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 courtesy AAC


By Stan Harvey

Yes, I said it…now bear with me and resist the urge to grab a nearby trashcan for the nausea caused by hearing that oft-repeated phrase. Anti-gunners often try to monopolize terms, and I’m advocating we reclaim this one. In the dominant political squabble over guns and gun laws, a giant elephant in the room is totally ignored. In the patchwork collection of gun laws to come out of our government over the past century, hardly anyof it deserves to be called “common sense” . . .

This goes far beyond guns, it touches on basic American values under threat that most citizens can appreciate when the debate is framed in the proper way.  Many of us can relate to having a friend or family member who, despite being an otherwise rational person, succumbs to the fear based arguments against guns. In my experience, sometimes you can reach these people when you point out how totally inane or destructive most gun laws are, and the dangers to freedom posed by enforcement agencies without adequate oversight or checks.

We should all be able to agree that regardless of belief, laws should make sense and they should be results oriented. The battle over gun rights is largely a war of attrition, and if we are constantly stuck on the defensive our rights slowly erode away. It’s time we push for REAL common sense in our gun laws.

Anti-gunners are generally wrong on the facts, yet even they are hard pressed to defend much of existing law as being rational. Take, for example, the 1934 National Firearms Act. It is rarely discussed in modern politics despite being highly ineffective at what it set out to do. It didn’t single-handedly end the prohibition fueled gang violence, ending prohibition did. I have yet to hear any compelling argument why a rifle with a 15.99” barrel magically becomes more dangerous than when it has a 16” barrel.

What about if we take uncle Joe’s advice and keep a shotgun for home defense? It’s not very comforting to know that a 12 gauge is not considered a destructive device only due to it being deemed “generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes”. A public official advocating wildly shooting into the air is not very comforting either, but that’s another topic.

When a gun law in Europe looks rational by comparison, you’re doing it wrong. Our approach to sound suppressors is harmful and pointless and in contrast some European countries allow much easier access to them even when the guns themselves are harder to get. I would appreciate not risking permanent hearing damage if, god forbid, I had to use deadly force against an intruder in my home. Hearing loss from shooting is a well documented problem, and it should be a “common sense” reform to allow unregulated access to devices that help protect the user’s hearing.

I have gotten befuddled looks and even concessions from anti-gunners in arguments where even they have to admit that many of the current gun laws are rationally indefensible. The debate could still be had about whether machine guns should be limited in some way, or whether or not civilians should be able to own RPGs, but at the very least we should all be able to agree that the clearly arbitrary laws should be eliminated.

A just system of law requires a clear set of rules. Even people who dislike guns should be concerned about entrenched bureaucratic power undermining the democratic process. The BATFE is a textbook example of out-of-control, unaccountable government.

It may be a low bar, but how many anti-gunners do you know who could defend the idea that a shoestring can be a machine gun with a straight face? Is it too much to ask to have a comprehensible code of laws so a citizen can be certain whether they are in compliance with it or not? Is it “common sense” that the process approving gun designs is secretive and that contradictory standards are given by the BATFE?

It’s much harder to defend these positions than it is to parrot emotional arguments for gun control, and we let them get away with it by allowing them to control the dialogue and put us on the defensive. It’s not just about how we should be able to put a vertical foregrip on a pistol, or build a pistol on a receiver that was previously part of a rifle without risking a decade in federal prison. It’s about having a government that is accountable to the people and doesn’t selectively determine and apply vague laws.

Enforcement agencies should not be allowed overly broad discretion in interpreting the law, or to drop prosecutions in order to avoid setting precedents. These actions fundamentally go against the values our country was founded on, and should upset us all regardless of our personal views on guns.

So the next time you hear somebody mention “common sense gun reform”, remember that they don’t get to own that term and point out how what they support is anything but. These laws clearly inhibit and harm law abiding gun owners without causing much concern for criminals. The least we can do is all come together to agree that despite our differences we mustn’t lose sight of the values that made this country great. Now THAT should be common sense.

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  1. You’re making a great argument for why the NFA should be repealed in its entirety. The main purpose of the legislation is already served by the assault weapons bans in states that have them and the Brady Bill requiring point of sale background checks for commercial firearms transactions.

  2. Yep my idea of common sense is at odds with gun control proponents. I think its’ common sense to eliminate gun-free zones and to all potential victims to be armed- i.e. shall issue CCW.

    Remember when dealing with gun control advocates you are dealing with people whose ‘common sense’ tells them disarming victims makes them safer.

