Tuesday, February 27, 2007

H.B. 1022: I'll take "Dumb Laws" for $500, Alex...

Anybody with the reading skills of a five-year old and a modicum of self-honesty now understands that the Assault Weapons Ban (better termed the "Scary-Looking Guns" ban) of 1994 was a complete flop. It had zero effect on crime, affected guns that were hardly ever used in crimes, and attempted to come up with a list of largely cosmetic features by which a gun would be determined to be an "Assault Weapon". Gun manufacturers simply deleted these features, changed the names of their guns, and continued production.

If anything, it spurred interest in these guns. Before 1994, AR15's and FALs were niche guns, while AK and SKS type rifles mostly appealed to plinkers on a budget, due to their low entry cost and the availability of plentiful and cheap imported ammunition. During the ban years, whole cottage industries sprang up around these firearms, now glowing with the electric appeal of forbidden fruit, and these days it is a rare shooter who doesn't own at least one "Evil Black Rifle", possibly one that they have built from the ground up out of a kit.

The ban drew derision from those knowledgeable about the gun industry, since the guns it specifically mentioned by name were obviously selected by grabbing a Gun Digest and picking out the pictures of the most belligerent-looking heaters, without regard for price or actual availability. For instance, it named both the Fabrique Nationale FNC and the Beretta AR-70; both of which had been banned from importation back in 1989, as a result of which only a few hundred examples of each existed in the country, mostly sitting in collector's safes, protected from actual use by their scarcity-inflated four-figure price tags.

Photo courtesy of Oleg Volk

Now with H.B. 1022, it's obvious that they want to try again, only harder. They've expanded their "evil features" list to include the nebulously-defined "barrel shroud", described in such a way that the French Walnut forearm on grandpa's Belgian BAR disqualifies it, since it "partly or completely encircles the barrel" and is there to prevent the shooter's hand from being burned. We're again seeing the results of letting people who know nothing about something try to regulate that very thing. It's as if a guy who's never been to the zoo is writing a bill outlawing elephants, which are defined as "four-legged mammals with tusks".

All questions of whether this passes the Constitutionality sniff test aside, it's stuff like this that really erodes what little faith in government I have, (...and that ain't much, folks.) If they're this astoundingly inept when writing legislation about an industry I'm familiar with, then they are probably also equally clueless when writing legislation to muck up other industries I don't know anything about, such as agriculture or banking. Now that's scary.


3yellowdogs said...

"If they're this astoundingly inept when writing legislation about an industry I'm familiar with, then they are probably also equally clueless when writing legislation to muck up other industries I don't know anything about, such as agriculture or banking."

Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding!

Give the little lady a prize!

In that one astonished observation, she put her finger on the crux of the problem. Congress, in its infinite wisdom, is anything but wise. Their stock in trade is doing exactly this quality of work on an alarmingly consistent basis.

Bills are written by staffers, lobbyists and "advisors" who purportedly have some knowledge of the issue at hand. Why? Well, because the guy cashing the treasury check with his name on the door certainly doesn't know anything about the problem.

To a certain extent, you can understand this. No one could be expected to have enough expertise to do a good job drafting legislation on all of the diverse topics Congress gets involved in. And that's another problem. We already have too much in the Federal Register as it is, but nothing scares congressional leadership more than the prospect of election time rolling around and your opponents screaming about the "do-nothing Congress".

I, for one, would be perfectly happy with more than a little do-nothing-ism. What say we give the 535 people in the big domed building a couple of years off (along with their staff and the concomittant lobbying brigades) and see what happens.

Other than confirming federal and SCOTUS judges, I can't think of one possible negative result.

How 'bout you?

Anonymous said...

I'm hard pressed to find anything wrong with mandates to both cut the federal budget by 2/3 and simultaneously limiting Congressional sessions to 30 days every other year. Consider it an anti-terrorism measure: if Congress isn't there, it's not a target.

For the 670 days between sessions we can rent the Capitol out for parties and wedding receptions.

David said...

We really need to zumbo Congress about this nonense.

B&N said...

"If anything, it spurred interest in these guns."

Funny you should say this, as I've been of the same mind for a while.

Personally, I was never into the EBRs that much before the ban, and ended up taking an interest in it, just to stick it to The Man. Strangely, over the course of doing that, I've found out that I'm more of a shooter than I ever was a hunter, though I still do that.

It all just ended up revolving around principle, which the government cronnies are always seriously lacking.

3yellowdogs has identified a great deal of the problem that the current citizery faces, an army of people who just have a need to write more laws, either because they are naive enough to think that they will be effectual at solving the 'problem' or just because, as Chuck Schumer said, "I have a passion to legislate."

Thanks for another great post Tam!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one to notice the built in "compromises"?

If we scream loud enough, they will be willing to drop the guns like the Mini-14 and 10-22,then claim it is "just a Reasonable law to close "loopholes".

Rob said...

I've long said the `94 ban caused the huge surge in 1911s. Everybody and his brother makes them now. If you can only have 10 rounds, may as well make `em big!

Anonymous said...

I was reading recently that, after the Exxon Valdez spill, Congress ordered all new tankers to have double hulls. The only problem is that a double hull could not stop damage the ship sustained. Not only that, but the ship was already double-bottomed and that's where it was hit.

Basically, it was a useless law. It wouldn't change anything except cost money.

Tower Tales said...

all I can tell you is that if by some miracle, this bill passes (I've been writing my congressman, the president/VP and anybody else that will listen saying that I oppose this for precisely the same reasons 3yellowdogs stated.) I will be in violation of the federal laws of this united states. I will NOT turn in any weapon I own to the U.S. Government. period. you may see me in the news one day..or a likeness of me.
as long as the Government has ONE firearm, I'll own them too.
+1 david on Zumbro'ing congress...thats a good one!

just my 2 cents.

Kaylee said...

"Am I the only one to notice the built in "compromises"?"

Yup. M1 carbine to.

"Give me all your money!
Okay.. give me half your money. Let's compromise." grrrrr

Steve Skubinna said...

anno 3:42, yes, the damage Exxon Valdez took would have gone right through a double bottom. There is a far better solution, involving a tween deck at about water line that would have drastically reduced a spill, due to more equal pressure at the breach.

Problem was, it had been developed by a Japanese shipyard, and nobody in the US was going to be paying royalties to foreigners, however good the idea was.

But of the solutions examined, the double bottom was the worst.

tkdkerry said...

...then they are probably also equally clueless when writing legislation to muck up other industries I don't know anything about...

Ah, the Gell-Mann effect, IIRC. He noted how a person has the tendency to realize the media butchers the truth in areas that he knows about, but willingly accepts equally botched bullshit when the media addresses areas outside his expertise. I'm constantly reminding myself of this.

Anonymous said...

Taken from the 1911 forums.


New Name: Homeland Defense Rifles


Do not use the term "assault rifle" for obvious reasons.

Start calling them "Homeland Defense Rifles".

Want to ban them? Do you have a problem with America's security?
Don't you love your country? Want to remain safe?
Are liberal Democrats against Homeland Defense?

stephellison2002 said...

Hey, hello!!!

Is anyone keeping tabs on the status of HB 1022? What is going on? My friend at work said that activity suddenly jump-started on this one. SOMEBODY find out if there has been any activity afoot in the last two weeks!