“weapons of war”, meme edition

WeaponsOfWar

WeaponsThatKill

And, of course, there is always the interesting topic that unless they are reservists or otherwise bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice, police officers / law enforcement officers / sheriffs / etc. are civilians themselves.  Yes, there are a few “gun control” extremists who want us to pull a once-Great-Britain and disarm our police*, but by and large they have no problems with actual “weapons of war” being on our streets… so long as they are being carried by The Right People.

And lest you believe that the law enforcement officers’ training is exceptional or unachievable by the average man… well, that is simply not true.

 

(* – Of course, the Brits are realizing the error of that particular decision.  Slowly, granted, but still.)

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“weapons of war”?

Now that “gun control” is back in the national attention, the usual suspects are demanding that we, once again, pass a federal “assault weapons ban”, with one of the reasons for doing so being, “‘military-style’ ‘weapons of war’ do not belong on our streets!”

Ignore, for a second, that law enforcement agencies – at all levels – already are using actual military hardware and actual weapons of war on our streets, up to and including armored fighting vehicles.

Ignore, for a second, that basically none of the firearms prohibited under the last, failed “Assault Weapons Ban” were used by regular militaries or in wars.

Instead, allow us to ask a relatively simple question: do “gun control” extremists even know what a “weapon of war” is?

We have touched on this concept briefly before, but I think it is time for a deeper dive.  Consider the following examples:

 

1891

This is a “weapon of war”, and one of the highest sniper kill counts recorded was achieved with a rifle like this one, but it was not covered by the previous federal AWB or any state’s ban.  (Incidentally, it is also not legally considered a firearm, given this specific example was manufactured before 1899.)


 

blackhawk-axiom-r-f-stock-ruger-10-22-57

This is not a “weapon of war”, but it would have been covered by the previous AWB.  (The stock did not exist at the time, and the fact that it is a .22LR rifle is immaterial to the federal ban; after all, “gun control” extremists hate rimfire rifles.)


webley02

This is a weapon of war – quite possibly both in the UK and Israel, based on its proof marks – but was not covered by the previous AWB.


keltec-cmr-30-rifle-angled-oleg-volk

This is not a weapon of war, and would have been covered by the federal AWB.  (Once again, this particular rifle did not exist at the time, but all of the recent calls for a new “assault weapon ban” take the old law and make it even more expansive, so I feel certain this particular firearm would be included.)


3664

This is a weapon of war, and, in fact, one so terrifyingly effective that the Germans protested its use during World War 1.  However, it was not covered by the AWB.


e906a068c66ea86debacb68edee85154

This is not a weapon of war, but it was included in the ’94 ban – in fact, it was one of the specifically-named firearms.


1807

This is a weapon of war, and was once referred to as “the greatest battle implement ever developed“.  It was not subject to the “assault weapon ban”.


escort_raider_ar

This is not a weapon of war, but would have been prohibited by the AWB.


serbian-yugo-sks-762x39-surplus-rifle55

This very much is a weapon of war, and might be one of the most pervasive examples of the concept.  However, it was not banned by the federal AWB.


download

This is not a weapon of war, but would still be banned under a repeat federal AWB.


Are you starting to see a pattern?

If “gun control” extremists actually want to ban “weapons of war”… why are they not calling for actual weapons of war to be banned with their zombie “assault weapon ban”?

And if all they want to do with this rotting, shambling piece of legislation is only ban “weapons of war” – as they’ve been trying to proclaim for nearly a month now – then why is all that other stuff included in the blast radius?

Perhaps they have no idea what they are talking about.

And perhaps they are being… less than honest.

In either case, why should we take them – or their desires – seriously?

(Note:  Mosin Nagant image copyright 7.62x54r.net.  10/22 image copyright LA Police Gear.  Kel-Tec CMR image copyright Cheaper Than Dirt / Oleg Volk.  Winchester 1897 image copyright Rock Island Auction.  Intratec TEC-9 image copyright EGunner.  M1 Garand image copyright Rock Island Auction.  Hatsan Escort Raider image copyright Hatsan.  SKS image copyright Classic Firearms.  Kel-Tec SU-16E image copyright Sportsman’s Guide.)

they hate them because they are black

Ask the average “gun control” extremist what their desires are, and they will assure you – ad nauseam – that your “hunting” rifles are safe, and all they want to get rid of are those dangerous “weapons of mass destruction” known as “assault weapons”.

