According to the "conventional wisdom" (an admittedly dubious term), a new federal ban of so-called "assault weapons" is unlikely in the near future--with Slate magazine going so far as to call its demise "inevitable." The Huffington Post argues that this was the plan all along, with the ban being a sort of sacrificial lamb to be martyred for the real goal of banning private sales. Chris Knox, of the Firearms Coalition, offers perhaps the most useful characterization of the gun prohibitionists' strategy, referring to Senator Dianne Feinstein's (D-CA) "assault weapon" ban bill as a kind of "rope-a-dope" gambit.
Setting aside for now the abject cowardice of what the GOP and NRA seem poised to accept, in the form of a private sales ban, National Gun Rights Examiner David Codrea reminds us not to become too complacent in believing that even the "assault weapon" ban situation cannot suddenly become much worse:
Still, does that mean we can relax as far as Feinstein’s latest plot against our rights is concerned? Imagine as you’re reading this, right now, the TV playing in the background interrupts its regular program with breaking news of another mass shooting. It’s going to happen, you know, as long as maniac killers are guaranteed success and “fame.” So now ask yourself if your representatives have demonstrated enough fidelity to their oaths to give you confidence that they’ll hold fast.
For the moment, though, the ban appears to be one of the more distant threats. On the other hand, if Feinstein cannot get her beloved ban of regime change rifles this time around, she will likely try to console herself with some part of it--some low-hanging fruit. As we discussed in December, she gave a hint about what flavor that low-hanging fruit might take in a press conference with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). It comes at the end of this 51-second video segment (emphasis added to the transcript):
Um--1993, I got a whole bunch of gun magazines, and went through them, and sort of did a study of the state of the art of these guns then ["a whole bunch of gun magazines"--that's some "study"]. We just re-did that, and I have on my desk, sort of these magazines, which will show the state of the art today, 2012. I cannot tell you how much more sophisticated and technologically advanced these weapons are, all stemming from military weapons. There are even devices which can be put in them legally, which make them fully automatic.
Those "devices" would be "bump fire" stocks, like Fostech Outdoors' Bumpski and DefendAR-15. Contrary to Senator Feinstein's claims, they do not transform semi-automatic firearms into fully automatic ones, by any rational definition of fully automatic. One shot is fired per trigger pull, just as with any other semi-automatic firearm.
Nevertheless, when she announced her "assault weapon" ban bill, she promised to ban such stocks, as one of the "improvements" over her 1994 ban:
- Banning dangerous aftermarket modifications and workarounds.
- Bump or slide fire stocks, which are modified stocks that enable semi-automatic weapons to fire at rates similar to fully automatic machine guns.
That language seems not to have survived in the actual text of Feinstein's S. 150*, but that does not mean she has lost her passion to protect America from the plague of bump fire stocks (the next victim of "bump fire violence" will apparently be the first, but don't count on that making any difference to Feinstein), as illustrated in an Associated Press article yesterday:
"Since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban expired, we have seen a rapid rate of technological improvements in assault weapons, and that concerns me," Feinstein, a California Democrat, said in an email response to questions from The Associated Press.
"This replacement shoulder stock turns a semi-automatic rifle into a weapon that can fire at a rate of 400 to 800 rounds per minute," she said. Noting the strong existing federal regulation of machine guns, she added, "I strongly believe that devices allowing shooters to fire at similar rates should also be outlawed."
The forcible citizen disarmament lobby, and their pet politicians like Feinstein, have long exploited the public's fear of the very idea of widely available "machine guns," and have indeed relied on much of the public being unable to distinguish fully automatic weapons from whichever guns they are trying to ban at the time. The rabidly anti-gun Violence Policy Center has openly acknowledged this strategy for the last 25 years:
The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons--anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun--can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.
Feinstein may not get her regime change rifle ban, but look for her to introduce a bill to get something, and this is something she has identified as being within reach.
*Update: As it turns out, such language is in the bill, after all:
`(C) Any part, combination of parts, component, device, attachment, or accessory that is designed or functions to accelerate the rate of fire of a semiautomatic rifle but not convert the semiautomatic rifle into a machinegun.
Apologies for the error.
- Journalists continue spreading VPC's 'machine gun' confusion
- Threat to private gun sales might be greater than threat to 'assault weapons'
- Feinstein's 'assault weapon' ban would be tantamount to confiscation
- Feinstein's 'assault weapon' ban probably not gun grabbers' main effort
- Americans aren't buying 'assault weapons' just to have something to register
- Call them 'regime change rifles'
- Add-Ons Let Semi-Autos Fire Like Military Weapons