Thursday, September 23, 2010

Gun Control in the 20th Century

I've long held the belief that our current crop of gun control owes it's origins with the Volstead Act.

The Volstead Act, you'll recall was Prohibition. Because of the complete ban on alcohol, organized crime exploded. As did the tools of their trade. 1928 Thompsons and BARs were the stock and trade of the gangsters of the era (Capone, Segal, Lucky Luciano), as well as the bank robbing bandits that terrorized the heartland between 1929 and 1935. Think Dillinger, Bonnie and Clyde, Machine Gun Kelly, and Ma Barker.

To combat this threat, the government, in its infinite wisdom thought they could thwart the tools these desperadoes used by creating a tax on these and other weapons; most notably short barrelled rifles, short barrelled shotguns, suppressors, and any other class of firearms deemed by executive fiat to be too dangerous for the general public to own, like zip guns and cane guns.

Since the National Firearms Act of 1934, and its subsequent court case, US v Miller, the door has been pretty much wide-open, at least on the federal level. That is until Heller v DC and McDonald v Chicago.

One of the most sneaky and underhanded pieces of legislation since the Gun Control Act of 1968 was the Hughes Amendment. This little gem, while billed at being a boon to gun owners and check on the power of the ATF, actually cut gun owners off at the knees. Prior to that fateful day, one could produce an ATF form 1 and manufacture a fully automatic machine gun. Since then, only ATF certified dealers who meet specific criteria can manufacture full-auto firearms. What this has effectively done is create a market where only the truly rich can afford these weapons. Prices of full auto firearms are at a point where one has to have a lot of disposable income to afford one. No other class of firearms covered by the NFA was affected.

Think, for a minute. You're a gun owner and veteran and would like to have a fully functional M16 or M14 like the one you carried in Vietnam or Desert Storm. Unless you can afford the cost of brand new car, this is likely not going to happen. Think I'm lying? Do an Internet search for 'Class 3 weapons" and get back with me on the price. When met with a choice between a decent used car or that original Colt/Armalite AR15 for $12,000+, which are you going to make?

My thing going forward from McDonald and Heller would be to challenge the Hughes Amendment and its blanket ban on manufacture of post May 1986 machine guns. Talk about class warfare, here you have it. Only the rich can afford these weapons. Where else in our system of laws do we allow certain portions of a right to be outright banned? We don't have literacy tests for voting, you can still read books printed/written 2000 years ago, and there's no tax on going to the house of worship of your choice.

Now others will disagree with me. Fine. My argument for them is this. If I'm trustworthy enough to walk into a gun store and buy anything with a barrel length of 16" or greater (or 18" for a shotgun), what suddenly makes me so terrible that I can't be trusted with something that fires more than one bullet per pull of the trigger?

Others will scream bloody murder (pardon the pun) about their investments. I understand. But my rights are not about your investment and are not subject to a market artificially created by government fiat.

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