While I think I have done an adequate job demonstrating how the very notion of an “assault weapon ban” is, itself, a meaningless, futile falsehood designed exclusively to attack any firearm the “gun control” organizations happen to not like that day, I have not yet addressed the above “argument”.

Not terribly shocking, they are lying – your hunting rifles are emphatically not safe from “gun control” extremists.

Consider the following tweet from Shannon Watts – if you do not know the name, I do not blame you, but suffice to say that she is the figurehead of an ineffective, astroturf, rabidly-anti-rights “gun control” organization:

screencapture-twitter-shannonrwatts-status-969572513154936833-1520297681222.png

Take a good look at that rifle.

It is undoubtedly scary to people who do not know better – it has an adjustable stock, a pistol grip, an extended magazine, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel, and – perhaps worst of all – it is painted black.

Now consider this rifle:

8359

It has none of the objectionable ergonomic features, and, best of all, it is attired in a perfectly acceptable, fuddish color scheme.

Alright, have you reflected on the differences between those two rifles sufficiently? Allow me to let you in on a little secret:

They are the same rifle.

The Ruger Precision Rimfire rifle and the Ruger American Rimfire rifle are both bolt-action, removable-magazine-fed rifles chambered in .22 Long Rifle. In fact, both use the same magazines; you could literally drop the magazine out of the Evil Black Rifle, insert it into the traditional wooden rifle, and keep on shooting with the latter. Likewise, they use the same bolts, and the stainless steel action and barrel will drop in that black stock with just the turn of a few screws.

Oh, and the real kicker? The wood-stocked rifle has four more inches of barrel, yielding up to 60 additional feet per second of velocity for the bullet, meaning the “classic-looking” firearm is strictly more powerful.

So, allow us to recap: the head of a national “gun control” organization wants to obstruct legal adults from buying firearms that employ 194-year-old technology, which, in turn, has been at the heart of most hunting rifles since the turn of the last century. Even worse, these rifles are chambered in one of the most – if not the most – common hunting caliber for about as long.

Tell me again how our “hunting rifles” are safe.

2729805

are gun sales down under president trump?

One of the favorite tactics of the “gun control” extremists for the past eight years or so is to decry pro-rights activists as “racists”, and use the massive uptick of firearm sales during and immediately prior to Obama’s administration as “proof”.  I cannot say as though I understand that rationale myself, especially since both then-Senator and then-President Obama are on record as wanting to ban semi-automatic firearms, ban handguns, ban firearms based on aesthetic features, ban lawful carry of firearms, and so forth – you know, the kinds of things that would prompt people to purchase something before it became unavailable – but the “gun control” movement has never been big on logic.

In any case, now that Obama is no longer in office, the “gun control” extremists are using the supposedly decreased firearm sales as further “proof” of the “racist” nature of the pro-rights advocates, as well as “proof” that firearm owners are a “dying breed”, and on, and on, and on.

But are gun sales actually down?  

The answer to that question is, “Given predictable, seasonal trends, not particularly.”

First, there is no 100% reliable metric for the number of firearms sold at Federal Firearm Licensees (i.e. gun stores).  Yes, the FBI does publish the number of National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) checks performed every month, but the caveat at the bottom of that PDF is very important:

These statistics represent the number of firearm background checks initiated through the NICS. They do not represent the number of firearms sold. Based on varying state laws and purchase scenarios, a one-to-one correlation cannot be made between a firearm background check and a firearm sale.

For example, in North Carolina, if one has a Concealed Handgun Permit in good standing, a purchaser still has to fill out a Form 4473, but no NICS check must be performed.  Likewise, there is no limit to the number of firearms that can be purchased on a single NICS check, so one check can be one firearm, or one check can be a hundred.