    • You are speaking to “taking back the language, sir, but then fall into their language trap immediately. This is not a criticism, just pointing out how diabolically cleverly these things can be camouflaged.

      “So the next time you hear somebody mention ‘common sense gun reform’…”

      They love to frame the debate in terms of only wanting to control GUNS, when in fact it is people with guns they want to control. There is no “Common sense gun reform” or “Common sense gun control” or “Reasonable gun laws.”

      What they are actually discussing in EVERY case is “Common sense Second Amendment reform”, “Common sense Second Amendment control”, and “Reasonable laws restricting the Second Amendment.” They are not anti-gun, they are anti-2A.

    • “I think its’ common sense to eliminate gun-free zones and to all potential victims to be armed”

      100% agreed.

      “- i.e. shall issue CCW.”

      Why do want to be beholden to the *privilege* (not the right) of “shall issue CCW”? Why is CCW not a Constitutional right, alongside OC?

  3. So … we should push for laws such as:

    Carrying a gun should not be criminalized unless there is an intent to do harm to others;
    Accessories shouldn’t be prohibited because they look scary or might be misused;
    Children should be taught what to do if they see a gun;

    • May I suggest a minor change…

      “…Carrying a gun should not be criminalized unless there is actual harm done to others;”

      Having a gun is legal, shooting people with it isn’t. Until you shoot at people the law shouldn’t come into effect.

      • I think that makes some sense; my comment regarding intent was an awkwardly worded attempt to say that in addition to a prohibition of someone attacking another person with a weapon, one shouldn’t be allowed to threaten or intimidate others with one’s weapon. Assuming that a threat falls under the definition of harm, that works.

    • Sounds an awful lot like the current gun laws we enjoy here in the great State of Vermont. They seem to work just fine for us.

  4. Great post.

    For all those who say that “nobody wants to take your guns away,” I point to the clusterfack of laws which do zero good for preventing crime, but massively inconvenience gun owners… The entire NFA, “assault weapon” bans (which many gun control proponents don’t even like, as they are purely cosmetic) and higher taxes on firearms and ammo.

    If they really wanted “compromise,” they could say “if you agree to universal background checks, we’ll scrap the entire NFA” or something similar. Not that I’d agree to it (since our rights are not bargaining chips) but the fact that they never offer anything meaningful in return shows their true intentions: to push back gun rights as far as they can.

    Look at it from their point of view: what good does it do them to advance in one area, but fall back in another? If you were trying to take over a country in a war, and every time you took over one piece of territory, you had to concede another piece of territory of roughly equal importance, you’d never get anywhere.

  5. I know plenty of gun prohibitionists who wholeheartedly believe that violence in the U.S. centers on guns, and the problem of violence is a direct and simple result of the proliferation of guns. So they will vote for any and all gun-control laws in what they believe is a David-versus-Goliath battle against the evil gun lobby that perpetuates violence based on greed (i.e., collusion with gun manufacturers). They believe they’re on a righteous crusade.

    There is absolutely no way to reach these people, no matter how many facts and how much logic you present to them. When a majority group pushes discriminatory laws against a minority group, the only recourse is legal action. That’s why I’m thankful for the organizations that use the courts to uphold the civil right to keep and bear arms. (Come to think of it, there’s a Thanksgiving toast in there.)

    • There is probably a way. But you have to realize that many people actually believe this. My elder brother (which I usually admire) said with a surprised look on his face: “How come there isn’t more murders with so many guns”? This was in reference to a news segment which said there are 750 000 guns in Bosnia (my homeland).

  6. I say we start with nationwide CCW reciprocity. If my drivers license works in all 50 states (even Canada!) then my MI CPL should work as well. Crossing certain state lines will not turn me into a murderer. But it will magically make me a felon. Where is the common sense there?

    • I’ll have this problem next April, I’m driving from Flint to Kansas City, and Illinois doesn’t have reciprocity.

      • At least at the moment, if you have an out of state concealed handgun license, you can keep it in your car, loaded, and concealed. It just becomes illegal if you leave it in the car when either the gun is not locked or the car is not locked, or say if you leave it in the car while you run in the gas station and your wife is still in the car, assuming she does not have a license (yet).

    • Be careful what you wish for, as you just might get it. National reciprocity sounds great, but at it’s core it erodes states’ rights by relocating administration of carry licenses to the federal government. I know, I know, it’d just be national reciprocity, not a take-over whereby the feds assume all administrative and regulatory approval authority. Right…… When’s the last time Congress wrote a single line bill on a major hot button topic like firearms? Because that’s basically all that a genuine national reciprocity bill would require, or no more than a page, anyway. The proof? That’s how long, at most, the typical state-to-state reciprocity agreement is, and some of those are universal and unilateral!

