by Dave Workman
The federal ban on so-called assault weapons is history, but it may be back bigger and badder than before, depending largely upon how the November elections turn out, and whether there is even a single crime that can be turned into a high-profile cause by the anti-gun media.
Joe Waldron, executive director of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms (CCRKBA), predicted to Gun Week that the other side is just waiting for a shooting so they can dance in the blood.
Waldron has a point. Historically, there has been no restraint on the willingness of anti-gunners to capitalize on violence and tragedy to push their political agenda of citizen disarmament. While they call each successive proposal a common sense approach to gun safety, the underlying goal is to regulate gun ownership to the history books.
How soon they might accomplish that depends upon the political landscape on Wednesday morning, Nov. 3. Democrat John Kerry has made it clear he supports expansion of the ban on semi-automatic firearms and full-capacity magazines.
Anti-gun congressional Democrats, who would be returned to positions of control if their party takes back Congress, seem to be biding their time. If Kerry ends up in the White House, his signature on gun control legislation is a sure thing, according to gun rights and anti-gun leaders.
One thing the gun rights community seems convinced about is that if Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House this fall, gone will be any of the goodwill that the party seems to have been promoting toward gunowners over the past few years.
The sunset took many people by surprise because it came 24 hours earlier than they had anticipated. It was commonly thought that the ban ended at midnight on Sept. 13, so that starting at 12:01 a.m. Sept. 14, it would be as though the ban had never existed.
Yet the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) posted on their website that the ban was no longer in effect at 12:01 a.m. on the 13th.
Now that the ban is history, it is legal for private citizens to own full-capacity magazines, including those stamped with that Law Enforcement Only warning, according to ATF. It is also legal to fit your Ruger 10/22 and Mini-14 and Mini-30 rifles with folding stocks, and it is also legal to replace a fixed stock with a collapsible version on AR-type rifles.
Michaels of Oregon advised Gun Week almost immediately that production on Butler Creek 25-round Hot Lips magazines, also banned under the Clinton-era anti-gun legislation, would resume.
Around the country, the end of the 10-year ban seemed to have varying effects, depending upon the region. In several states, the sunset of federal legislation passed without notice due to existence of state legislation that also banned certain guns. California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey residents, for example, have tough state laws. And there are other state and local laws regulating such guns.
What about gun shops?
For a couple of days, a media frenzy ensued at Valley Guns in Owings Mills, MD, where Bill Frank told Gun Week that many people called to ask questions, but there was not a rush in buying as there had been prior to the days in 1994 when the ban took effect (see Hindsight on Page 15).
John Riggio, proprietor at Chucks Gun Shop in Riverdale, IL, also said he began fielding telephone calls and answering questions about firearms and magazines, but sales did not reflect any great rush to the counter.
Most of them were more curious than anything, Riggio said. Every time something like this happens, good or bad, it gets interest up among people.
Riggio said the ATF did a good job on their website and probably saved themselves a lot of stupid phone calls.