All that said, most parties – both in the “gun control” camp and in the pro-rights camp – consider NICS checks to be at least an indicator of how the firearm sales market is doing.  Just bear in mind that it is not an accounting of actual sales, and does not even provide an actual floor for the numbers.

Second, how do you quantify “down”?

If one looks at the average monthly NICS checks for the past four Presidents, you will see that President Trump is actually in the lead:

AverageMonthlyNICS

But that is not a strictly fair comparison, since he has only had four months in office, while Obama had 96 (for the sake of simplicity, despite United States Presidents being inaugurated on the 20th of January, I am counting their time in office from the first of February to the 31st of January, since the data is provided on a by-month basis).

So what about the actual number of NICS checks per month?

NICSChecksByMonth

So a few things stand out on this chart.

On the one hand, firearms are apparently a very popular Christmas gift, and the NICS checks reflect this seasonal nature.

On the other hand, there has been an almost steady increase in NICS checks since 2002 – seven years before Obama took office.

On the gripping hand, yes, NICS checks did peak out at 3,314,594 in December of 2015, and, likewise, are now at 1,942,677 in May of 2017.

The problem with simply calling out those two months, however, is that it is blatant cherry-picking.  It is true that the peak checks in Obama’s presidency is higher than the lowest checks in President Trump’s time in office, but that does not even come close to telling us if the total checks are down under the new President.

For example, as I said previously, there is an obvious seasonal nature to NICS checks, with December almost invariably being “high season”, and May or June typically being the “low season”.  In fact, if one looks at the percentage drop from the peak month in one year to the low month in the following year, you will see that President Trump’s May is doing better than average, and, in fact, the second-largest seasonal drop happened during Obama’s administration:

NICSPercentageDrop

Likewise, note that this past May – likely either the low month for this year, or close to it – still had more checks than any May before it.

The fact is, firearm sales have been massively trending upwards for the past 14 years.  Given that the trend started well before an African-American President, and given that the President in question was adamantly and openly anti-rights,  the allegations of “racism” are about as valid as trying to claim that firearm sales are “down” based on all of four months of data.

That is to say, not at all valid.

(Note:  This is not to say that firearm sales are not going to drop during President Trump’s term(s), just that claiming that they are “down” already is incorrect at the time of this post.  Someone else is more than welcome to try to do predictive analytics on the numbers (*.xlsx file), but seasonal averages with an underlying trend are a pain in the ass, and I am not willing to undertake that at this time.)

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 5

One final nail in the coffin of “assault weapon” bans is that there is no single, universal definition of “assault weapons”, so what is it, exactly, that statists want to prohibit?

Wait, no actual definition of “assault weapon”?  What do you mean?

The Federal ban of 1994 did set something of a foundation for all of the future, state bans, but even those deviated enough from the template as to have almost no consistent classification.  Consider the below table for a comparison of all the various laws’ restrictions and regulations:

assaultweaponbancomparison

“Y” of course indicates that the law at the top of the column has a restriction on the feature to the left in the row, and “N” means there is no such restriction in that law.

“I” indicates that multiple laws have similar restrictions, but they are inconsistent on the details.  For example. the California “assault weapon” ban prohibits semi-automatic firearms with fixed magazines and capacities greater than 10 rounds, while New Jersey sets that bar at 15.  Likewise, the lists of specific makes/models are so wildly different – and frequently target firearms no longer even produced – that it would take a whole separate table to adequately compare them.

Finally, Hawaii can be largely disregarded for anything except pistols – their laws are largely silent on rifles and shotguns.

So let us look at rifles.  All relevant states seem to agree that semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines as well as folding or telescoping stocks, flash suppressors, and grenade launchers are evil, though they cannot agree on whether only one of those final three items is enough for the whole rifle to be evil, or if two are required.

If you examine the table, you will see that there are another nine features for rifles that may or may not be evil, but the states simply cannot seem to agree on the finer points.

Even more amusingly, grenade launchers are already heavily regulated by the National Firearms Act, and both they and their ammunition are impressively difficult and painfully expensive to procure.  Additionally, Connecticut goes to the point of classifying rifles capable of “fully-automatic” or “burst” fire as “assault weapons”, despite those already being massively regulated and functionally banned by the combination of the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act.

