The War Against Cheap Guns, Fun Guns and NFA-Items

President Obama, the anti-gunner-in-chief.

President Obama, the anti-gunner-in-chief.

“This is not a plot to take away everybody’s guns.” — president Barack Hussein Obama, Jan. 6, 2016.

President Obama’s calm assurances earlier this year were met with not-unreasonable eye rolling from the pro-gun community. The President made a valiant attempt, but by now we’ve figured out that every time he promises us we can keep something or assures us there isn’t a conspiracy, he’s lying.

Unlike some of their other policies, Democrats are pretty clear when it comes to guns: they’d rather not let us have them. Hillary blatantly supports another assault weapons ban (despite the fact it wasn’t effective—more on this later) and believes the Supreme Court got it wrong when they upheld the individual right to keep and bear arms. The Second Amendment has, more or less, kept the anti-gun community in check thus far, but rest assured—the end goal of “common sense gun control legislation” is the disarming of the American people.

If “the price of liberty is eternal vigilance,” the gun community better stay on its toes, especially in light of the current and potential Supreme Court vacancies. If Obama is allowed to fill Scalia’s seat and Hillary wins the Oval Office, the highest court in the land will be anti-2A for decades to come.

So to prepare for the future, let’s look at the past. What is the history of banning guns in the United States? What excuses has the Fed used to keep guns out of the hands of law-abiding American citizens? What was the effect of those bans? This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it hits on a few major laws, including one that newer gun owners might not recognize: the ban on cheap firearms.

“Assault Weapons”

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the architect of the 2014 bill to ban so-called "assault weapons.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the architect of the 2014 bill to ban so-called “assault weapons.

First, the elephant in the room. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, AKA, the “Assault Weapons Ban,” prohibited the “manufacture, transfer, or possession of a semiautomatic assault weapons.” “Assault weapon” sounds scary enough, but how exactly did president Clinton and Congress define the term? From the bill, it is “a semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of– a folding or telescoping stock; a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon; a bayonet mount; a flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to; accommodate a flash suppressor; and, a grenade launcher.”

It’s unclear how pistol grips and folding stocks contributed to crime, but Clinton wasn’t about to let that stop him. He described his motivations for passing the bill in stark terms: “Gangs and drugs have taken over our streets and undermined our schools,” he said. “Every day, we read about somebody else who has literally gotten away with murder.”

Somehow, Clinton assured us, banning semi-automatic rifles with bayonet mounts would remove gangs and drugs from schools, and keep criminals from getting away with murder. To be fair, the law included a variety of other provisions meant to stop crime, but if less than 1% of incarcerated criminals used an AR-15 in their offense, how would banning AR-15s prevent crime in the future?

As you’re probably aware, it didn’t. Democrats couldn’t get enough support to renew the law, and it expired in 2004. That year the University of Pennsylvania released a study that summarizes the ban’s effectiveness: “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence. And, indeed, there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence.”

Supporters of a new ban blame the original law’s “loopholes,” claiming that a stricter ban could do what the Clinton law didn’t. Here’s the problem: “assault weapons” account for so few crimes in the United States that even if the law were 100% effective, it still wouldn’t reduce the overall crime rate. (And, if the San Bernardino shooting is any indication, even the strictest ban couldn’t be 100% effective.)

Cheap Guns

A Raven Arms MP-25, known as a "Saturday Night Special."

A Raven Arms MP-25, known as a “Saturday Night Special.”

So much for scary rifles with flash hiders. But what about the other menace threatening our nation’s existence—cheap guns?

Cheap handguns—colloquially termed “Saturday Night Specials” (SNS)—have been a favorite target for gun banners since 1879, when Tennessee banned the sale of any pistol except the most expensive “army or navy pistols.” Unlike the arguments in favor of banning assault weapons, the arguments in favor of banning cheap guns have at least the semblance of logic: if criminals in lower-income neighborhoods tend to use cheap handguns, banning these handguns will reduce crime. At least, that’s the argument.

