Gun bans offer manufacturers golden opportunity

Gun bans offer manufacturers golden opportunity
AP Photo/Lisa Marie Pane

Banning certain categories of guns is tricky. If you just ban, say, AR-15s, then someone will simply rename the rifle and the ban will be meaningless. That’s why a gun ban like the former assault weapon ban focused on features rather than just the weapons by name.

Yet it seems Bloomberg just discovered something about those gun bans.

They discover such things offer a great opportunity for some gun makers.

Two friends from high school had just gone into business selling guns in New York when the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre prompted state lawmakers there and elsewhere to try to ban so-called assault rifles.

For Edward Newman and Peter Morrisey and their company, Dark Storm Industries, the crackdown brought new opportunities.

Neither man had experience in the firearms business. They’d worked for years at a security company on Long Island. After developing the entrepreneurial itch, they explored going into organic cosmetics before settling on firearms. Soon, they learned the real money was in manufacturing, Newman recalls.

Faced with New York’s new restrictions on such weapons, Dark Storm’s executives designed a surprisingly simple workaround that resulted in a remarkably similar gun.

A small screw would make their rifle’s magazine — the device that stores ammunition and feeds it into the chamber for firing — “fixed” instead of removable. This one change pushed their patented rifle beyond the ban’s reach.

The truth is that it’s almost impossible to create a ban that will just impact the dreaded “assault weapon” and not leave room for gun makers to work around. Not if you want to at least appear you’re not going to ban anyone’s hunting rifle as lawmakers usually claim.

What companies like Dark Storm do is basically fill a need. Those who live in these states still want the guns they want. So, they create a version that complies with the law as written, even if it ignores the spirit of the law.

Since the spirit of the law is ridiculous anyway, I’m remarkably cool with it.

Now, we need to understand that when someone finds a way around one of these laws, anti-gun lawmakers make note of that and will, in time, try to add language to the law banning these adaptations as well. It’s a vicious cycle.

For the record, I’m just stating what happens. I’m not defending it or blaming these companies for it. The responsibility and blame fall only on the gun control groups and officials pushing this nonsense.

These companies, even if only because they’re chasing a dollar, are doing God’s work.

The company’s success helps show why US policymakers have been unable to stem a flood of semiautomatic weapons that the gun industry calls “modern sporting rifles.” Almost 2.8 million of them hit the American market in 2020, according to an estimate by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, an industry trade group. After mass shootings involving assault rifles this year in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas; and Highland Park, Illinois, Congress approved the first major US gun legislation in decades. The law devoted new funding to school safety and state-level programs aimed at keeping guns away from people who pose threats to themselves or others. But it did nothing to limit the kinds of weapons available to buyers.

“Gun manufacturers are very determined to flout the spirit of these laws, and they can do that because the laws are too technologically specific,” said Lindsay Nichols, federal policy director for the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We need legislation that is broadly written so that it’s harder to circumvent. State legislators are scared to death to pass that type of bill, which is why we need Congress to pursue restrictions that can stick.” The Democrat-controlled House passed broad legislation to ban assault weapons in July, but it hasn’t advanced in the Senate, where Republicans have enough votes to block it.

Of course someone from Giffords would say that, but the truth is that no matter what gun ban you put in place, someone will find a way around it.

We will not be disarmed. We won’t allow laws like this to gun unchallenged. Yes, that involves the courts, but it also means finding a way around those laws.

As a result, maybe it makes sense to look outside of gun control for a solution to the problem of mass shootings for a change rather than trying gun bans that simply don’t work anyway. Root out the underlying causes and it won’t matter what guns are available.

Don’t and the killers will just find another way.