“Double Secret Probation” was supposed to be a joke, not reality.

Moving on to pistols, Maryland is largely silent on them, aside from providing a list of makes/models that constitute “assault pistols” and then only permitting firearms on the “handgun roster” to be sold in the state, so we will disregard them for this section.  The remainder of the states seem to agree that semiautomatic pistols with detachable magazines as well as a magazine that inserts into the firearm somewhere other than the pistol grip, threaded barrels, and barrel shrouds are all evil, but, again, the “one feature” / “two feature” tests are inconsistent among the laws.

Seven other features are mentioned by various laws, including some positively bone-headed ones like pistols with folding or telescoping stocks, or pistols with thumbhole stocks.  I hate to break it to the fine legislators of the great state of New York, but there is no such thing as a “pistol” with a folding or telescoping stock – federally, a firearm with a pistol-length barrel and a shoulderable stock is a short-barreled rifle, and, again, is subject to the National Firearms Act.

It’s always comforting when legislators have no idea what they’re regulating.

Finally, when it comes to shotguns, the only thing the relevant laws can agree is evil is a semi-automatic shotgun with a folding or telescoping stock, or any shotgun with a revolving cylinder.

The laws cannot seem to agree on any of the other four possible restrictions, including detachable magazines, oddly enough; those are a consistent point of contention for rifles and pistols, but apparently are less of a problem for shotguns.  Of course, handguns with revolving cylinders are perfectly acceptable in any of the jurisdictions that are or were limited by “assault weapon” bans, but revolving cylinders are apparently evil for shotguns.

Consistency has never been a strong point for “gun control” legislation, or supporters.

So what do “gun control” supporters mean when they say they want to ban “assault weapons”?  No one knows, not even them.  But that’s why the concept is so powerful – it can be redefined and re-engineered to demonize any firearm that the very few funders of the “gun control” movement care to target.  One wonders if those being blindly lead around by those few 1%ers realize how little they, or their supported politicians, know about the very things they are trying to restrict.

Original Excel File

References:  

Public Law 103-322 Title XI Subtitle A Section 110102 Subsection (b), also known as the Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act

California Penal Code 30510-30515

Connecticut General Statute Title 53 Section 202a

Hawaii Code Division 1 Title 10 Section 134-1

Maryland Code Title 4 Subtitle 3 Section 4-301

Massachusetts General Law Part I Title XX Chapter 140 Section 121

New Jersey State Code Title 14 Chapter 54 Subchapter 1

New York Penal Law Part 3 Title P Article 265 Section 00 Subsection (22)

Disclaimer:

I am not a lawyer, I did not play one on television, and I did not stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night.  It is entirely possible that I misread the miles of legalese I just waded through over the past few days, and either missed a pertinent detail, or misread one.  If you find or notice any errors in the above table and associated post, please feel free to let me know, and I’ll update it accordingly.

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 4

Now that we’ve covered a variety of ways in which “assault weapon bans” do not and cannot meet their purported goals, let’s hear from the experts with regards to the efficacy of the 1994 Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act, otherwise known as the “federal ‘assault weapons ban'”.  Unfortunately, this post will be markedly lacking in the “pretty pictures” department, aside from the above photo of the author with his not-actually-an-“assault-weapon”, as captured by the inimitable Oleg Volk.

To start you off, we’ll do something simple.  According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Report for 2003, 390 people were murdered by criminals using a rifle, accounting for approximately 2.71% of the total number of murders that year (see table 2.12 – it’s a downloadable *.xls).  2003 is significant because it is the last full year that the federal “assault weapons ban” was in place, and arguably the year wherein its greatest impact could be felt.  Likewise, the overwhelming majority of “assault weapons” are rifles, hence the focus thereon.

Said ban ended, as designed, in 2004, and according to those who support it, the flood of “assault weapons” that followed should have driven that number of murders through the roof.  According to the FBI’s UCR for 2014 – the most recent year available – criminals employing rifles killed 248 people, accounting for approximately 2.07% of the total number of murders.