      Any national reciprocity bill would come encumbered with a whole host of new requirements, fees, delays, denies, and rights-infringing fiats from ATF, just like NFA permits and FFL licenses do already. If you want reciprocity, better to lobby your state government for more bilateral agreements with other states, rather than invite federal assistance-cum-hindrance.

  7. I’d never thought about the idea that NICS effectively does in minutes what the NFA does in months. They both (ostensibly) screen people who wish to buy firearms, though NICS does so for all firearms while the NFA does so for certain firearms and accessories only.

    As a step in the right direction, how would POTG feel about NICS checks for all items on the current NFA list of restricted items? Including accessories. I know, on its face it sounds silly to need an NICS check for a silencer, but it beats the hell out of the tax stamp and gets us a bit closer to a right than a privilege. I’d rather be presumed (and confirmed) innocent by a computer than need approval from an LEO and review of a form by the BATFE .

    • There is zero reason why any NFA firearm shouldn’t be treated the same as any other – do an NICS check and buy it. NFA was written in a time when there were no background checks whatsoever, so that local sheriffs could approve/deny certain types of “dangerous” firearms to individuals known to their departments.

      That world no longer exists. Do away with the NFA.

    • I don’t really know if it was required, but when I bought my suppressors, my FFL not only filed for the NFA tax stamp, but before I collected the cans, I had to fill out a 4473 and pass the NICS check as well.

  8. I’m in WA state and cannot even legally own an SBR even if I were to follow the entire NFA process.

    Somehow the state managed to ban private SBR/SBS ownership when they tried to implement an AWB in the mid 90s but failed. The SBR/SBS provisions of that law were enacted independently – don’t even know how that is legal.

    I have to admit, if I ever moved to a “firearms freedom” state like Montana, I would have a real hard time caring at all about the NFA law, and would very likely have a ‘Made in Montana” SBR in my safe.

  9. Very nice piece. One thing: “We should all be able to agree that regardless of belief, laws should make sense and they should be results oriented.”

    Leftists are not results oriented, and will fight application of outcome measures with all they have. Ask a teachers’ union boss how we know that kids are learning, he’ll say “because I can see it in their eyes.” Yeah, right. For rank and file leftists (aka useful idiots), all that matters is intent, or that doing it makes them feel good. They don’t care if it actually works. The arch Progs are results oriented, but their goals are different.

    • yep.. a common trick to bumpfire an M1/M14 was to attach a length of string to the trigger, and tie the other end around a key ring. pulling the trigger by the key ring could allow the rifle to be reliably bumpfired.

      the ATF decided that this device constituted a machine gun, and so if you own either type of rifle, and have a length of string attached to a key ring, you are theoretically in the grey zone of constructive posession, if the ATF wanted to screw with you.

      • Thanks that way of bump firing is a new to me and any day I learn something new is a good one at my age!
        I have seen the eccentric made out of Tinkertoy parts in a cordless drill empty the magazine of a semi auto .22 Ruger with 25 shot Ruger clip it sounded like ripping paper it was so quick…. But I bet the ATF would take a dim view of that trick too

  10. You HAD to go and mention the “hearing lost” thing. Now they’ll push for further bans to “protect our hearing”.

    Alternatively, they could make supressors more easily available. NAH.

    Very good article, in my opinion.

  11. Common sense: So rare, it’s a Goddamn super-power!

    First off, common sense does not exist, there’s no such thing. It’s only a common learned response. It’s also only an assumption that everyone has learned the correct response. With respect to firearms, the 2A, and the anti-gun crowd, they assume we are lacking the sense that only they possess. Maybe a better term would be, natural sense. The sense that exists in nature. You know, the good sense God gave a dog. All living, breathing things have a right to self defense. From the smallest bio-organism to the Blue whale, all have the innate right to survive. If these anti gun people were lions, they’d be pushing for de-clawing and corrective dentistry. How can the anti-gun Left possibly argue against the natural right of all animals to defend themselves? Hey, aren’t these the same usual primates who are advocating for animal rights, i.e. don’t shoot Bambi? Of all the animals living on this planet, we are the only ones who engage in self-loathing. Hmmm?

    One thing: A value is a subjective desire, not objective truth. The word to use is “principle(s).”
    Good article.


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