Sunday, January 20, 2013

Gun Bans

By Rob Watson

Back in the day, August or so of 1994, I was in the gun business. I had a retail store and, for the first time in 3 years, was making a significant profit from it. The profit making would end in three months. The profit making began when President Bill Clinton proposed banning fire arms. This prompted good, law abiding, citizens, who had never owned a gun, and never seriously considered owning one, to go out and buy. Many bought more than one.

The profit making ended when 12% of gun owning democrats voted republican in the November congressional elections. After more than 40 years of dominating congress, Democrats lost a fair percentage of their seats in the House of Representatives and in the Senate. It would be 12 years before they regained control of Congress, and that by a vastly slimmer margin than previously. This last because the democratic "Solid South" started turning republican.

With political history behind us, lets turn to the guns and magazines that were "banned". (Careless people have taken up the habit of calling "magazines" "clips". I find this irritating but will pass on it for now) Any magazine that held more than 10 rounds of ammunition was banned. Any pistol that weighed more than 56 ounces (3.5 pounds or 1.5kg), was semiautomatic and had a removable magazine was banned. Any rifle that had more than three banned features was banned. Banned features? What are banned features you ask. Removable magazines, semiautomatic actions, fore grips that prevented the user from burning his hands on a hot barrel, flash hiders, muzzle breaks to reduce recoil, bayonet lugs or bayonets, and a few other features that I don't recall. So, let us look a little closer.

You may think of a magazine as a metal or plastic box, open at the top and enclosed on the four sides with a removable bottom. Inside is a false bottom forced upward by a spring. The open top is formed such that the contents, being forced upward by the false bottom (also called the follower) are held in place until pushed forward by some part of the firearm. The magazine is held in place inside the firearm by a spring loaded latch. Press the latch and Sir Isaac Newton removes this magazine for you. (or, more correctly, Sir Isaac Newton's Law of Gravity).

Banning these was silly because... First off, the removable bottom (and the cleverly crafted law banning high capacity magazines) allowed the original manufacturer to remove the bottom and install a spacer between the follower and the bottom that restricted the magazine capacity to 10 rounds of ammunition. The new owner needed only remove the bottom of the magazine, remove the spacer, and replace the bottom to return the magazine to it original capacity. (which may have been slightly illegal. But if one were to go murder a school full of kids, this slight infraction might get over looked) Or, secondly, one could just buy several of the millions of extra magazines manufactured between the proposal of the law and its passing and effective date. (predating bans being against the law here)

In fairness, many original manufacturers eventually redesigned their magazines to hold only 10 rounds. This resulted in some odd looking devices becoming even odder looking.

Of course, if one were to shoot up a theater full of people, one only needs a container full of 10 round magazines. The one or two seconds required to change magazines couldn't allow that many targets to escape. Shooting up a mall full of people could be more of a problem in that the shooter might have to aim to hit his targets instead of just spraying bullets indiscriminately.

Now, to the firearms themselves... A 56 ounce pistol... that is 3.5 pounds without ammunition. What perp in his warped mind would carry a pistol or two (most mass murderers bring more than one weapon) that heavy. After all, the gun ban is going to require him to carry a bunch of magazines.

The AR15 is now the ultimate assault weapon. Prior to August 1994 it had a semiautomatic action, a removable magazine, a foregrip that protected one from burning ones hands on a hot barrel, and a flash hider. After the gun ban you could no longer buy one with a flash hider. Or, if you really, really needed a flash hider, for shooting up darkened movies, you could buy one of the preban, Grandfathered AR15's. (after the previous gun ban expired a few years ago, manufacturers added the flash hiders to their new rifles)

So,  a mental defective can now, and in the future, go into a legitimate gun dealer, purchase a preban (or not) weapon, and preban (or not) magazines, any amount of ammunition, pass a federal background check, and do as he pleases until 23 minutes after he shoots someone. (23 minutes is the average response time for 911 calls, or longer if the responding officer waits for backup)

The alternatives are an extra brave officer who does not wait for backup, as in Texas a few years back, an armed off duty deputy at a theater in Phoenix, AZ (The day after Sandy Hook Elementary) or an armed citizen. Unless you go into one of the places that ban law abiding gun toting citizens.

Research shows that prior to the 1994 gun ban about 20 mass killings occurred each year. During the gun ban, 1994 to 2004, about 20 mass shootings happened every year. After the gun ban expired in 2004, about 20 mass murders occurred every year. So much for gun bans. Research also showed, in the 38 shooting investigated, one or more people were told, in advance, by the perp, of the plan to shoot up a bunch of people.

Mental defectives, and those proposing gun violence, are not in the data base used for background checks. They need to be put there. There is a method for being removed from this database if one is a law abiding citizen, with proof of such. I have seen it. It is inconvenient but it works. And background checks need to be made universal. A little gun training wouldn't hurt either.

The only way to stop a bad person with a gun is by a good person with a gun... NRA