Not only did the total number of murders go down from 2003 to 2014, but the total number of murders that involved rifles went down faster.

In fairness, though, prohibiting firearms with specific aesthetic features was only part of the ’94 ban; another significant portion was banning the production and sale of new magazines over a certain, arbitrary capacity limit.  So… how much of an impact did that have on things?

An unpublished research report submitted to the National Institute for Justice in 2004 had this to say on the matter:

Because the ban has not yet reduced the use of LCMs in crime, we cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.

“LCM” is, of course, shorthand for “large capacity magazine”, a wholly incorrect way of describing the standard-capacity magazines that came, as a standard accessory, with “assault weapons” before the ineffective ban.

The 2013 Summary of Select Firearm Violence Prevention Strategies published by the National Institute of Justice followed up to this report with:

With an exemption the impact of the restrictions would only be felt when the magazines degrade or when they no longer are compatible with guns in circulation. This would take decades to realize.

In other words, a magazine ban would only work if the government were able to convince every American citizen to give up their prohibited magazines, and given that New York has had maybe 4% compliance with their ill-named SAFE Act… well, good luck with that.

Circling back to that 2004 report, its opinion of the ban as a whole was not… encouraging for its supporters:

However, the decline in AW use was offset throughout at least the late 1990s by steady or rising use of other guns equipped with LCMs in jurisdictions studied (Baltimore, Milwaukee, Louisville, and Anchorage). The failure to reduce LCM use has likely been due to the immense stock of exempted pre-ban magazines, which has been enhanced by recent imports.

[…]

Should it be renewed, the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.

In other words, whatever marginal impact the “assault weapon ban” had on crime was already offset by criminals employing other tools – including ones grandfathered into the ban – to perpetrate their crimes.

The 2013 Summary dashes the hopes of “assault weapon ban” supporters even harder:

Assault weapons are not a major contributor to gun crime. The existing stock of assault weapons is large, undercutting the effectiveness of bans with exemptions.

[…]

Prior to the 1994 ban, assault weapons were used in 2-8% of crimes. Therefore a complete elimination of assault weapons would not have a large impact on gun homicides.

A National Academy study of firearms and violence concluded that the weaknesses of the ban and the scientific literature suggest that the assault weapon ban did not have an effect on firearm homicides.

[…]

Since assault weapons are not a major contributor to US gun homicide and the existing stock of guns is large, an assault weapon ban is unlikely to have an impact on gun violence.

Firearms are, to put it mildly, a durable good.  Current estimates have the lowest conceivable number of “assault weapons” in the United States as somewhere around 5,000,000, with the actual numbers potentially being twice or even thrice that.  Any ban like the ’94 ban would leave every last one of those still in circulation and still functional, completely destroying any utility of the ban.

A ban that attempted to retroactively prohibit ownership of already-owned “assault weapons” and confiscate them from their owners would not go well.  The oft-vaunted Australian “buy back”* had a compliance rate of a whopping 19%, and there’s little reason to believe America would achieve higher numbers.

Looking further afield, an article published by Blau, Gorry, and Wade in the Applied Economics journal earlier this year concluded:

In addition, common state and federal gun laws that outlaw assault weapons are unrelated to the likelihood of an assault weapon being used during a public shooting event. Moreover, results show that the use of assault weapons is not related to more victims or fatalities than other types of guns.

They did find that the use of “high capacity” magazines correlated with an increased number of victims, but also found that the use of shotguns – almost completely unrestricted by bans – correlated with an even greater increase in the number of victims.

Another letter published by Gius in 2013 in the Applied Economics Letters journal stated:

It was also found that assault weapons bans did not significantly affect murder rates at the state level.

On a related note, states with restrictive concealed carry laws were found to have higher firearm-related murder rates.

The most salutary thing a government agency can say about the “assault weapon ban” seems to have come from the Centers for Disease Control in their initial evaluation of the efficacy of various firearm laws:

Results of studies of firearms and ammunition bans were inconsistent: certain studies indicated decreases in violence associated with bans, and others indicated increases.

[…]

In summary, the Task Force found insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws reviewed for preventing violence.

