Thursday, May 8, 2014

Damn This Slope Is Slippery!

In New Jersey, this could become an "assault weapon".

The Brady Campaign might have to adjust their rankings as New Jersey could be moving up as the state with the third most restrictive firearms laws and into the second position if the current legislation is passed in the State Senate. As reported in the New Jersey Star Ledger, on Monday, “The state Senate’s Law and Public Safety Committee today voted 3-2 along party lines to approve the legislation (A2006), which lowers the allowed size from 15 rounds to 10. The bill has been kicking around the Legislature since 2012 as one of several dozen pushed in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school shooting in Newtown, Ct. But while it has already passed the Assembly twice, this is the first time it has advanced in the state Senate.”

For those proponents of these ridiculous restrictions this is a clear victory in the limiting of the second amendment rights of New Jersians. However, the expansive wording found in the legislation underlines a clear misunderstanding of firearms and the manpower needed to enforce such harsh restrictions. Case in point, is how the term “assault weapon” is defined….

The legislation currently under consideration would expand the term to include all firearms with fixed or detachable magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, regardless of caliber. In essence, this would turn granddad’s old Henry Golden Boy lever action, tube fed, 22 rifle would become illegal as it would be deemed an “assault weapon” by the state. Back in February, Emily Miller wrote extensively on this aspect of the restriction in a piece published in The Washington Times:

Since the legislation covers both detachable and fixed magazines, it has the effect of banning popular, low-caliber rifles.

The Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs gave the draft legislation to top firearms experts in the country to determine what guns would fall under the expanded ban.

They discovered that the bill would affect tube-fed, semi-automatic rifles because the magazine cannot be separated from the gun.

Thus, the experts found that at least 43 common rifles would suddenly be considered a prohibited “assault firearm,” such as the .22 caliber Marlin Model 60, Remington Nylon 66 and Winchester 190.

Just having one such gun would turn a law-abiding owner into a felon overnight.

We are not just talking about the AR-15 debate anymore which, by the way, they do not meet the actual definition of “assault weapon” either. So, now that we have that bastardization of the term out of the way, let’s discuss the actual evolution of the term “assault weapon”. Actually, it all began with a completely different term, “assault rifle”.

During World War II, Adolf Hitler personally chose the name "Sturmgewehr" (literally, "storm rifle", translated in English as "assault rifle") to describe the first (the Sturmgewehr 44) of a new class of small arm, which combined the characteristics of a carbine, submachine gun and automatic rifle. A half-decade earlier the propaganda-friendly term "Sturmgesch├╝tz" ("storm gun") was similarly invented and applied to certain armored military vehicles, turretless tank chassis mounting artillery intended for direct fire support. Otherwise, in English, use of the term "assault weapon" was restricted, prior to the 1980s, to naming certain minor military weapons systems, for example, the Rifleman's Assault Weapon, an American grenade launcher developed in 1977 for use with the M\16 assault rifle. More information and misinformation can be found on Wikipedia.

It wasn’t until later years that the definition was expanded, beginning with politicians in California in 1985, to incorporate the semi-automatic classifications and magazine restrictions of 20 rounds and the creation of a term, without definition, “assault weapon”. Basically, it was a means to lump in all firearms they deemed “scary looking” and to rally liberal support of restrictions on the second amendment. However, even this terminology is shaky to this day as “assault weapon” and “assault rifle” are seen as interchangeable when, in reality, they are separate terms. “Assault weapon” is still a term floating in the realm of rhetoric… it is basically a slogan relegated to the island of undefined terms. “Assault rifle”, including the definition above, is a fully automatic rifle chambered in an intermediate cartridge. You can get a better understanding of this whole dichotomy on the website “The Truth About Assault Weapons”.

The current actions of New Jersey politicians are a clear example of the slippery slope that all Second Amendment supporters have been dreading. And, since we are using completely made up terms anyway, moving forward I will see these actions in New Jersey and other right repressing states as assault legislation. Because while a hunk of steel cannot harm anyone without a person imposing their will upon it, a piece of legislation written on paper cannot harm anyone without politicians imposing their will upon it and upon the people. That is the real assault that is happening in the world today.