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Throwing NFA Collectors Under the Bus?

I agree with Uncle over at his post on NRA and machine guns. Just for the record, here’s the context:

BECK: We’ve already had that. We don’t put NASCARs onto highways and we don`t put machine guns into the hands of people, either.

HELMKE: That’s an interesting issue because there was a machine gun in effect ban that was passed by the federal government in 1934. What’s the NRA’s impression of that?

BECK: Chris, Chris.

HELMKE: How about the Brady Bill?

BECK: Chris, are you for fully automatic machine guns?

COX: We’ve never advocated fully automatic machine guns and Paul knows it. But, again, Glenn, this is very basic. It’s —

HELMKE: How about Brady background checks?

COX: Paul, let me finish.

You guys supported waiting periods. You didn’t support instant checks. So let me finish. The basic question is do you support an individual, a good honest person, and their right to own a firearm for self-defense? Sarah Brady has said there’s no reason to own a gun, you can`t own a gun for self-defense. Paul, and his group have filed —

(CROSS TALK)

COX: Paul, your group filed in this Supreme Court case briefs saying that the Second Amendment was not an individual right. That honest Americans did not have the right to own a firearm.

(CROSS TALK)

COX: You’re wrong, Paul. And you’re wrong to go on national TV and suggest that you somehow support the Second Amendment, when your actions speak louder than your words.

If you want my opinion, Helmke was deliberately trying to get Chris to go on record as being for a gun control law. I know the Brady’s read gun blogs, including this one (I’ve seen them in the logs). They keep track of the arguments we have within our community. Recently they are pushing HR2640 heavily on their blog. We know that they have been trying divide and conquer tactics in the past, and I believe this is part of that.

The machine gun issue is a touchy one. Touchy because it’s fraught with political land mines. For one, the vast majority of the population doesn’t think they ought to be legal. For two, there would be a lot of NFA collectors who would oppose changing the law, because it would send the value of their collection into the toilet. For three, there’s no way in hell you’ll ever get a repeal of the 1986 Hughes Amendment out of congress, unless the NRA suddenly gets a lot more political clout.

We have a long long way to go on the machine gun issue. Right now, it’s going to be about winning hearts and minds. But I agree with Uncle that we can’t throw machine gun collectors, and people who want to be machine gun collectors, under the bus. We have to find a way to deal with this issue publicly, and mold the debate so that a future step can be taken if there’s a favorable change in the political climate.

Now, some of you aren’t going to like this, but the public rhetoric needs to be that we support the National Firearms Act. The only way, you’re ever going to convince the public and the politicians to repeal the 1986 Hughes Amendment is to convince them that the NFA was just fine, and that the 1986 ban went too far, and is too restrictive. Even this is going to be a hard sell, I’m sorry to say. But if you just say “repeal it all” the public and politicians are just going to say “no” and dismiss you.

Politicians, and sadly most of the public, don’t think your second amendment rights extend to legal ownership of machine guns, and they aren’t going to be swayed by an abstract argument about resisting government tyranny or the natural rights of man. Step one is convincing people that repealing the 1986 ban isn’t really a big deal. We’ll burn the other bridges when we come to them.

UPDATE: David Codrea disagrees.

24 Responses to “Throwing NFA Collectors Under the Bus?”

  1. dwlawson says:

    We need to take baby steps. If an incremental divide and conquer approach works for them, it can work for us.

    We need to take it apart a piece at a time. Each time a piece falls the facts will show that we were right and doomsday has not happened and the next piece can fall.

  2. gattsuru says:

    First rule of the Republican Party, don’t speak ill of a Republican.
    First rule of being part of the goddamn NRA, widely portrayed as the absolutist gun nut organization, don’t speak ill of legal gun owners.

    You can’t say something positive about a type of lawful gun ownership without facing political fallout? Oh, that’s really tough. Wait, you have not one but two neurons in your head — a relic from passing the bar — and by frantically rubbing the two together we can find types of unlawful gun ownership that the NRA and gun rights movement as a whole doesn’t oppose.

    I mean, fuck, age to purchase, shipping limitations, residency requirements, unexpunged felon in possession, weapons of mass destruction… and he goes for “machine guns”?

  3. DirtCrashr says:

    Didn’t the NRA support the ’34 ban on machineguns?

  4. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I thought most NFA collectors were for changing the law to allow new machine guns. Sure, they’d lose money, but they are enthusiasts first, and enthusiasts spend boatloads of money.

  5. Jadegold says:

    Actually, it’s a bigger issue than just machine guns. If you actually hallucinate the notion that individuals have a right to arms–why stop at machine guns? Why not field artillery pieces?

    If you actually believe arms ownership is akin to free speech, that means you have to accept those aspects you may not necessarily agree with–like flag-burning or truly offensive speech.

    The fact is only a small fringe of the gunloon community really wants their neighbor to own sarin gas or plant landmines in the front yard. And this where the individual rights foolishness is exposed in all its glory.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Some of them are, Alcibiades, but some of them have a substantial investment in them, and wouldn’t want to give them up. There are sure to be collectors who will oppose allowing new registrations.

