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Senator Gillibrand Smears Gun Companies

Presidential contender Kirsten Gillibrand, Democratic Senator from New York, defamed gun companies while speaking to reporters and supporters.

The video is available below.

Senator Gillibrand makes the following specific claims regarding firearm manufacturers:

  • “They want to oppose universal background checks, because they want to sell an assault rifle to a teenager in a Walmart.”
  • “… or to someone on a terror watch list”
  • “… or to someone gravely mentally ill with a violent background”
  • “… or to someone with a criminal conviction for a violent crime”
  • “That’s why they won’t oppose something as simple as bump stocks, or banning assault rifles or large magazines.”
  • “They want to sell those things, no matter what, to anybody.”
  • “They are corrupt.”
  • She also brought up the topic of a federal “anti-trafficking law”

First, firearm manufactures and dealers are heavily regulated now and work to comply with the law. They are required to register with the ATF, keep meticulous records and inventory, and be subject to inspections. In cases where they fail to do so, they have been prosecuted (for instance, in 2014 Stag Arms was investigated for improper record keeping and the owner ultimately pled guilty, leading to the sale of the company). The ATF has a fact sheet available which summarizes the cases they have investigated and their inspection statistics.

Second, to Gillibrand’s specific charge of manufacturers wanting to “sell an assault rifle to a teenager in a Walmart,” Walmart – as a business – is a licensed dealer (an FFL). Thus, they are required to have buyers complete an ATF Form 4473 (available here). Gillibrand fails to define “assault rifle” (which Democrats are increasingly trying to define as simply semi-automatic rifles) nor “teenager.” It is legal today for an 18 year-old to buy a rifle under federal law. Democrats are, however, trying to raise that age to 21; this is difficult to square with their simultaneous call for 16 year-olds to vote. How is a person too young to own a rifle at 18, but old enough to vote in our Republic at 16?

Third, people with criminal backgrounds, those mentally ill, and others are already “prohibited persons” under federal law, ineligible to purchase or own a firearm (see the Form 4473). The issue with the terror watch list is that it is opaque and has no due process mechanism to remove oneself from the list, or even to find out if a person is on the list; if these two problems were fixed, then it could be reasonable to include this category as a “prohibited person.”

Fourth, the issue with bump stocks is that it is a mechanical device which uses the shooter’s technique, along with the force of recoil, to quickly depress the trigger. Each pull of the trigger still only fires one shot. Existing federal law defines a machine gun as a firearm that is capable of firing more than one shot with a single pull of the trigger. Banning bump stocks is an attempt to broaden the definition of machine gun to such an extent that it becomes ill-defined and subject to the ATF, under subsequent administrations, to continually consider whether or not new devices fall under this ban. While the wisdom of the existing ban on machine guns is debatable, it is at least objective: does the trigger fire more than one shot? Instead, the ban on bump stocks rests upon a subjective definition: does the trigger fire more “quickly” than politicians like? This opens the door to arbitrary enforcement.

Fifth, “Assault rifles” and “large magazines” suffer a similar problem of definitions. Democrats are trying to define assault rifles to be AR-15 pattern rifles (also called modern sporting rifles). These rifles are incredibly popular, due to their light weight, modularity, and affordability. In addition, many Americans feel comfortable with their manual of arms due to prior military service. However, they remain semi-automatic rifles rather than the full automatic or burst fire rifles used by the military. In this regard, they are the same as the semi-auto .22 used by kids to learn to shoot or by adults to plink. By allowing politicians to classify AR-15 as assault rifles, the ground work will have been laid for them to later point out the fact that other rifles are substantially similar to them in function and thus call for bans on them as well. Regarding magazines, what is “large?” A standard magazine for AR-15 rifles is 30 rounds; for pistols it can range anywhere up to 17 rounds or so. The irony of the now-expired 1994 Assault Weapons Ban is that by banning magazines over 10 rounds, it drove the growth of concealed carry and the liberalization of carry laws. After all, why buy a large gun if you can only have 10 rounds? Why not make guns smaller anyway and more comfortable for carry?

Finally, purchasing firearms for other people is already illegal under federal law. Gillibrand’s call for a federal anti-trafficking law seems to allude to some need to keep people from buying guns in one state and then selling them in another state with less strict laws. Passing another law prohibiting this action seems ineffective. Perhaps enforcement of existing laws would be better than creating new, unenforced laws?

Demonizing lawful commerce and lawful Americans seems to be the new tactic for Leftists. It seems less about the “solution” and more about the power which can be derived through such demonization.

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