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The Magazine Ban
    On a pleasant day in the early fall of 2004, the following passage was on the entry page of the official site of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (affectionately known as the ATF):
By statute, the prohibitions relating to semiautomatic assault weapons and large capacity ammunition feeding devices expired on September 13, 2004. As a result, certain sections of the Gun Control Act, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, and its implementing regulations, 27 CFR Part 478, are no longer in effect.
    On Monday morning at a minute past midnight, the deadly dangerous assault weapons, and the large capacity magazines which they are designed to take, suddenly became safe again. This was the culmination of yet another failed experiment in social engineering by our friends the liberals, and their official voice, the democratic party. The ban could have been renewed, but it was not. The Congress, and President in 2004, were both quite different from those which passed this outrage, and insult to the electorate. This was a rare happy ending to yet another instance of the liberal foolishness which seems to have overtaken the country over the last couple of decades.
    The first George Bush set the stage for this outrage by being, basically, a decent, and reasonable man. He was willing to compromise, and get things done, and so was able to make a deal with the then democrat controlled Senate and House. They broke their word of course, and did not keep up their part of the tax/deficit agreement, and then turned on Bush in the elections blaming him for the tax increases which they had passed themselves. This was only one of several examples of George Bush seniors decency being used against him by the political party which had discarded any such notions decades ago. Still, this made him appear weak, and indecisive, and probably contributed greatly to his loss to that monument of deceit, bill clinton.
    The only good part of the failed clinton presidency was the fact that the first two years were so horrible, that he would never again face a House or a Senate controlled by his own party. A major portion of the blame for this loss has been attributed to the passage of the Omnibus Crime Bill of 1994. As with most of clintons screw ups, others paid the price. He remained in office while scores of democratic Senators, and Congressmen lost their jobs. Still, despite the damage control, the magazine and assault rifle ban was a fact of life for ten years.
    It is interesting to note that bill clinton only won the election because of the female vote, and the black vote. Without his having carried both of these groups, he would have lost. What makes this odd is that if there is any party which has shafted, screwed, manipulated, and disrespected black America (even from the start, it was the democratic party which fought all anti slavery measures, while the Republicans sought its ban), it is the democrats. If there is any man in public office, who has mistreated, disrespected, and wiped his feet on women, it is bill clinton. Oh well, no accounting for tastes I suppose. Still, he outdid himself here, showing his ultimate disrespect for us all with his support of this so called crime bill.
Passing the bill
  This was presented to us by our deceitful friends in Washington as the "Crime Bill", though there was little, if any, legislation aimed at crime contained within it. The main features of the bill had to do with an increase in social programs, a token effort at temporarily subsidizing the hiring of law enforcement officers (the claimed numbers were 100,000; the actual numbers were about 20,000, and this for a period of less than 5 years), and sweeping gun control regulations. The infamous midnight basketball was included as part of this, along with a vast recruitment of new social workers, and councilors. As much as the stops were pulled out to get this bill to pass, it narrowly squeezed by, and it's passage is thought to have made a major contribution to the election of a Republican House and Senate.
    There were some Republican attempts to put some genuine anti crime measures, like tougher sentencing, and some mandatory sentencing for certain crimes, into this bill, but all were rejected by the, then democratic, majority. A particularly ironic twist was that the democrats rejected a Republican motion to have mandatory sentences enacted for crimes committed with guns. Though the democrats cheerfully enacted legislation which would imprison regular citizens for owning certain types of firearms, they balked at the idea of imprisoning criminals for committing crimes with them. One of the reasons that this was termed "The Crime Bill of 1994" was that a social welfare and gun control bill would stand little chance of passing. The election returns which changed control of both houses of Congress shows that the public is not as easily fooled as many in government would hope.