It’s worth noting that the “laws reviewed” also included waiting periods, firearm registration, licensing of owners, restrictions on concealed carry, and other such “gun control” favorites.

“Assault weapon bans” can’t work mechanically, haven’t worked historically, and won’t work analytically.  Given that record of abject failure – or, at the very best, a record devoid of any successes – why do “gun control” advocates continue to call for these pointless and ineffective bans at almost every opportunity?

Perhaps your safety is not actually their priority?

(* – Like “assault weapon”, “buy back” is a 1984-worthy example of rectifying the language to engender support of a cause.  Firstly, how does a government buy something back when they never owned the “something” to begin with?  Secondly, employing the word “buy” implies that the exchange was voluntary, while the Australian “buy back”, and some American ones, are little more than mandatory confiscation with the arguable benefit of some limited compensation.)

the ineffectiveness of “assault weapon bans”, part 3

Once again, I will have some pictures for you to consider, but first a little backstory.

One of the favorite arguments of those who support “assault weapon bans” is that a purpose/goal of the prohibitions is to keep “military” or “military-style” firearms out of the hands of private citizens.

Ignore, for a moment, that at the time of the Second Amendment’s ratification, every long arm, short arm, or other firearm-like device was both “military” and in the hands of private citizens.  Likewise, ignore that the Second Amendment was written to preserve exactly that kind of arrangement.

And, finally, ignore the entire concept of “military-style” – after all, how does the physical appearance of a device affect its actual performance?  After all, this looks a lot like this, but I guarantee you they are radically different (the first is an airsoft device, to begin with).

So, the remaining question is “Do ‘assault weapon bans’ actually keep military hardware out of the hands of American citizens?”

Well, here are your three firearms for consideration:

A:  

1891

B:

1926

C:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And your first question: which of these are “military firearms”?

If you answered anything but “B”, I hate to break it to you, but you are wrong.

A is not legally considered a firearm, considering that it is a first-generation Mosin-Nagant Model 1891, and was thus produced before 1899.  Even if the firearm-looking device is an exact duplicate of a firearm still currently being made and using still-available ammunition, if that specific firearm-looking device left an assembly line before 1899, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms considers it to be an “antique”.

Granted, Mosins are not still being produced, but the Model 1891 featured above does chamber still-commercially-produced 7.62x54r ammunition.  However, thanks to its “antique” designation, it can be mail-ordered without involving a Federal Firearm Licensee – after all, it is not a firearm.

Firearm or not, it is almost a guarantee that the entirety of the first generation of Mosins saw service in the Soviet Union at some point, simply because between 1891 and now that country has been involved in almost non-stop conflicts, both external and internal.

B is a Finnish M91 produced between 1926 and 1927, and it almost unquestionably was a military firearm, courtesy of that country’s incessant border disputes with Russia, and that whole unpleasantness in the 1940s.

C is an AR-15 I purchased a few years back as a bare receiver and built up, and has never seen a day of military service in its short life.  Further, the AR-15 platform is used by basically no military, simply because those militaries can and do avail themselves of the significantly more capable M-16 and M4 platforms.

Now, the fun question: which of those firearms is subject to “assault weapon bans”?

If you have read the first two posts of this series, you probably already know the answer; the only firearm above subject to “assault weapon bans” is C.

The other two are actual military weapons that very likely were used by military personnel to kill other human beings, but it is the firearm that was never used by a military, from a model of firearm that was basically never used by the military, that people are so very concerned with.  If one wants to get truly specific, the combination of the National Firearms Act and the Hughes Amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act already make it functionally impossible for American citizens to procure most of even the types of firearms being used by militaries today, much less the actual, specific hardware.  But old military hardware?  90% of it, or more, is available for the purchasing, and some of it does not even require background checks, per the BATFE themselves.

So, no, “assault weapon bans” have absolutely nothing to do with the military heritage – or lack thereof, in almost all cases – of the firearms being banned.  Unfortunately, like so many of these talking points, that particular one is not likely to be dissuaded by facts.

(Mosin-Nagant images borrowed from 7.62x54r.net’s outstanding Mosin Identification page.)