I’ve been holding my nose and reading through SB 150, Dianne Feinstein’s unconstitutional sludge of gun bans and slippery definitions. None of us should be surprised that there’s plenty of dark smelly stuff buried in there, because that’s what you’re going to find when you snoop around under the occupied outhouse that is the Congressional gun-control caucus. If you want the scatological details and can stand the aroma, hold your own nose and make the jump . . .
The explicit bans on ARs and AKs are bad enough, but SB 150 conceals even more of its malice in the “Related Definitions” section. Pistol grips, folding stocks and barrel shrouds are given legal definitions which stretch and distort their ordinary English meanings beyond any recognition. She doesn’t just want your ARs: she wants everything. She’s just taking your ARs first.
DiFi harbors an extreme and pathological hatred for those shoulder things that go up. Or go in. Or go out, or over, or around…or anything. In fact, the distinguished Senator’s foldingstockophobia is so virulent that I’m starting to think her mother was run over by a delivery truck full of folding rifle stocks.
Any semi-auto (and perhaps any firearm period) is banned if it’s equipped with a “telescoping, folding or detachable stock.” It gets worse from here, because as Inigo Montoya noted, I do not think that means what you think it means. DiFi’s definition includes any
“stock that folds, telescopes, detaches or otherwise operates to reduce the size, length or any other dimension, or otherwise enhances the concealability, of a firearm.”
This obviously includes adjustable and removable cheek rests, adjustable-length target stocks, and possibly even removable recoil pads. It also includes any stock that moves in any way whatsoever, or which can be removed. Since any stock can be removed, this could be expansively read to ban just about anything you can put your shoulder against. As stupid as that sounds, it’s also consistent with DiFi’s unbelievably broad definition of ‘pistol grip’, below.
The Shroud Hoax
Every long gun needs to give you somewhere to put your support hand. When I see the front end of an AK or AR, I see a ‘fore-end.’ And when I read ‘barrel shroud’ I think of the perforated steel shroud of an MG34 or M1919 light machinegun, or maybe a phony suppressor on a semi-auto MAC-10 clone.
Boy was I wrong, at least according to this bill. DiFi defines a ‘barrel shroud’ as
“…a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles, the barrel of a firearm so that the shroud protects the user of the firearm from heat generated by the barrel; and…does not include (i) a slide that partially or completely encloses the barrel; or an extension of the stock along the bottom of the barrel which does not encircle or substantially encircle the barrel.”
This definition would actually ban the M1 Garand and Mini-14, but those popular rifles are strangely exempted. I characterize this ‘definition’ as another part of the anti-gunners’ attempt to roll back civilian arms to the dawn of the 20th century: anything that looks too modern is evil.
And maybe they’re right. After all, people don’t kill people: barrel shrouds kill people.
Pistol Grip Paranoia
If you thought the definition of ‘barrel shroud’ was a bit, well, inclusive, take a gander at this:
“The term ‘pistol grip’ means a grip, a thumb-hole stock, or any other characteristic that can function as a grip.”
“Any other characteristic?” Really? If guns were shaped like bowling balls, DiFi would save the children by banning finger holes.
This inartful (or brilliantly deceptive) wording seems to open the door to banning ALL semi-auto rifles, instead of merely the 200 or so that DiFi bothers to list by name. If you can grip it, it must have some characteristic that functions as a grip, right? That means it’s a ‘pistol grip’ in DiFi-land, and that means it’s an ‘assault weapon.’
This bit of definitional sophistry reminds me of Robert Preston’s song “Ya Got Trouble (Right Here In River City) ” in 1962’s The Music Man, but I digress and there’s plenty more to discuss.
Ban The Belt And Spare The Child!
DiFi takes special care to ban belt-fed semiautomatic rifles, because we all know they’re responsible for
giving repulsive demagogues panic attacks thousands of deaths each year. I’m not aware of a single violent crime in the last fifty years which involved a belt-fed semiautomatic rifle, but DiFi urges us to think of the children and ban them just in case.
Expressio Unius, Exclusio Alterius
It is a rule of statutory interpretation that when a law lists certain items, it implicitly excludes all others. SB 150 benevolently lists a paltry handful of semi-autos which we subjects will be permitted to retain. Every other semi-auto, by implication, is forbidden.
What’s allowed is listed on a very short list, and it includes only the following: Garands, Mini-14s and M1 carbines (but remember, no shoulder thingies that go up), Remington 740s, Marlin Camp Carbines, Browning BARs (the hunting kind) and SKS’s with original 10-round magazines. She also seems to have a warm spot for discontinued and supremely expensive H&K hunting semi-automatic rifles, but so do I. It’s very convenient for DiFi that most of these exempt patterns (H&Ks, Marlins, Garands and M1 Carbines) aren’t in production any more, and BAR hunting rifles are very uncommon and very expensive.
SKSs and Mini-14s are okay. (For now, with small magazines and wooden stocks and no barrel shrouds and no flash hiders and no bayonet lugs and no threaded barrels and no grenade launcher sights.) But if ‘safety’ is the goal I really don’t understand why these two designs should get a pass.
After all, they’re common enough that they’ve actually been used (albeit very rarely) in at least a few crimes and gang shootings, while FALs and Calicos and H&Ks and Benelli M4s (and on and on and on) have had basically zero use in connection with any violent crimes ever.
I guess we’re supposed to ignore this illogic (and the greater illogic of the whole bill) and be grateful that our rulers would let us keep any semi-automatic rifles at all.
Where Are The Exempt Handguns?
There aren’t any, but there are a lot of forbidden ones. Any handgun (Tec-9) which doesn’t hold its magazine in the pistol grip is banned, as well as any handgun (Walther SP22) with a barrel shroud that’s not the slide, as well as any handgun (SIGs) with a threaded barrel, or any with a second pistol grip (which are already AOW’s under the NFA rules) or any (Grendel) with a fixed magazine over 10 rounds, or any pistol (Glock) which is a semi-auto version of a fully automatic pistol.
There is no list of exempt handguns, and this lack of any ‘safe harbor’ provisions leaves the door open for more expansive administrative definitions and rulemaking in the future.
DiFi’s Book Of Lists
None of the definitions of ‘assault weapon’ include any manually-operated firearms at all. So why the hell does DiFi devote 95 of the bill’s 122 pages to listing all of the pumps, single-shots, bolts, levers and doubles that aren’t banned?
It’s simple: it’s a sympathy play for the fence-sitters and a talking point for the antis. She’s trying to show how ‘reasonable’ this bill is by showing all of the firearm patterns that it’s not banning right now. She’s trying to show how generous and reasonable she is, and how obstructionist and unreasonable the rest of us are by comparison. Few fence-sitters will recognize that nearly every ‘exempt’ gun on the list traces its design back to the 19th century.
This truly awful bill isn’t meant to save a single life or prevent a single tragedy. It’s meant to be the camel’s nose under the wall of the tent, DiFi’s first strike against the most scary-looking of firearms. But its language is so slippery and inclusive that all semi-autos will have their head on the chopping block if it passes.
And any new firearms designs, even some hypothetical pump-action 5.56 with proprietary 10-round detachable magazines or a hypothetical electrically-cycled repeating shotgun, will start out its life as a ‘non-exempt’ firearm and have to run the gauntlet of ‘prohibited’ design features.
I’ve given you an idea of how bad this would be if it ever became law, but let’s never find out. Time to call your Senators. Again.