Sunday, December 23, 2012

GNB: What could happen

After the senseless murder in Newtown, CT, there has been calls for another Assault Weapon Ban. Opponents of the Second amendment believe banning all semi-auto rifles would somehow prevent similar tragedies. Such argument falls flat when you look at FBI data(link)

Out of instruments used, rifles are accounted for 3% of the murder, half of hands, fists, and etc. Even if we (mistakenly) assume that all of unknown types are rifles, it is 16% at the most. This runs contrary to what AWB supporters are arguing about. Banning semi-auto rifles is not going to accomplish what they claim to do.

However, such reasoning is not really going to work. There are quite a few times when politics and logic don't go hand-in-hand. That has driven sales of AR rifles and other 'evil looking' semi-auto rifles to an unprecedented level.

So what could happen from this point on?

Most we can do at this point is speculate but here is a possible sequence of scenarios.

1. The Biden commission could come up with a new AWB
2. Congress votes on it
3. If it passes both chambers, Obama will sign it
4. The law gets taken to the Supreme court

First, let's take a look at step #1

Biden commission will deliver its recommendation in January, and current speculation is that it will call for another AWB. This seems to be the most agreed upon scenario. If the AWB is a copy of the 1994 version, it is unclear how far it will reach. 1994 version had 10 year sunset provision, which was needed in order to pass.

Then in step #2, congress has to vote. For US Congress to pass a bill, it has to pass both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Democrats hold 53 out of 100 seats in Senate and Republicans hold 233 out of 433 in the House. (2013)

Assuming that the Senate votes along the party line, the bill will clear without much problem. When it gets to the House, again assuming votes along the party line, it will not pass.

However, there is a problem. Some Republicans have shown signs of defection on the issue. If there are more than 7 Republicans that vote for AWB, it will likely pass(assuming no Democrat votes against it).

The key is to make sure no one defects, or even if they do, there are less than 7. If that can be secured, then the bill most likely would not make it to the Oval office. Some Democrats in rural area are also weary about AWB, so it will be an interesting dynamic if the vote actually happens.

Step #3 is more or less a given. I don't think there is an argument that would support the opposite

Step #4 is where it becomes the major battle. Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that the Second amendment is an individual right.

If for some reason the new AWB is passed and signed it would be challenged in court. By restricting sales of certain rifles, AWB risks being "a prohibition on an entire class of arms."

One of the rumors floating around is making semi-auto rifles a NFA item. This probably would skirt the 'prohibition on an entire class of arms' since gun grabbers would argue that NFA items can be bought and sold. However, it also accomplishes nothing.

First, National Firearms Act requires action of congress. If the congress votes along the party line, there is very little chance that it will make it up to the White House. Even if it passes, the firearms need to be registered.

In 1983, FCC changed rules so that individual license is not needed for a CB device. This was due to the fact that FCC could not keep up with all the demands for license as CBs became the tool of communication for a lot of people.

Gun registration will have very similar effect. There are millions of guns in US and semi-autos are a significant portion of them. While the tools for registration(internet website for an example) has advanced, the sheer number of guns that would fall under registration could overwhelm any measure of technological preparations.

Furthermore, there is very little support for registration as it does very little to reduce crimes. The guns are still there and registration will not save people from getting shot by psychos.

What to do
So far there has been many talks on the issue. The foremost thing to do is to write representatives and senators and let your voice be heard. Democrats needed to place 10 year sunset clause just to pass the AWB back then. It dearly cost them in following congressional election. This time, it is easier to share information and if gun owners can get their act together, AWB probably would not happen. You don't have to write elaborate thesis on why AWB is a bad thing. Make a concise comment on your stance of the issue. Be respectful.

Even if this goes all the way to the Supreme court the chances of AWB actually withstanding the scrutiny is small. However, it is better to stop the fight before it gets bigger and in democratic fashion, it is the best to contact your representatives and senators to express.

It only takes a small complacency to AWB to be back on the books. To prevent the AWB(which accomplishes very little) gun owners need to be on alert, pay attention, and participate in shaping public policies.