This line of thinking eventually led to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which included provisions intended to stop the importation of SNSs  [18 U.S.C. 925(d)(3)]. Among these provisions was the “sporting purposes test,” which forced many overseas manufacturers like Glock, Walther, and Beretta to either modify their pistols or stop selling their firearms in the U.S. altogether. To get around the importation restrictions, these companies had to open U.S.-based facilities, which is how we’re able to access these excellent firearms today. The federal government has yet to institute a domestic ban on cheap guns, but it’s something the gun community needs to know how to fight.

Towards that end, here are a few points of information, courtesy of an excellent fact sheet published by the NRA-ILA:

  • “SNSs are involved in only about 1-3% of all violent crimes.” — “Most handgun criminals do not use SNSs, and most SNSs are not owned or used for criminal purposes. Instead, most are probably owned by poor people for protection.” (Criminologist Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, 1997; Point Blank, 1991.)
  • Studies for the Justice Department have found that “There is no evidence to suggest that criminals prefer smaller caliber guns . . . or cheaper weapons” and that “The often-assumed criminal preference for small, cheap handguns is not confirmed.” (James D. Wright, et al., Under the Gun, 1983; Armed and Considered Dangerous, 1986.)
  • A study for the Justice Dept. found that 68% of felons would switch to a “bigger, more expensive” handgun — 18% would switch to a “sawed off [rifle or shotgun].” (Wright & Rossi, Armed and Considered Dangerous, 1986.)
  • A law against “Saturday Night Specials” would disproportionately affect poor citizens by reducing the availability of defensive handguns to low-income Americans. (Gary Kleck, Targeting Guns, 1997.) The violent crime victimization rate is highest among people in households with annual incomes below $7,500. (Bureau of Justice Statistics, Criminal Victimization 1997, Changes 1996-97 with Trends 1993-97, Dec. 1998)

Here’s the bottom line: criminals don’t prefer cheaper handguns. Even if they did, restricting their access to cheap guns also restricts the greater number of American citizens who buy these guns for self-defense. Not only that, but criminals would likely acquire larger, more expensive handguns if government officials limited their access to cheap firearms.

Essentially, a ban on cheap firearms would result in better-armed criminals and more helpless victims. It’s tough to imagine a better recipe for disaster.

To conclude, many have noted the potentially racial nature of cheap gun bans, most notably anti-gun journalist Robert Sherrill, who said in his book 1973 The Saturday Night Special that, “The Gun Control Act of 1968 was passed not to control guns but to control blacks…” While racial minorities clearly make up the majority of lower-income households in the U.S., it isn’t true, as Senator Bernie Sanders would have us believe, that white communities “don’t know what it’s like to be poor.” The fact is that a ban on cheap guns would unfairly limit the self-defense capabilities—not to mention the constitutional rights—of law-abiding Americans of every race.

Suppressors and SBRs

The ONE is compact. It's shown here next to a SilencerCo Specwar 7.62.

The Gemtech ONE is a compact suppressor. It’s shown here next to a SilencerCo Specwar 7.62.

Banning “assault weapons” and cheap guns doesn’t reduce crime, and, fortunately on the federal level, we don’t have to worry too much about them being enacted into law, thanks to a GOP-controlled Congress.

But what about a “ban” we’re more familiar with?

Suppressors, short-barreled rifles, and short-barreled shotguns have been strictly regulated in the United States since the National Firearms Act of 1934. The law was originally passed in response to gang violence, and has been somewhat revised by the Gun Control Act of 1968 and the Firearm Owner’s Protection Act (the barrel length of restricted firearms, for example, was shortened from 18” to 16”). The concept, however, has remained the same for the last 80 years: in order to own these items, individuals must jump through a series of hoops and pay a $200 tax.

Two-hundred dollars today is much less than it was in 1934 ($3,583), which allows many Americans to legally own and enjoy suppressors and SBRs. Despite this, the logic behind the NFA is often difficult to grasp. Twelve-inch barrels aren’t much easier to hide than 16” barrels, and one person can conceal quite a few large guns if they wear the right clothes.

