Anyhow, I was going to write a word on the temperature of the industry post-SHOT. I'd say the word is "unsettled." Half the industry is convinced there will be an Assault Weapons Ban (AWB) tomorrow afternoon; the other half convinced that the Blessed One will be too preoccupied trying to restart the economy, personally tracking Osama to his lair and, on the side, keeping the Israelis from solving the Middle East problem with a cleansing application of fire.
As most of you know, I come down closer to the "tomorrow afternoon" group than the "preoccupied" guys, in part because I'm baseline paranoid, but also in part because the AWB is what it is...something symbolic to the left, akin to those religious totems always being dug up in Eastern Europe, bones of the saints and such. Even the dimmest liberal — although surely an oxymoron — understands that AWBs don't actually ban "assault weapons," have no effect whatsoever on crime (as the sunsetting of the old AWB proved conclusively), will rally the progun forces at a previously unprecedented level, and send waves of unintended consequences ping-ponging through the culture...which is how bHO became the most successful gun salesmen in history.
But it's the old scorpion and frog joke — the scorpion stings the frog carrying him across the river, even though the scorpion will drown, because, hey, it's what scorpions do. Remember, the belief in the endless panoply of antigun "solutions" is religion, not logic. One of the reasons that debating firearm issues with antigunners is futile is that there is no logic involved on their part; might as well argue the number of angels who can dance on the head of a pin (the correct answer is six, including the really hot Eastern European one).
If I'm wrong, I got a bunch of extra 5.56 and plenty of magazines. So what? I believe buying an AR, extra mags and ammo is an act of patriotism, exercising a fundamental right. Secondly, every new black rifle owner — thank you, President bHO! — brings another voice more profoundly into the fight. If I had it in my power, I'd wave my magic wand and give every gun owner an AR, 10 mags and 1,000 rounds of ammunition...although we seem to be getting there without my magic wand. More is better when it comes to political realities.
I believe that should the Democratic scorpions sting their Blue Dog frogs and go forward with an AWB, there will indeed be a Heller argument made against the new bill, something along the lines that military-styled black rifles are now the most common, most prevalent rifles in America, making it Constitutionally harder to ban them.
Here's a dense, interesting article from the Nicholas Johnson, Professor of Law, Fordham University Law School, on "Imagining Gun Control In America" in the Wake Forest Law Review. You need to read the whole thing, but here is its conclusion:
Future Supreme Court panels and lower courts might develop all manner of criteria for placing particular guns outside the protection of the Second Amendment. This possibility complicates the defiance decisions of private citizens, and those decisions affect the viability of gun regulation outside the core of protected firearms. One methodology legislatures might use to push categories of guns outside the boundaries of constitutional protection is the bad gun formula. It was used to advance the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban.
The argument was that assault weapons were peculiarly dangerous and removing them from the inventory would not impair legitimate interests. The forward risk created by this form of line drawing is that every type of gun has its peculiarly dangerous characteristics. All guns are deadly and, ultimately, might be characterized as especially dangerous under the bad gun formula.
Within twenty yards, nothing is more devastating than the shotgun, and it can be easily sawed off for concealability. The long range precision capabilities of the scoped bolt action rifle make it dramatically more deadly than any alternative on distant targets. These rifles are ballistically superior to other portable weapons—characteristics that have prompted some to label these ordinary hunting rifles “sniper rifles,” and to press for laws banning them.
The semi-automatic assault rifle, though typically chambered for a lower-powered, less- deadly cartridge than most deer rifles, can fire multiple rounds before reloading and can be more portable than standard hunting rifles.
Concealability makes the handgun a weapon of surprise, opportunity, and last-ditch defense.
These distinct utilities might be the foundation for denying constitutional protection as circumstances evolve. They will also fuel defiance decisions in spite of nominal constitutional protection. For people who recognize a danger of confiscation with respect to peculiar categories of firearms, the incentives to defy registration, secondary sales, or other recording statutes should continue. This is especially true for people who judge particular categories of guns to have no acceptable replacements.
Without a commitment to or capacity for eliminating the existing inventory of private guns, the supply-side ideal and regulations based on it cannot be taken seriously. It is best to acknowledge the blocking power of the remainder and adjust our gun control regulations and goals to that reality. Policymakers who continue to press legislation grounded on the supply-side ideal while disclaiming the goal of prohibition are deluded or pandering
. Here's a second article in Reason Online, asking the question of whether a "nicer" NRA would be more effective, and seems to conclude probably not:
BTW, the Richard Feldman mentioned in the Reason article is the very same person who has gone on record on other forums stating that "Michael Bane" is a pseudonym for a famous Washington antigun lobbyist...probably quite a surprise to the people who waited in line for my autograph at SHOT!But as it turned out, the Court’s decision left plenty of things for gun owners to worry about. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia went out of his way to say “nothing in our opinion should be taken to cast doubt on longstanding prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings, or laws imposing conditions and qualifications on the commercial sale of arms.” He also suggested that the Second Amendment permits bans on carrying concealed guns and on possession of “dangerous and unusual weapons,” in contrast with weapons “in common use.”
The “dangerous and unusual” standard seems to be aimed at saving federal restrictions on civilian possession of machine guns. But all weapons are dangerous, and any weapon that is banned (such as the guns arbitrarily prohibited by the “assault weapon” law) will thereby be rendered unusual, which makes Scalia’s reasoning circular. In any event, the “dangerous and unusual” exception, along with Scalia’s more general statement that “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” will provide grist for gun debates (and fund raising appeals) for many years to come.