    DirtCrashr: NRA was involved with drafting the NFA, to avoid some really odious definitions that would have caused a large number of guns to be classified as machine guns, but they generally opposed it at the time. At least that was my understanding. Originally, NFA was drafted to include the Uniform Firearm Act definition of machine gun, which is the same one DC uses today. Anything that can hold more than 12 rounds would be a machine gun, and subject to NFA.

  7. SayUncle says:

    I think the original NFA treated handguns as NFA weapons but NRA lobbied against that. They traded suppressors instead, IIRC.

  8. Sebastian says:

    Every individual rights has its limitation, Jade. Colonial arms controls contained restrictions on explosive ordnance, for obvious reasons. Certain types of ordnance had to be stored in the town armory, rather than at home.

    The second amendment is likely understood as applying to personal arms; the types that a militia member would be expected to show up to muster with. The second amendment would be no obstacle to the regulation of ordnance.

  9. gattsuru says:

    Why not field artillery pieces?

    Because it’s a right to bear arms, not artillery pieces?

    The 1700s-1800s definition of arms included a lot of different things : sabers, rifles, knives, pistols, et all. Artillery pieces were considered ordinance, as were other crew-served weapons.

  10. GeorgeH says:

    “Actually, it’s a bigger issue than just machine guns. If you actually hallucinate the notion that individuals have a right to arms–why stop at machine guns? Why not field artillery pieces?”

    I think a rational case can be made that “Arms” in the second amendment means small arms, not crew served weapons.

    If the supremes give us a win on the DC appeal, I expect it to be as important as the censorship rulings of the early 1950s. At first a few ‘obscene’ pieces of literature like Lady Chatterley’s Lover were allowed, but in ruling after ruling free speech and freedom of the press grew to really mean what they say. Over the next generation I expect to see all but a handful of gun laws ruled unconstitutional.

  11. Sebastian says:

    I should note that in colonial times, that it was perfectly OK for you to store your howitzer at home, just as long as you weren’t keeping exploding ordnance there too :) And then only in town. If you had a lot of land and your own armory off in the country, knock yourself out.

  12. dwlawson says:

    The fact is only a small fringe of the gunloon community really wants their neighbor to own sarin gas or plant landmines in the front yard. And this where the individual rights foolishness is exposed in all its glory.

    Right on cue, Jade brings out the PSH about arms including weapons of mass destruction. It’s a sad, pathetic way to divert the focus off their lack of real arguments.

  13. DirtCrashr says:

    Why not field artillery? Jade’s a famous fabulous and flamboyant troll – no sarin gas for you! OSHA says NO!

  14. Jadegold says:

    I note with amusement, and not a little irony, the very fine distinctions made by gunloons. We are told “arms” are things like muskets and knives–stuff you can keep around the home. In reality, the early US armories held rifles, pistols–along with heavier weapons.

  15. Sebastian says:

    That may be so, but people were still permitted, and expected in some cases, to keep small arms, certain quantities of powder and ball in the home.

  16. thirdpower says:

    So the butterbar is now advocating for the right to keep heavy weapons? He and Gottlieb should talk.

  17. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Haven’t we already had this discussion on what constitutes “arms”?

  18. Jadegold says:

    Life must be one long fog of confusion for Third.

    No, Third, I’m not advocating a right to “heavy weapons”–I am merely pointing out yet another inconsistency in the gunloon argument.

  19. thirdpower says:

    You know Jade, mankind took millions of years to evolve the thumb. You should do more with yours than keep it shoved up your *ss. Try pulling it out and using it to flip through a dictionary for the word “sarcasm”.

  20. R.J. says:

    Well, it looks like our venom spitting friend, Glassbrass, is back! (Hey, as long as you insist on insulting us with names like “gunloons”, Jadegold, expect the like in return!)

    Now, as to where to draw the line by which the 2A is bounded, I think between “arms” as in “personal arms”, and “ordnance” as in crew-served weapons as well as explosives, is a good, solid designation, and not some “hallucination”.

    As I said before, if you have to resort to name-calling, you show your arguments to be factually and morally bankrupt.

  21. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I think JadeGold is illustrating a false dichotomy for us. In his view, either all types of weapons are protected for individual use, or none are. Knowing that few people would agree that all weapons should be treated the same, he wants us to say that no arms are protected.

    He also snuck in the word “armory” somewhere in the comment thread, attempting to confuse the issue of private ownership.

  22. straightarrow says:

    As the idea behind the second amendment was to prohibit infringement of arms to the people so that they may thwart the forces of evil government, ours or others’, it seems unlikely they would exclude arms of such sufficiency and effectiveness as to make the task unachievable.

  23. Mike Girard says:

    Didn’t the NRA support the ‘34 ban on machineguns?

    Comment by DirtCrashr on October 8th, 2007

    Answer: They were asleep at the wheel. Useless organization. I once called up the line to add a subscription and told them I would only join if they would support a repeal of the NFA or of getting a case to the US supreme Court to nullify all gun control, especially the NFA–and I had to explain to the guy what the NFA—HE yelled at me telling me I was crazy if I wanted for myself or anyone else, access to machine guns. I didn’t bother telling him that people already own them. The upshot is that they are useless—They were created as a sportsman’s organization and that is essentially all they are still. Even that they do poorly.

  24. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    I seem to remember the NRA being founded by Union officers who desired to improve the marksmanship of soldiers…

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