    What the gun portion of the bill did was to ban certain firearms by name, and set out a series of parameters which sought to finally give an objective definition to the subjective term "Assault Rifle". This is one of those terms like "Saturday Night Special", which anti gunners have railed against for years, and have never been able to define in a way which would stand up to the scrutiny of law. The definition which has been contrived uses the following features to determine the status of a weapon
                    An assault rifle for the purposes of this bill was a semi automatic weapon with any two of the following features:     As can be seen these are some rather arbitrary definitions and hold little or no relevance to the control or prevention of crime. I can not recall the last time I heard of a person being bayoneted during the commission of a crime, nor can I think of a criminal application for a flash hider. The idea of banning a weapon because of it's appearance is contemptible. There may be some slight criminal application for a folding stocked rifle, and a large capacity magazine, but I hardly think that this justifies infringing upon the rights of the citizenry, particularly when the rights in question are guaranteed by the Constitution. This also makes the silly assumption made by all gun laws that passing a law will interfere with the activities and will influence the actions of those who have already set themselves as criminals. One predictable effect of these restrictions was the hefty increase in price of the banned articles. Prices on guns and magazines affected by the ban increased by between 200% and 1500% after the ban took effect.
    Along with the assault rifle ban, this bill banned magazines which hold over ten rounds. All of the anti gun measures contained provisions to grandfather possession of banned items for those who already possessed them. It also permitted possession of items manufactured before the date (Sept 13, 1994) on which the bill was passed. This adds remarkably to the confusion produced by this bill, but any other method of application would have violated the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, and given the pro gunners an easy way to have the law overturned, since the Fifth Amendment (unlike the Second Amendment) is actually taken seriously by the liberals, and the courts.
    These laws are clearly unenforceable, as magazines are not routinely numbered or marked with a date of manufacture. Rifles, however, are serial numbered and their dates of production may be easily determined. This set the trap of the pre ban, and the post ban rifle for the collector and shooter of firearms. An AR-15, AK-47, or M1A rifle produced before the cut off date was allowed to have a bayonet lug, or large capacity magazine installed, but the same rifle produced the next day, similarly equipped, would be illegal. There are several people who learned this lesson the hard way after buying and installing increased capacity magazines on legally bought SKS rifles. While these people were being given stiff prison sentences, and heavy fines, actual criminals were generally treated fair less harshly, even after becoming repeat offenders.
    The only light at the end of this convoluted tunnel was the temporary nature of the bill. Even with a democratic Congress and President, the gun portions of this bill could not be passed without the following provision:
      This Act and the amendments made by this Act--
          (1) shall take effect on the date of the enactment of this Act; and    
          (2) are repealed effective as of the date that is 10 years after that
            Sept 13 1994
    So the bill expired in September of 2004. Needless to say, the year 2004 produced a vigorous debate over extending the law, and possibly making it permanent. This debate took place during an election year. With a Republican Congress and President, we have put an end to much of this arbitrary foolishness masquerading as crime control. I expect that this will be a major issue in the presidential election, and that things are very likely to come to a head. We may even be able to use the inertia generated by this to return much of the second amendment rights which have been taken from us. We can hope for the best, but only time will tell.