But the law really begins to break down when it comes to suppressors. A firearm suppressor is nothing more than a muffler for a gun. We use them in cars to protect our hearing—why are guns different? Our draconian suppressor laws actually start to get embarrassing when compared to our European counterparts. In the UK, for example, it’s considered impolite to hunt without a suppressor, and they can be bought in gun shops for less money than in the United States.

Despite the lack of suppressed-gun wielding bandits in Europe and that fact that the “use of silenced firearms in crime is a rare occurrence” in the U.S., federal officials have opposed gun mufflers for decades. Fortunately, that may be about to change. Representative Matt Salmon of Arizona recently introduced the Hearing Protection Act, which would remove suppressors from the NFA and allow thousands of Americans to more easily protect their hearing during hunting and shooting sports. It’s a great step towards securing our Second Amendment freedoms, and a good sign for the future of the gun community in the United States.

Conclusion

As you can see, those who value their right to self-defense have been forced to fend off government attacks almost since our country’s founding. Anti-2nd Amendment lobbies and legislators have come at us from all sides: from budget guns to popular rifles to SBRs to suppressors, they won’t rest until we’re a nation of victims. So far we’ve managed to preserve our individual right to keep and bear arms, but who knows what the future will hold? What do you think they’ll come after next?

(Editor’s note: This article was a submission from freelance writer Jordan Michaels.  

About the author: Jordan Michaels is a new convert to the gun world. A Canadian immigrant to the United States, he recently became an American citizen and is happily enjoying his newly-acquired Second Amendment freedoms. He’s a communications professional, a political junkie, and an avid basketball fan.)

{ 29 comments… add one }
  • Gunflint01 November 3, 2017, 8:06 am

    Some guns on the market are considered Sat. Night Specials. Does that make them an unsafe or unreliable. Not nessesarly. The DemoRATS/Socialists , ARE CHIPPING AWAY OUR Rights. One small piece at a time………..

  • Gunflint01 November 3, 2017, 8:06 am

    Some guns on the market are considered Sat. Night Specials. Does that make them an unsafe or unreliable. Not nessesarly. The DemoRATS/Socialists , ARE CHIPPING AWAY OUR Rights. One small piece at a time.

  • Cantxsailor December 9, 2016, 10:04 am

    Just to point up a few facts about the assault weapons ban. The original assault weapons ban was enacted by executive order by GHWB(POTUS41) at least Clinton had the courtesy to run it through CONGRESS who passed it. As for the 68 gun control act, GHWB was the only representative from Texas to vote in favor of it. As far as the current POTUS goes he has signed only two federal laws concerning firearms. One says you can carry concealed in the national parks if you have a permit. The other says you can put an unloaded firearm in checked luggage on Amtrak. I didn’t like either of the choices we had for POTUS and I think we are in for a very strange four years with Mr Trump at the helm.

  • Mongo March 26, 2016, 10:14 pm

    People need to wake up!!! The precedent of this current imposter-in-chief of writing unlawful and unconstitutional executive orders/actions is only going to get worse with Hitlery in office, the lawlessness will be 5 times worse. If you think a Republican Congress will stop a gun ban or infringement on the 2-A, you are delusional. What the hell have they stopped, even when they said they would stop anything (PP, funding for illegals, Obama care, closing the border, refugees, and far too much more to list) much less block another liberal SC Justice.

    many people I talk to who say they believe that 92% of the population would just give up their guns if there was a ban or other action taken against our God-given right to self preservation against evil. As a country, look at how much we have already put up with, look how much we now have become Atlas, and just shrugged.

    I don’t believe that 92% would willingly give up our guns. I believe we would not comply, I believe many LEO and military would not comply. I also believe this, if the armed sleeping giant woke up, God have mercy on those in the crosshairs. we will be fighting for not only freedom, but for survival. Make your peace with God and pray to Him for deliverance from that possible future. But if it be so……

    • Aquaman71755 April 16, 2016, 1:24 pm

      From the military, LEO’s ect I have spoken with they will not just fall in line to confiscate firearms just because their supervisors tell them to even if a new law says to do so. All have said they are there to protect the citizens and uphold the Constitution of the United States period.

