Return of the Scary Gun Ban
By streiff Posted in Culture — Comments (12) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »
Diane Feinstein has announced she will introduce legislation reinstating the Violence Policy Center's brainchild, the assault weapon ban that expired on 13 September 2004.
After the conventional wisdom that the Congress could not fail to extend the assault weapon ban was proven wrong, the idiot polity proceded to replace at least four right-thinking Senators with red state gun nuts. In addition to a solid pro-Second Amendment majority in the Senate the House leadership has said the bill will never be considered in the House. At a minimum, Feinstein faces an uphill battle with the hill being the political equivalent of the north face of the Eiger.
The sunsetting of the assault weapon ban was one of the most sensible acts Congress has taken in a long while. It was one of many feel-good laws passed during the Clinton regime that were either voided by the Courts (e.g., US v. Lopez) or, like the scary gun ban, made a mockery of the law. In fact, this law may be the only law ever passed that outlawed something no one can really describe.
The official criteria for an assault weapon is a rifle that has two of the following features:
- --Folding or telescopic stock
--Pistol grip protruding conspicuously beneath the stock
--Flash suppressor or threaded barrel
For a pistol to fall under the ban it must have a detachable magazine and two of the following features:
- --Magazine that attaches outside of the pistol grip
--Threaded barrel capable of accepting a barrel extender, flash suppressor, forward handgrip, or silencer
--Shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned
--Manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded
--Semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm
In execution, the law was not of much use for anything other than amusing a couple of engineers over a weekend. For instance, a semi-automatic version of the AK-47 becomes completely legal if you remove the bayonet stud and flash suppressor. Many scary weapons were made legal by simply replacing the original stock and pistol grip with a solid stock tapped for the thumb, like in this photo [note: I know this particular weapon is not considered an assault weapon it was the only photo of the style of stock I could find]. These photos demonstrate how the excellent FN/FAL can be changed from illegal to legal.
The ease with which the law could be circumvented has long been a source of suspicion. Were the VPC and the Brady Center so stupid? Or was the law deliberately designed to fail so as to serve as a point of departure for an even more stringent law? I've always been a firm believer in eschewing malice when stupidity will suffice as an explanation, but this level of stupidity is troubling.
So we wish Feinstein well in pursuit of her great white whale, we look forward to Mad Howard opining on a redmeat, and Red State, "guns, God, and gays issue and we hope Denny Hastert lets this bill out for a vote in October 2006.