Living under the bill
    I was happy to see that much of the hysteria surrounding this bill diminished after a couple of years. Gun and magazine prices, though still somewhat higher than before the ban, eventually came down a bit. This may have been in reaction to the imminent expiration of the bill, particularly during the new Bush administration, or may simply be the effect of time and human nature. It may also be a matter of supply and demand. Assault rifles, along with military and high capacity pistols, have always had a very limited share of the market. Some estimates set the share at under 1%. Though this is still a significant number of firearms, the small market share, along with the large supply of military surplus equipment made the price drop inevitable. Those of us who had seen this happen before, in the wake of previous gun bills, sat by calmly and waited. Those who panicked, paid far too much. What the bill did, at least in the short run, was to raise prices somewhat, and to sharply reduce the numbers of new guns available, particularly in the case of some of the newer designs. The inevitable hoarding was a result of the natural paranoia which many government activities seem to generate. Back in the sixties, it was the liberals who were paranoid about "The Establishment" which seemed to include big business, and the government. It is now the turn of conservatives to distrust the government, which is far too infested with a strange and contradictory type of liberalism which equates freedom with increased regulation, restrictions on the choices we are allowed to make, and a big government producing taxes which eat up much of the resources produced by the nation. The hoarding, and the buying frenzy which preceded this bill have expanded the number of guns and magazines beyond the market demand, which is why the prices have dropped down somewhat from their highs in the mid nineties. If the magazine and assault rifle ban were to have become permanent, or if a new one should be passed, these prices would rise again, and would likely continue to rise incrementally as attrition would have it's effect on the numbers of guns and magazines. The largest effect that this bill had was on relatively new designs such as the Calico, the Knight, and the Stoner, along with some newer pistols like the USP. These guns were introduced either after, or very soon before, the bill, and the stock piling and hoarding never took place. A result of this is that there are no large capacity magazines for the USP, or the Knight, and Calico magazines, when they can be found, sell for hundreds of dollars. This would have been the future of all military and high capacity firearms, if this bill would have been made permanent in 2004 when it expired.

Specious arguments to renew or extend the bill

    Many reasons will be found for the failure of the bill, and for the impossibility of getting it renewed. Among these will probably be the amazingly stupid argument that the bill failed because it was not strong enough. Such foolishness is to be expected from the blind, silly, self serving types who embrace liberalism.
    As with most gun legislation, the drumming up of public support comes in two forms:
Emotional arguments:
This is the main tack used, because it is the only really effective means at hand, since statistics, and facts do not support these arguments, and are almost immediately discredited on those rare occasions when they are used.
Carefully chosen "facts"
    These are nearly always used out of context, since a full explanation would destroy the credibility of the argument. A perfect example of this, used by a number of publications attempting to get the ban restored, is that violent crimes committed with assault weapons has dropped by 66% in the ten years since the ban went into effect. Besides the fact that the source of these statistics has not been given, meaning it may not be true, this argument intentionally disregards several important points:     One other problem is that, in a huge majority of cases, the statistics are made up. This is one reason that references are never given when such statements are made. One very recent example of this is the ER doctor who stated that 90% of all spinal injuries are caused by assault rifles. This is such an obvious mis-statement that I am amazed even the liberal anti gunners had the gall to repeat it. Most must have seen it for the lie that it is, but repeated it anyway, figuring that we are all too stupid to figure it out. The figure for spinal injury caused by violence of all types is 11%. Of this, only a fraction is caused by firearms, and of the portion caused by firearms, only a very small fraction is caused by assault weapons. An ER doctor would certainly know this, but this one chose to lie about the matter.
    As an indication of the hypocrisy of the press, who quoted her without any critical examination of the facts, I would like to propose an alternate statement. Instead of lying about gun statistics, suppose this doctor would have stated that 90% of all spinal injuries are caused by young black males during the commission of crimes. This would either not be quoted at all, or would be headlined as an indication of how terrible and racist ER doctors have become. It would be a lie, of course, and should subject her to some consequences, but it is no more a lie than the one she told about the possible correlation of assault weapons and spinal injury. There would be lawsuits, probably professional censure, and likely the loss of a job. Or perhaps, on a less inflamitory subject, suppose that the statement would be made that 90% of the deaths caused in young women are attributable to abortions. What do you suppose the liberal press in this country would do to a doctor who made such a statement. Still, the press allows lies and misstatements about firearms to go unquestioned, particularly from those who have professional credentials. The doctor in question here, is Amy Sisley, an emergency room doctor at the University of Maryland Medical Center. I do hope that her professional skills are better than her principles. I also hope that she is more truthful with her patients than she is when she lies to the press. Actually I could hope for a bit more honesty from all of the liberal anti gunners; but I won't hold my breath (death from holding my breath waiting would probably be counted as a gun related death).