The on-going attacks to the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American citizens by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has been relentless under the current administration.
ATF agents in Phoenix supplied firearms to the Sinaloa drug cartel, apparently in hopes of causing enough bloodshed along both sides of the border with firearms originating from the ATF plot to justify a ban on the semi-automatic firearms they were delivering to narco-terrorists. To this day, not a single ATF agent involved in the plot has been fired, and none have been criminally charged. Instead of complying with congressional investigations into the plot, the ATF and the Department of Justice under Eric Holder have stonewalled investigators, resulting in Holder being held in criminal contempt of Congress.
The same agency has recently attacked companies for selling so-called “80-percent receivers,” (an unfinished gun part), and has attempted to claim that shouldering an arm-brace equipped pistol illegal “manufactures” a short-barreled rifle, making people a felon for how they chose to hold an otherwise legal weapon. They’re still battling with Sig Sauer over what Sig called a muzzle brake, but what the ATF insists is a suppressor.
Time and again, the ATF has shown themselves to be capricious exploiters of poorly written laws, using crafty lawyers to pervert legislation to be used as legislators never intended against gun owners, manufacturing felons out of good citizens for victimless crimes.
While others would like to defund or disband ATF—and idea that has been debated for decades—a much more practical approach would be to simply remove from their control a number of archaic and nonsensical gun laws that have been crafted since the mid-1930s that should no longer apply in 2015. By narrowing their scope, perhaps the ATF could aspire to become competent within a narrower range or responsibilities.
A so-called “Firearms Freedom Act” could remove some of these obsolete and uniquely American restrictions on firearms, curtailing the manner in which the ATF could get into trouble, freeing them to focus on more pressing matters than the suppression of the basic human right to armed self-defense.
Here are some of the items in would include in a Firearms Freedom Act.
- Removing “short barreled rifles” (SBRs) from the National Firearms Act of 1934. Americans have long seen the utility of short-barreled rifles in hunting and self defense, and such firearms were once commonplace up through the early 1930s. Utility defined the length of a rifle barrel, not a federal mandate. Unfortunately, some of these short-barreled rifles were used by Prohibition-era gangsters as they warred upon one another, and Congress responded by outlawing these rifles. The restrictions on these useful firearms should have been rescinded along with Prohibition itself. SBRs would still be classified as regular firearms when stricken from the NFA, and be the subject of background checks when sold by Federal Firearms Licensees. Removing them from the NFA would simply keep the ATF from inundated with a needless additional layer of bureaucracy, report running, and compliance investigations that prevent them from researching and prosecuting actual crimes.
- Removing suppressors from the National Firearms Act of 1934. What we call suppressors or silencers today are nothing more or than mufflers for guns, and with good reason: automobile mufflers and gun mufflers were both developed by the same man (Hiram Percy Maxim) at the same time. He invented these noise-reducing suppressors to cut down on the excessive noise of both internal combustion engines and the noise of gunfire. Just like cars with gasoline engines are by no mean silent and cars sound like cars even with a muffler in place, firearms with suppressors still sound like guns, just at a less-damaging volume. Some have made the argument that if they were created today, OSHA would mandate suppressors for firearms use to cut down on environmental noise and the American Medical Association would argue that they are needed to combat the hearing damage that still takes place when people wear ear protection. Ironically, suppressors are actively encouraged in many European countries where firearms themselves are tightly restricted, and using a suppressor to keep the noise from bothering others is seen to be the mark of a responsible citizen. Instead of requiring an onerous $200 tax stamp and months of delays in ATF processing, suppressors should be treated like firearms, or perhaps be declassified entirely. After all, do we have national registration for car mufflers? American President Teddy Roosevelt was a known fan of suppressed firearms and never had to jump through absurd legal hoops to purchase one. Neither should you.
- Adding explicit protections for firearms and accouterments of contemporary militia utility. The Second Amendment was written to protect the pre-existing natural right to armed self-defense. It was written by very wise men who could privately own every military arm of the day, from hand grenades to rockets to cannons to ships-of-the-line, floating fortresses capable of leveling coastal cities. The goal of the Second Amendment was to ensure that the citizenry would always have arms of contemporary military utility to dispute foreign invasion and domestic tyrants. In keeping with the spirit of the Second Amendment, a Firearms Freedom Act would specifically protect firearms, ammunition feeding devices, accouterments and armor that might be used by the unorganized militia to defend the Republic and their families. These protections would preempt states and local laws. This would protect most semi-automatic firearms, standard-capacity magazines, and other equipment and accessories a citizen-soldier may use to protect the United States from its enemies.
- Revoking the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986. The very controversial “Hughes Amendment” forever banned the manufacture of selective-fire and automatic weapons, and was controversially passed on a disputed voice vote. It made it impossible for civilians to purchase any machine gun manufactured after FOPA became law in 1986. It “solved” the non-existent problem of legal machine guns being used in crimes, and was purely a spiteful attempt to undermine the Second Amendment by anti-gun Democrats. All selective-fire firearms and automatic weapons are already heavily regulated under the National Firearms Ac of 1934. Revoking the Hughes Amendment would enable firearms training companies and vetted collectors to once again use modern selective-fire weapons, instead of wearing out and destroying those of historical significance. Machine guns would still be tightly controlled and relatively uncommon.
- Adding explicit protections to common rifle ammunition. At this very moment the ATF has been attempting to ban the sale and restrict the development of common service-grade rifle ammunition by perverting the Law Enforcement Officers Protection Act of 1986. The ATF is preventing the development of new rifle bullets out of less-toxic materials than the lead commonly used in creation of bullets, while simultaneously attempting to ban common cartridges used in AR-15 and AK platform firearms. A simple one-line revision to the existing definition of “armor piercing ammunition” would easily solve that problem.
You will note that the proposed legislation is not the complete repeal of all federal gun laws that many gun owners seem to desire, and that so many non-gun owners seem to fear. There is no attempt to remove NFA restrictions and intensive background checks on who may purchase machine guns and who may own sawed-off shotguns. The sole intent is to remove arbitrary and detrimental laws on our basic right to own the very kinds of firearms, magazines, and accouterments that our Founding Fathers would agree are useful for the role of modern militia and personal defense as noted in recent Supreme Court decisions.
Admittedly, such a broad-based common sense law would be difficult to pass during this Administration, but it is worthwhile to propose such legislation in order to get people talking about it.
Perhaps some of the individual components of the proposal are more palatable to the general public at this time than others, and might be phased in more easily in a more piecemeal approach instead of a comprehensive one.
Are there any additions or subtractions that you would make to such a proposed law?