  • Rob March 25, 2016, 5:28 pm

    I believe the next assault on gun rights will come by way of Obamacare. They will ban lead, antimony and other heavy metals as a health issue, therefore leading to the use of more expensive and less available metals and alloys.

  • Buford March 25, 2016, 2:09 pm

    If you think Obama’s bad, wait till Hillary moves in!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • John K. March 25, 2016, 12:49 pm

    Why is it that whenever I see a picture of Obama and Feinstein I feel like I am less secure? A person can be killed by an air rifle. Suppressors to me are a moot point. Any attachment or firearm related subject is used to either restrict or tax our God given right to defend ourselves, as stated in the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

  • Ralph S March 25, 2016, 12:14 pm

    I still believe that there are those who are Democrats and gun owners, but still support their Party candidates even though they are anti gun. just because they are Democrats. Those are the ones that must change their habit and ensure that they support the right candidate for the right reasons and not just because of party affiliation.

    • Damon March 25, 2016, 2:20 pm

      You’re right. I’m a social liberal, a fiscal conservative, an avid gun collector and CPL holder who carries every day.
      The problem is, “conservative” politics in this country have gone off the goddam rails. There are NO candidates on the right that have any messages for me or mine, and I can’t in good conscience vote Republican for one single issue. I can’t vote Democrat because I’m a taxpayer who wants taxes to do more than enable an entitlement society. What’s left?

      To be bluntly honest, I will probably write in a candidate for POTUS this year.

      • Penrod March 25, 2016, 4:47 pm

        Hi Damon, “I will probably write in a candidate for POTUS this year.”

        I empathize with your disgust with our political choices.

        However, I have to vote for whatever candidate the Republicans finally settle on because to do otherwise is to say I will not even try to prevent Hillary from stacking the Supreme Court.

        I would rather vote for a diseased goat than accept that by not voting for a Republican, no matter how bad the Republican is.

        • Fred March 26, 2016, 1:23 pm

          Penrod. Your right.
          Whats that saying? Vote for lesser of the 2 evils.

      • Ranger Rick March 25, 2016, 5:31 pm

        Damon, I also could do lees with the Bible thumping.

      • Aaron March 25, 2016, 11:35 pm

        Rand Paul

  • Charlie Porter March 25, 2016, 10:26 am

    Bill Clinton did not pass any laws about being a national pervert. Why ? He is one. Out first admitted presidential pervert! Now what about H.R Clinton? Do we have questions ?

  • JohnnyJT March 25, 2016, 10:14 am

    The problem with the NFA is the SBR category when enacted in 1934 revolvers and pistols didn’t have the firepower that they do today with new ammo designs and magazine capacities. SBR firearms category is antiquated and obsolete and should be removed from the NFA

    • OFBG March 25, 2016, 7:23 pm

      Actually, the real problem with the NFA is that it set the stage for the future gun-control laws that may sound and/or feel good but actually do nothing to accomplish their supposed intended purpose(s) of reducing crime and/or increasing public safety. By the time the NFA was enacted the types of crimes and criminals whose use of firearms like machine guns, “Whippet” rifles, “silenced” handguns, etc. were largely in the past (Bad guys still use “sawed-off” shotguns, but these would also make a lot of us safer if honest folks could legally use them as “truck guns” or for home defense). Restricting the firearms and “devices” specified in the NFA had little or nothing to do with the end of drive-by organized-crime machine-gunnings or criminals like Bonnie & Clyde, much like the “assault-weapon” and high-cap magazine bans did nothing to reduce crime or make us safer in their time.

  • SuperG March 23, 2016, 12:35 pm

    In defense of Bill Clinton, I think he passed this law while he was getting a blow job, and nobody can concentrate with that going on.

    • Cyrus March 25, 2016, 7:10 am

      True That!

    • Doug Roy March 25, 2016, 10:38 am

      Right own brother.

  • Aaron March 23, 2016, 7:38 am

    I’m extremely serious about this point. I hope I never win the lottery because I’ll be in court the rest of my life litigating this point.

    Firearm laws are racist.

    The Civil Rights Act stands against institutionalized racism stating that the original intent of a law or regulation doesn’t matter if its impact disproportionately impacts a protected class. Argue the merits or harm this statue produces all you want (a literal interpretation could shut down almost the entire government…) but it’s law.

