Clarification on the Machine Gun Issue

I don’t mean to make it seem like I’m suggesting we ignore the machine gun issue, pretend it doesn’t exist, and not talk about it.  Far from it.   There’s a big difference between talking about the issue, and getting on CNN or another national news outlet and saying “Why yes, we support in legalizing machine gun ownership.”

All I am saying is that it’s not time right now to have a national debate about this.   That is step 32, and we are on step 4 or 5 at most.   So if we want to move the ball forward, what do we do?

I’ll leave the comment section of this thread for folks to offer constructive suggestions on how we can get from our current state, up to being able to seriously petition congress and the public to agree to liberalize the current Title II machine gun provisions.  Remember that the starting state is the vast majority of the public, and Congress, being hostile to your idea.

28 thoughts on “Clarification on the Machine Gun Issue”

  1. It’s like a football game. We’ve got the ball on our 20. If we want to score, we need to get the ball down the field. Is the best way to do that to throw the ball as far as we can and hope that someone catches it? Or try to work our way towards the goalposts with our most effective plays?

  2. I agree. Having this turn into a debate on machine guns would be bad for us.

    I think we need a much stronger gun culture and a lot more legal precedent on our side before we even think about raising machine guns as an issue. Even then I am not sure it would be a wise issue to fight over except in extraordinarily favorable circumstances.

    The best solution would probably be in getting rid of the ban the same way it was first passed- as a rider attached to a crime or gun bill, at the last moment during conference, with a voice vote.

  3. OTOH, I’m of the opinion there are more odious provisions of NFA ’34; but the goal should be to get rid of each of them individually and gradually. Take the Brady course in reverse; after all, that’s how we got here…

  4. I don’t think NFA is a steel fortress, but certain parts of it come pretty close. It might be that we can never win on the machine gun issue. To some degree, we are where we are now because that’s where most of the population and the politicians want us to be. Activists on both sides aren’t all that happy with the status quo, but most people aren’t pissed off enough about it to change it either way.

  5. Most people will keep a $100 bill even if they saw who dropped it. Doesn’t make it right.

  6. One aspect of this debate that many people seem to be missing.

    Is anyone really expecting the support of the NFA community on this issue? If the NRA came out and pushed hard for repeal of the NFA or even the Lautenburg amendment, do you think people who currently own class III weapons would support it?

    Let’s see: I want a machine gun. I go through the process, fill out the paperwork, beg permission from my chief law enforcement officer (possibly including a significant campaign contribution), wait an interminable time for approval, pay the $200 tax, reconcile myself to the fact that I am now and forever more on a high profile government list, make copies of all the pertinent paperwork and file them with my attorney for the very real possibility that the government loses my registration and tries to charge me…then I go out and pay upwards of $20,000 for a fully automatic firearm.

    And I’m going to support a measure that would, virtually overnight, reduce the value of that investment to, maybe, a couple of thousand dollars?

    Um…I’m thinking…no.

    The NFA community would fight us every step of the way. This battle simply is not worth fighting right now. Not only would it give ammo to the anti-gun community to paint us as dangerous nuts, it would split the gun rights community wide open. And the anti’s would even have legitimate use of the old canard “see, even the gun nuts oppose this one.”

    The NFA battle is one we cannot win in the current climate…we may NEVER be able to win that one.

    I’m with Sebastian on this one. Our position on this issue should be “current laws are working fine with regard to machine guns…there is no need to change them at this time in either direction.”

  7. Also with scores of people having never fired a single-shot .22, let alone a semi-auto gun, and the Brady Bunch and a vast quantity of the media making a measured effort to confuse the terms “Semi-Auto” and “Full Auto” and terms like “Assault Weapons” and “Assault Rifle”. To most of the average suburban liberal (and even I’m sure a bunch of conservatives) guns are the boogie-man. If guns are the Boogie-man, Machine Guns are nuclear weapons.

    We make a huge stink about how horrible the life of NFA holders are, meanwhile there are huge battle-grounds where people can’t own basic defensive arms, we definetly could loose it all.

