
You think they’re not after your guns? You’re delusional and not part of the mainstream. In fact, this political year shows that the elites in government, politics and big media (news and entertainment) are not part of the mainstream – and on the wrong side of history.
- - Rich Grassi