    Any restriction on firearm ownership is racist. The 4473 is your first act of racism. Undue burden to know written English.

    Second is the background check. People of color have been harmed at a higher rate by laws written to harm them. Nixon’s administration admitted the war on drugs was to harm people of color.

    Third act of racism is the cost of having to use an ffl. Fourth is the cost of NFA tax stamps.

    The biggest one, the one most easy to prove, is the costs associated with the conceal and carry permit process.

    By charging money for the permit, by instructors charging for the class, people of color are disproportionately impacted. For whatever reasons (there are many) why poverty strikes Black Americans and Hispanics in our country, the fact is it strikes then at a higher rate than White Americans. This is the crux of the argument. Disproportionate impact. Or disparate impact.

    The fact that GOA, NRA and republicans fail to cite this is why we’ll lose gun rights in America. Weak whites who won’t stand up for our brothers and sisters of color means the leftists will win as they flood this country and destroy the constitution without a convention. Swallow your pride and stand up to the racism leftists spray on all of us.

    • Tom Horn March 23, 2016, 2:21 pm

      You are right. Well said.

      • Aaron March 23, 2016, 6:02 pm

        I often think the left is only anti gun so they can raise the value of their stock holdings in Ruger & S&W.

        Other times, I feel they own the globe and are just waiting for America to wake up the fact it isn’t a nation.

        But then there’s another terror attack…

        If there’s one thing that can unite us, it will be the shared responsibility to defend our nation.

        The lawsuit against Colorado was just thrown out. Border states six their rights were infringed by Colorado abiding by the Bible, Genesis 1:12. As minorities are less impacted by the 13th amendment denying their right to self defense due to the reduction in state backed violence, more will be able to legally obtain and train with firearms. As fewer minorities enter the criminal justice system, my white brothers and sisters can breathe easier and feel less racist animosity. Stories like the Miami home owner defending herself don’t help persuade anyone that I’m right…

        By the way, am I the only American who reads the thirteenth amendment and wants to vomit? Some actually think it ended slavery. Yet its wording is very clear.

        But humanity isn’t binary. We’re water and momentum is flowing towards capitalism and freedom. Every day I wake up hoping I’m right that the left is just a hijacked, controlled opposition entity that doesn’t harvest human momentum. That it is just a small brake and we free peoples are too busy stomping on the accelerator to be burdened by their noise.

        Then there’s another terror attack.

        I don’t think guns will be banned, even if Hillary isn’t indicted and wins the white house. The 1300 year old beast can’t be put back in the bottle. Guns won’t be banned, they’ll be sold out.

        I’d rather have a moral victory in the courts. But you’d think the 2ND amendment is clear enough…but then again the 13th got ratified. I lose all hope when I think about it. I hope every American reads it.

    • Robin Miller March 25, 2016, 9:54 am

      I agree with this up to a point. The tightie whitie rightie boilerplate about evil liberals is silly, of course. Real-life liberals (I’m one) are nothing like the fictional Breitbart/Fox caricatures. Most of us want fairness and to have the Constitution and all our laws apply equally to all Americans, and we want all our neighbors, even the ones who do jobs some denigrate as “burger-flipping,” to lead decent lives. I know, that’s evil. But I joined the Army voluntarily to help maintain these basic American values. I’d also like to see even the poorest kids with the lousiest parents have a chance to get a decent education.

      For all we know, the next Bill Gates could be a black girl who is now going to an inner-city middle school that has ancient textbooks, mold in the walls, a library with hardly any books, and a roof that leaks when it rains. I want to make sure that girl a quality education so we can all benefit from her abilities. This country can’t afford to waste talent just because it isn’t housed in a white, male, upscale body. It’s the 21st Century, people, and technology drives our economy. We have a lot of people who have dropped out of the work force, and we also have job openings that require qualifications that are thin on the ground.

      I know it’s easy to sniffily say, “Those burger-flippers should get an education on their own. Working two or three part-time jobs that barely pay the rent and buy food is no excuse.” Yeah. Or is that something only caricature conservatives say, while real ones look for ways (including use of tax money) to help correct the way opportunity is distributed in this country?

