The Battle Looms Ahead
The battle for the survival of freedom is evolving into what will probably be one of the most turbulent presidencies in this country's history as the true legacy of the Clinton administration takes effect. In the early 1990s we had a period of unprecedented division within the Republican party and a triumphant celebration of power for Democrats who had been without executive power on the federal level for twelve years. In efforts to consolidate power, various Socialist think-tankers within the Democratic party implemented a series of plans designed to turn America into a socialist country.
Like any number of blood soaked revolutionaries who had taken a capitol and declared victory, the Socialists sought the power to deal effectively with any possible opposition. A generation of subversives had come to power with the full understanding of what got them there and what methods would possibly be effective in bringing them out of it. One major series of proposed laws was the Omnibus crime bill and anti-terrorism act of 1994. This series of laws would give sweeping power to NGOs and law enforcement agencies tasked with smashing social and political dissent and opposition. These efforts went opposed by a regrouped Republican party but eventually, much of it went through in the form of compromise as even many Democratic interests saw the dangers of concentrating too much power in the hands of President Bill Clinton.
Gun control had long been a major plank of the Democratic Convention, which eventually discarded any facade of moderation and championed a new phrase with a clear meaning: "Domestic Disarmament". This was clearly stated by scholars close to the Presidency to mean the effective disarming of anyone not directly exercising the authority of government. Opposition to this was immediately and emphatically labeled as terrorism, or at least terrorist sympathy. Thus the next round of the game was to be a sweeping anti-terrorism bill that at the time was considered "too far", but behind closed doors, was simply conceded as "too much too soon".
Enter the Bush Presidency. George Bush Jr was elected in a hotly contested election and has had to make many concessions to Democrats who still wield extraordinary power in all levels of the legislature and civil service. This has meant that reversing gun prohibitions has not been a significant part of Republican strategy.
One significant aspect of the 1994 crime bill was a sunset provision on the assault weapon ban. The concept being that if the law were in effect for ten years, it could be later evaluated for effectiveness and voted on again. In theory at least, if the ban expires for even an hour before being renewed or replaced with a more stringent ban, then any guns in the US at the point of expiration could turn to "preban" configuration legally. This would supposedly drop the artificially inflated prices of many "preban" assault weapons. Well, in theory at least, but lets look at some recent history.
California passed the first Assault Weapon ban in 1989. It was quickly circumvented by manufacturers and importers to meet the demand of what was at the time, one third of the US firearms market. The ban evolved through administrative action and court cases through 1995, but later it was determined that the law was not effective at removing combat effective guns from private ownership. There had been hopes in the shooting community that the law would be declared a failure and would be abandoned. A new law passed in 1999 which what more stringent and far reaching. Once it was in full effect by 2001, what had previously been legal was transformed into a felony.
The new lies are already beginning to take shape in the absence of the anticipated "rage shootings" and terrorist acts on the part of typically white male weapon collectors. Even more telling, mortality statistics for "children" have been redefined to include people up to age 19 to skew homicide and suicide statistics so that they include drug and gang related homicides and suicides among people aged 15 to 19 who are commonly treated as adults by the courts in such instances. Accidents and murders of persons under the age of 15 that involve assault weapons in the US are so infrequent that they are considered newsworthy and statistics on them are not readily available from the FBI or ANY of the organizations that promote restrictive regulations on these weapons, ostensibly to make the "society safe for children". Example http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/weapons.htm shows a set of graphs. Only by including statistics in peak gang involvement ages as much as they can get away with while calling the people "teenagers" can the number benders make the "point" of gun related homicides making a slight turn upward in spite of a strong downward trend that is directly proportionate to the decline in use of Crack Cocaine among inner city youth. Fewer inner city Black and Hispanic youth shooting each other or being shot by the police in gang and drug prohibition related conflict means fewer homicides on the books.
In fact, guns of any type are involved in less than half the homicides of any type where small children are the victims (age 12 and under http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/weapons.htm )
A little more "fun with the numbers" from our 2000 crime statistics can give us some clue as to the rate of homicides with assault weapons. Firearms other than handguns accounted for 2209 deaths in the year 2000 ( http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/weaponstab.htm ) I calculate that as a percentage of all weapons used in homicide and that is around 14%. Not exactly a leading cause of death or even homicides. In fact when we consider knives at 2090 homicides, and that "firearms other than handgun" also includes shotguns, machineguns, black powder guns and common rifles, we can probably consider the assault rifles to be a proportion that is consistent with their overall market share and come out with somewhere around 3% of the 14% which puts us back around 1% of all homicides (maybe, since it is an extrapolation of a best case scenario of 0% and a possible but more unlikely 14%.)
