Gun Control So Extreme, 1994 Looks Tame

I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays and New Year, and look forward to a happy and healthy… 1993. At least we hope happy and healthy, because for gun rights, that’s the time we’ve gone back to in the wake of the horrible tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

Many of us remember the first fight over this issue in the late 80s and early 90s. Many others only learned, after the ban’s passage, that the term “assault weapon” suddenly defined many common rifles used in competition and by others who shoot recreationally. This fight is shaping up to surpass that one in intensity and scope. Everything is on the table, including confiscation of most modern firearms with semi-automatic action. Common magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition may be banned, and some bills being floated demand confiscation of those magazines.

Multiple lawmakers are piling on with different gun control proposals, and they have made clear that they are unwilling to wait to give us a chance to respond to their ideas.

New Federal Gun Control

By the end of the month, it appears there will be at least a dozen new gun control bills filed in the US House & Senate. The bill getting the most attention in the Senate at the moment is one that would take the previous ban and extend it to every semi-automatic rifle that can accept a detachable magazine. This will cover common rifles like the AR-15, the M1 Carbine, and the Ruger Mini 14, and most or all models of the SKS.

Unlike the previous ban which allowed you to keep firearms and magazines you legally owned before the ban without punishment, this bill will require registration of every single currently owned firearm, under the National Firearms Act, which requires a $200 tax and mandates owners submit photos and fingerprints to the ATF and notify ATF any time you cross a state line with your firearm, even if you’re taking it to a competition. You will never be able to sell or pass on your currently owned firearms covered under the ban to your heirs. This would make semi-automatic rifles more heavily restricted than fully automatic rifles.

Another bill that is getting attention because it has been backed by a Connecticut Senator would require you to go through a federal background check every single time you purchase even one round of ammunition. If you purchase 1,000 rounds or more within a week – in other words, if you pick up 2 bricks of .22 during a sale at Cabela’s – then you must be reported to law enforcement for your purchase.

The other factor in the debate is the White House. On January 9, the Vice President announced to the media that they would be using Executive Orders to enact gun control any time that they could in order to circumvent Congress. Based on what we know about proposals that have floated around the White House before the Connecticut tragedy, this could include measures such as import restrictions to drive up the cost of ammunition beyond its already elevated levels. We will likely see some kind of announcement on these gun controls by the end of January.

The chances of these bills passing largely depend on how much we speak out. Your Senators and Congressman NEED to hear from you now, and again if any bill actually starts to move.

New State Firearm Restrictions

In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Corbett has made clear in multiple reports that he does not believe more gun control on law-abiding citizens is the answer to mass shootings. Rep. Todd Stephens of Montgomery County announced plans to introduce a bill that will require Pennsylvania to submit the records of people banned by mental health restrictions to the federal NICS system.

However, in Bucks County, Rep. Steve Santarsiero (Yardley, Newtown, Lower Makefield) called the continued ownership of legally owned semi-automatic rifles a dangerous “loophole.” He vowed to introduce and push a bill to not only ban the continued sale of common rifles, but one that would mandate confiscation from all gun owners who have previously purchased one.

For any Pennsylvania resident who has a concealed carry permit and plans to travel outside of the state with your firearm, you should be warned that on and after January 15, you need to check the legal status of carrying outside of Pennsylvania on a daily basis. Attorney General-elect Kathleen Kane has already pledged to gun control groups that she will either withdraw from or re-write any reciprocity agreements signed by previous Attorneys General. If you visit a state with an agreement, the agreement could be valid at the beginning of your trip and nullified by the end, leaving you in a position of carrying a gun illegally and subject to prosecution in another state. If she makes these changes, they will likely not receive major press attention, so you must keep up with the state of the agreements or laws in the states you visit every day of your trip.