      Note that I say “opportunity.” Only caricature liberals want guaranteed outcomes no matter what the nyuck-nyuck cartoons passed around on Facebook say. Opportunity — and a decent if minimal living standard for all working Americans is what *I* want to see, and I’m a pretty ordinary liberal when it comes to economic policy.

      And back to guns: I’ve often wondered why, instead of just yammering, the NRA and groups that agree with the NRA’s basic tenets aren’t putting together funds to help poor people of all races get low-cost guns and teach people how to use them. Carry permits, too. I don’t need training; Florida accepts a DD214 (military discharge paperwork) as proof that I know which end of a gun spits out the bullets. Still, the total cost of a CCW permit is over $100. That may be a drop in the bucket to the Trump people, but it’s a bunch of money to a dark-skinned woman you see at a bus stop in a crappy neighborhood, waiting to get to work, possibly with a mile or more of trudging to and from bus stops at each end of the trip.

      That lady is a far more likely crime victim than Mr. NRA in his suburban manse. She needs a gun for protection more than just about anyone else, especially because she might not get off work until midnight. Standing alone in the dark…. scary. And she does it, day after day, night after night, to feed the kids.

      Why isn’t there a fund to help this woman get a gun and a carry permit? Instead of running around crying, “Mommy! There’s a gun-grabber under my bed,” a pro-gun group that made defensive gun ownership easier for people living on low wages (usually in poor neighborhoods – go figure!) would get a lot more public sympathy than one that is all talk. Heck, I might even join that group myself.

      • Don B. March 25, 2016, 11:17 am

        Posts like this are why I stick with this site despite the majority of racist ‘Murica posting that goes on here. Every once in a while, I see a post like this that is thoughtful, intelligent, and germaine to the point. Thank you!

      • Mark S March 25, 2016, 12:12 pm

        Very well stated. Thank you for posting.

      • SGT-N March 25, 2016, 12:18 pm

        Due to the extreme politics of the day, mere liberals, moderates, and conservatives no longer count. As a result, the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, and other pro-gun organizations were forced to go to square one and fight the battle that the Second Amendment is a personal right in cases against the ultra-left nanny cities of Chicago and D.C. From Heller and McDonald, your very logical argument flows, and I applaud your insight.

        Unfortunately, the ultra-left, led by Ms. Clinton and Mr. Bloomberg, want not only to overturn Heller and McDonald, they want to institute more draconian gun bans, outlaw concealed carry permits, the Castle Doctrine, and stand-your-ground laws, institute a federal gun licensing and registration program, which could lead to gun confiscations, and a plethora of other misguided schemes. By using executive orders favored by the current POTUS to act in violation of the separation of powers, an ultra-left president, who is supported by an ultra-left USSCT that reverses Heller and McDonald, can sidestep the Congress. Due to these facts and scenarios, the NRA, the NSSF, and other pro-gun groups must fight each anti-gun law and action as it is proposed, but I believe it may be a losing battle this time.

      • Aaron March 25, 2016, 6:19 pm

        The moment The Right addresses the racism of democrats, you people will declare we’re trying to get more minorities killed.

        The left supports illegal immigration. This results in thousands of children being raped by cartels on their way through Mexico. There is no logic, only pure lust for power. You’d gladly see thousands of Little children get aids thru rape just to get the votes to obtain power.

        The left knows this and is fine with it.

    • Paine4444 March 25, 2016, 6:57 pm

      Indeed, Aaron, most of the late-60s gun “control” movement was about getting firearms out of the hands of the Black Panthers who had taken to openly carrying their weapons as a show of strength and willingness to defend their communities. Times for the so-called progressive left have changed in truly dispiriting ways. The red-blue dichotomy is a distraction – the aspiration is freedom and that has been thrown over for our police surveillance-nanny state. Keep making the point – because yes, gun control is largely about institutionalized racism. The stereotype of the red-necked, beer-crazed white gun nut is a media strawman. But I am guessing this is preaching to the choir here.

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