Of all those homicides, they tell us that the "assault weapon is the preferred weapon used against police officers". Well, maybe preferred by prisoners who answer surveys, but in actuality, year 2000 officer homicide victims were still more likely to be shot with their own handgun than with an assault rifle brought by the offender. 33 killed with handguns, 14 shot with guns other than handguns http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs/homicide/tables/leokweaptab.htm . Interestingly, the ratio was still more in favor of handguns in 1992 and 1993 in which events such as the LA riots and Waco "raised concerns" about people shooting law enforcement officers with assault rifles. Reality is that the decline in officers being killed with handguns has more to do with intensive training and new holsters now being used to increase the likelihood that an officer will retain control of their handgun in a physical scuffle with an opponent. Again, "safety of law enforcement officers" sort of rings shallow when it could be argued that disarming of law enforcement personnel would remove an equal or larger number of firearms from possibly being used against them in relation to the market distribution of assault rifles. Unfortunately, such argument has been made by incredibly stupid legislators in the UK where many police are not safe from even casually determined criminals.
Unfortunately, the goals and strength of the gun prohibitionists is not changing much. Among the plans for a renewal of the assault weapons ban in 2004 is a series to new prohibitions designed to "close the loopholes" in current law. These efforts are well funded with money stolen from the taxpayers, private foundations, and in a smaller part, through grass roots efforts. From every indication I have been able to find, the grass roots foundation of the gun prohibitionist movement is minimal. It is most often simply an arm of government policy.
This new battle is going to take effort on the part of every individual who values the end of a prohibition that has served only to bully the law abiding and create a class of criminals out of people who only want to exercise some basic rights.
OK, it is late August of 2003 and here is the update. Unfortunately it is almost all bad news.
The worst case scenario that we figured would be most likely is mostly happening. The Democrats at the national level not only want to renew the 1994 ban, they want to "close the loopholes" that "allow" similar "postban" guns to be manufactured and imported. They are not going for any additional restrictions on "military caliber" ammunition like we expected, but they are coming out with some oddball restrictions on magazines. I see the final drafts on the restrictions of high capacity magazines to probably change to be more in line with California's freeze on the transfer of them, but as it sits, the proposed federal legislation will require a form of registration of high capacity magazines and forbid their transfer along with preban assault weapons. The named list of banned assault weapons is also longer and more comprehensive, again parroting the California and New Jersey bans.
Support for the gun ban in the house and senate is close, but right now it looks like it will not go through on a steamroller path the way the first Patriot Act did. Americans by and large are getting suspicious of growing government, but have largely been unsympathetic to the trials and tribulations of gun collectors. While the Patriot act 2 and other big brother legislation is the subject of debate on a lot of the "liberal" sponsored networks, the debates are often short and extreme. My personal observation is that they are most often used as a soapbox pulpit by people who have such a history of anti-Americanism that their credibility is worth little or nothing in the eyes of those of us who hold the swing vote of public support.
One wildcard in this whole deal is the President. The signals coming out of the white house are a bit confusing on this. George Bush Sr did sign in on some heavy gun control laws, specifically an import ban that has as much of an effect on the market availability of several guns as the 1994 Clinton ban. Let's not also forget that The Brady's were Republicans. George Bush Jr says he will sign whatever bill passes through the legislature, but there is also word going around that White House aides are campaigning behind the scenes against the renewal of the ban.
The new "update ban" is a bugger and would no doubt hurt future generations of gun collectors. As I predicted, the effect of the ban is most likely going to be an increase in the value of the "postban" assault weapons produced and imported between 1994 and 2004, reason being that the pre 94 domestic and pre 89 imports have already reached their peak values, with the exception of a few specific models that are likely to continue to go up.
I personally think that the politicos all have their minds made up one way or the other on this and what the public tells them is not going to change it much, but it will let them know we are still around and will be around in coming elections. Insiders tell me that the ratio of callers against new restrictive gun control vs those who want more is like 10 to 1 at most Congressional and Senate staff offices. That is why they rely so heavily on the testimony and opinions of law enforcement "experts" since the whole "million mom" deal turned out to be a bust.
What we do know about the "Million Mom March" organization is that while they were failed as a grass roots lobbying organization, they were quite successful at illegally using millions of dollars worth of public resources and getting away with it clean. The staff was well paid, the facilities in prime locations, and their connections were all well established at the highest levels. Nobody in their organization did any jail time for fraud related to illegal taxpayer funding or fraud in relation to their non-profit status even though the evidence of these activities was plain and obvious when uncovered with relatively little effort on the part of private citizens. To make that matter worse, the investigation was not funded at all by the NRA, which did have the resources to uncover the dirty secrets of MMM very early in the game and chose not to do so. Instead, the NRA published the information AFTER it was published elsewhere.
It is that background which I have to sadly say that further gun bans and restrictions in 2004 stand a strong chance of passing. The enemy has a long track record of success followed by some key players losing elections because of it, but they always seem to recover. The big question now is how confident the Republicans (if there are any real ones left) feel their support base would be if they finally divorce the libertarian/gun owner crowd that is already pretty suspicious of the Patriot Acts.