On November 17, 1993, I was not yet 20 years old. That was the day the federal assault weapons ban was voted on (See my History of the Assault Weapons Ban). I had a lot going on in my life then. My mother’s cancer had just been deemed terminal, and she would die shortly after the ban went into effect. I was also a sophomore in college. While I was aware of the debate, and definitely opposed to any ban, I did not think anything like that could pass in this country.
“How could they pass that? It’s clearly a violation of the Second Amendment,” I thought.
I knew enough about guns to know the difference between a semi-auto rifle and a machine gun. I had attended gun shows with an uncle in the late 80s, and was corrected when asked about the machine guns.
“No, those aren’t machine guns. They are civilianized. They only fire semi-automatically.”
“You should get one.”
“No, that’s a commie rifle, boy.”
It was a Chinese Norinco, which can’t be imported anymore. He was looking for M1 Carbines, which I recall were a cheap and plentiful back then. My Uncle got a few M1 Carbines during the last hellish period gun owners went through, and he wasn’t buying them strictly for defense against criminals, if you know what I mean. The supposed “insurrectionist” theory of the Second Amendment is always how I understood it growing up, even though I came from a house that did not have firearms.
I spent most of that time believing it just couldn’t be passed, and even if it was passed, surely it has to be unconstitutional. I had no idea that it could be, and that it was a reality in California already. I was wrong. When the Assault Weapons Ban passed, and went into effect, that was the point that I became concerned about this issue to start paying attention to it, and the more I learned, the more angry I got. This culminated in my first purchase of a semi-auto Romanian AK-47 variant in 2000 for about $300. I bought 1000 rounds of ammo with it for 80 bucks. I joined the NRA for the first time. After that, I learned there were people who did not believe the Second Amendment was any individual right at all. Then I learned of the lies and deceptions on the part of gun control advocates. I read a lot of papers and publications by Dave Kopel, Dave Hardy, Steve Halbrook, and Don Kates, all of whom I have subsequently met since I took up blogging. Their scholarship was instrumental in bringing me to where I am now.
My journey from concerned citizen to activist took from 1994 to 2006 or so. We’re not going to have that kind of time today. It took a serious loss in 1994 to wake me up to the fact that the Second Amendment was actually controversial, and that there were forces at work who wanted to see it redacted from the Constitution, and it’s true intent ignored. The threat we’re facing today is more severe than in 1994. Confiscation is being openly discussed. Don’t think it can’t happen, and spend twelve years to really get involved. If gun owners today, especially people who like black rifles, are as complacent as I was, we could be facing a meltdown, and one which will take decades to fix, if it can be fixed at all. Don’t be like I was.
UPDATE: I forgot to mention Clayton’s scholarship, which I didn’t find until I was already pretty deep in the rabbit hole. Probably somewhere around the 2003-2004 timeframe.