Gun control and “people control” go together. The Obama administration and its Progressive allies always wanted to control the people. Now they feel ready to take the guns out of the people’s hands.
The Diane Feinstein Gun Control Law
Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), just as she said she would, will introduce a gun control law in the 113th Congress. As she did in 1995, she calls it an “assault weapons ban.” That is, she tells the people that she only wants to keep out of their hands certain weapons that usually only an infantryman would carry.
But what does that phrase assault weapon mean? Does it really mean only an automatic rifle? In fact, the government makes owning a fully automatic rifle a rare privilege. An automatic weapon chambers the next round just as each round fires, so long as you hold down the trigger. The Avtomat Kalashnikova Model 47, and the Israeli UZI, are the classic examples. In the Prohibition era, authorities often called these weapons by another name: “machine gun.”
But in fact the phrase assault weapon means exactly what certain liberal Senators and Representatives say it means, any time they say it. And today Diane Feinstein defines an assault weapon as any weapon that can take a detachable magazine, or “clip,” and has at least one military characteristic. And what is a military characteristic? Senator Feinstein will not say.
Progressives always act this way. They use terms that sound harmless enough, then change their meaning when they actually write laws or rules. Gun control advocates are the worst – first because they do it in the worst way, and second because their acts have the worst effects on other people’s freedoms.
Details of the Diane Feinstein gun control law
“The devil is in the details,” says the proverb. And the details of the Diane Feinstein gun control law are devilish enough. She boasts of what her bill will do, on her Senate web page. She names 120 specific guns that she calls assault weapons. They are not all fully automatic rifles. (They couldn’t be. The arms industry does not count 120 different weapons in the same class as the AK-47 or UZI.) They include semi-automatic weapons – the kind that fire one round with every trigger pull, without making you chamber a round between shots. (This class of weapon does not include the classic six-shot revolver, the weapon of choice in “Russian Roulette.”) And the 120 weapon makes include not only rifles but shotguns and handguns. Some of these are military officers’ service pistols. Maybe that’s one of the “military characteristics” she talks about but never names.
She also includes in her bill any semi-automatic rifle or handgun with a fixed magazine into which you can load more than ten rounds.
So perhaps the classic twelve-gauge three-shooter would not fall into this class. At least, not today. But ten rounds is a purely arbitrary limit. What would stop Congress, once they enacted a law like this, from lowering the round limit from ten rounds to three?
The Grandfather Trap
But that’s not all. Feinstein knows those of us interested in liberty will ask about weapons they already own legally. She knows that if she demanded simple surrender of those weapons, their owners would sue under the Constitution. Three words give their grounds: ex post facto. That is, you cannot punish someone for doing something that is unlawful today but was perfectly lawful when he did it – not in America you can’t.
So she grudgingly says, “We’ll ‘grandfather’ them in.” But: anyone having such a weapon must register it. That means getting a background check, and sending in your picture and even your fingerprints. And anyone who buys the gun from you must go through that same rigmarole. (Some observers are afraid that the law wouldn’t let you transfer those guns; thus the government would “inherit” them. I wouldn’t put that past Senator Feinstein. But she does not say that in her summary.)
The last time yours truly gave any police officer his fingerprints, was when he applied to take the medical licensing exam of the old Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. And any registration makes confiscation that much easier. And confiscation is the goal of all gun control. Governor Andrew Cuomo said so.
Obama dismisses “resistance.”
Putative President Barack Obama also boasted that he’s ready to take the guns away. He said so to David Gregory on Meet the (De)Press(ed). (Yes, the same David Gregory who waved a high-capacity magazine in Wayne LaPierre’s face, and now might face charges even for handling it.)
Will there be resistance? Absolutely there will be resistance.
He doesn’t seem to care about that. He even compared himself to Abraham Lincoln. Well, depending on how you really feel about Abraham Lincoln, he might not have flattered himself as much as he pretends. Abraham Lincoln, some say, stretched the permission the Constitution gives the government to suspend the writ of habeas corpus. (He also played fast and loose with the “soldier vote” to win his second term.) In short, many remember Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant, and not just Southerners, either.
Is gun ownership a right or a privilege?
The US Constitution. Photo: National Archives of the United States
The Second Amendment clearly says,
The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.
That says owning and carrying guns is your right. A right is something you may do unless and until a judge tells you that you may not. The only way the government, under the Constitution, can even say a specific person can’t own or carry a gun anymore, is by an order of a court. The Fifth Amendment says,
No person…shall be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law.
The Fourteenth Amendment says that no State may do such a thing, either.
Advocates of gun control know better than to announce, one fine morning, “Every citizen and lawful resident must turn in your guns.” First they make gun ownership no longer a right, but a privilege. A privilege is anything you may not do until a government office says you may. And even a privilege that 90 percent or more of the people have, is still a privilege. Anything that the government may, through its sole discretion, stop you from doing, is a privilege. Driving is a privilege. The government owns the roads, so the government decides who drives on them, and who doesn’t.
And some gun control advocates, like Representative Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), make themselves clear. To them, no one should have the privilege of carrying a weapon, unless that person is:
One of the definitions of a nation-state is that the state has a monopoly on legitimate violence. And the state ought to have a monopoly on legitimate violence.
No, Mr. Nadler. The state has a monopoly on starting the use of force against another. But anyone has the right to use force to resist when someone uses force on him.
Nadler goes on:
If the premise of your question is that people are going to resist a tyrannical government by shooting machine guns at American troops, that’s insane.
Tell that to the Sons (and Daughters) of the American Revolution. Tell that also to American blacks. They were the first targets of gun control. (How many people remember that?) Tell it also to Jews who fled Nazi Germany. Gun control was the first step that Adolf Hitler took.
A State legislator fights back
Representative Jerry O’Neill (R-Columbia Falls, MT) wants to make the US Constitution stronger in protecting the right to keep and bear arms. He notices two ways that gun control advocates try to work around the Second Amendment. One is to abuse the “Commerce Clause.” So he recommends changing the preposition among to between in Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution. That way, the federal government could never again pretend it had the power to regulate commerce within a State, whether to impose gun control or anything else. (Like stopping a man from growing his own wheat because he might bring down the price of wheat in another State.)
The second is to negotiate American’s rights away with a treaty. The UN Arms Trade Treaty is his special target. So he would put into the Constitution that a President may make treaties, but all treaties would be subject to the Constitution.
Any Constitutional scholar should understand this already. Mr. O’Neill wants to make explicit what ought to be implicit today. Whether he should or no, is debatable. If we really have to make such things explicit, that breaks the Ninth and Tenth Amendments.
The better way to fight gun control is to defend your rights in court. And to recognize that gun ownership is a right, not a privilege. Bills like these should never get out of committee. Indeed, the Senate or House should throw out any Senator or Representative who introduces gun control laws, or anything else that breaks the Constitution. Otherwise, the oath they take “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” means nothing.