The New York legislature is considering a bill that would ban retailers from selling handguns that don’t have either a 10-pound trigger pull, a “firing mechanism” sufficiently unwieldy that a five-year-old couldn’t use it, or “the capacity to require a series of multiple motions” to fire the pistol. In a rather brilliant propaganda move, the bill labels heaters that don’t meet these features as “child operated firearms”.
Nick did a good job deconstructing the silliness of the law itself, talking about the abysmal rates of accuracy achieved by the NYPD after adopting its infamous ten pound trigger, as well as the deleterious effects the bill would have on safety for disabled or elderly gun owners.
But I fear his reality-based arguments backed up by provable facts are only convincing to those already on the side of the angels. In fact, this bill and its language are such a strong move that I’m scratching my head as to why the control lobby didn’t try this earlier in the home state of Bloomberg, Cuomo and Schumer.
The fact that this isn’t already law is even more puzzling when you consider that the New York bill plagiarizes language already used in Massachusetts gun regulations. As TTAG reader Button Gwinnet points out, 940 CMR 16.05, promulgated by the Massachusetts Attorney General in 1997, which calls it an “unfair or deceptive practice” for retailers to sell a handgun without a “safety device” which includes.
The language here is nigh-identical to that in the New York bill: ten pound trigger, multiple motions to fire, mechanism that the average five-year-old couldn’t use.
The only thing missing from the Massachusetts regulations is the Orwellian “Child Operated Firearm” label which is a sufficiently sticky (and corrosive) label that I hope whoever came up with it charged the diminutive plutocrat Bloomberg at least eight figures for the service.
I say that because the persuasion problem that the gun control lobby faces is that they’re going up against the naked self-interest of people when they try to ban firearms.
No human really wants to give up their ability to get tools that make them smarter, more attractive, more powerful or safer. On a fundamental level, even the proverbial five-year-old can grasp that guns augment an individual’s physical power.
None except the ideologically blind or religious pacifists (to the extent they differ) is truly anti-gun. Almost everyone wants guns to remain part of society — the control lobby simply wants them to only be in the hands of the privileged, the powerful, the well-connected, the wealthy and their security services…which explains New York City’s current gun laws.
Gun rights activists simply believe that the right to keep and bear arms should be available to the entire citizenry in any society where equality before the law is valued.
The move is brilliant in a way that the term “gun safety” as a euphemism for gun control isn’t. Most people would be willing to trade away a measure of safety for a little extra liberty or power. But a “child operated firearm”?
On an emotional level, that just feels like a bad idea. Call me a Cassandra if you want, but it’s really hard to fight something when you have to unpack a phrase that people instinctively feel is bad before you even get to the front line. If it catches on, “child operated firearm” will haunt the gun rights movement for a while in much the same way “assault rifle” has.
It’s all the worse given the results of the Massachusetts law. For GLOCKs, a 10-pound trigger is almost a drop-in replacement, one that requires a level of mechanical skill equal to assembling IKEA furniture. But that hasn’t stopped the Bay State from barring retail sales of new GLOCKs manufactured after 1998 under this rule.
Last year, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, launched a politically-charged “investigation” of both GLOCK and Remington, demanding access to internal corporate documents in the name of consumer protection. This was justified by the Commonwealth’s gun regs at 940 CMR 16.
GLOCK is fighting it, of course, calling it a “politically motivated” fishing expedition intended to “harass an industry that the Attorney General finds distasteful….” Also, GLOCKs aren’t even sold by retailers in the Commonwealth anymore. Duh.
(As it happens, the Second Amendment Foundation and Commonwealth Second Amendment, Inc. are supporting a lawsuit filed in 2014 by plaintiffs who were denied the right to buy a GLOCK from Massachusetts gun dealers due to the regulations under 940 CMR 16. Is it possible this litigation motivated the Attorney General’s fishing expedition last year?)
Massachusetts, though, is small beer at the end of the day. New York, however, is a big enchilada; this is an ambitious move in a high-profile state if the past is any guide, New York Republicans (who are vastly outnumbered in the House, and have a bare plurality in the Senate,) will be no more effective in protecting civil rights than the GOP was in protecting civil rights in the South after the Grant Administration.
When you consider the general political leanings of New York, the highly urbanized population, and the dense concentration of moneyed trial lawyers in the Big Apple, even if gun owners in New York rally stop this this time, that language is so sticky that it’ll be used again and again until something is enacted.
What’s the response to this? We should look to flip their language wherever possible. Frankly, there’s no reason why the NRA and its network of trainers shouldn’t OWN the phrase “gun safety,” for instance. And on this one in particular? We need to change the topic of conversation–fast.