    When most people are as comphortable and understanding about guns as they are about, say, cars (hell most people don’t even know how many pistons are in their engine, let alone how to change the oil…but they know that the car won’t “just go off” the road and kill people by the score without any imput from the driver) then we can start talking about the NFA.

  8. Honestly, the 1934 NFA is a nuisance more than anything else. What I’d love to see changed is that damned ’85 law (or was it ’86) that prohibited the manufacture of new machine guns for civilian use. Legally purchased machine guns were not being used in crimes. Yet they made a law to ban new ones anyway, fixing a problem that didn’t exist.

    I realize that one isn’t going to change anytime soon either. But if you’re going to pick one to remove, I’d take the Reagan era one over the Roosevelt one any day.

  9. Sailorcurt, even a lot of progun individuals don’t want a repeal of the stuff that makes automatics worth so much. But actually getting rid of the looseness in the law that allows the BATFE to screw people for a slamfire, or pursue a potato gun or ‘unsporting’ shotgun like it were a cannon. Hell, point out the violation of privacy that the NFA registration requires, such as the requirement to tell the ATF every time you cross borders.

  10. Does anyone know how well machine guns sold before they were [nationally] restricted? I get the impression that not many people bought them, instead purchasing more traditional weapons.

  11. Not many people went through the NFA process. How many people have SBRs and SBSs today? Or suppressors? People don’t want to jump through the hoops. I suspect if you changed the law, you’d have a sudden surge in demand, but not many people would want to bother. Even I wouldn’t load up on more than a few full auto pieces, because there’s not many places I can shoot them. I’d be happy with an M4, an AK-74, and some kind of submachine gun. I’d still keep my semi-auto stuff.

  12. An alternative would be to get rid of or reduce the NFA requirements, with a ‘poison pill’ about new manufacture and transfer without an FFL, which would increase demand without increasing supply.

    I don’t particularly want one, and I kinda like some limitations (if only so people don’t grab one of the automatic GLOCKs they day they turn 21 and get surprised when their first violation of the four rules makes 33 holes in a wall), but the current system is counterproductive, grabs roughly innocent people, and invades privacy far too much. On the other hand, having a part of the NRA acting like they’re a poisonous subject does a lot of damage on the hearts and minds deal.

  13. I think the only real way we’re going to get holes punched in the NFA is by the courts. I don’t see any way to win on this politically. In order to even get the 1986 ban repealed, you’d probably have to offer up a compromise, and I’m not talking about one we’d be happy with. We’d have to throw other shooters under the bus, and that would not be acceptable.

    The only deal I’d accept for ridding ourselves of the Hughes Amendment is a requirement that the tax be increased. 500 dollars wouldn’t totally suck. 1000 dollars would piss me off, but I’d take it, because it would still bring the price down. I wouldn’t like having to pay 2500 for an M4, but it beats today’s price.

    The other thing that could be possible is allowing a small number of registrations a year.

    And the sad part is, even those paltry concessions would require we have a much more pro-gun congress than we currently do.

  14. Most people will keep a $100 bill even if they saw who dropped it. Doesn’t make it right.

    Straightarrow… I never said it was right. But it’s what we’re stuck with. The question is how to get from where we are now to me being able to buy a new M4. Unfortunately, being right has little to do with that.

  15. Well as I have said somewhere else, if being right doesn’t matter. Do away with the Bill of Rights and let the meanest sonofabitch have his way as long as he can back it up with force.

    Which is just another way of saying what you did.

  16. Oops. I said “Lautenberg Amendment” but I meant “Hughes Amendment.” I knew what I meant, I just got my smarmy politicians mixed up. Sorry. They all look the same to me.

  17. I posted my views on this on my blog. My summation on the issued is excerpted as follows:

    Repeal of a good chunk of the NFA’34 (and the GCA’68) are endgame goals for us in the rights community. I would caution that we not get too big for our britches and see ourselves on an unstoppable rampage with the return of our rights over the past decade or so.

    I would remind those that the Brady Campaign and the VPC were in a similar position in the late 80s and into the mid-90s and they took that one step too far. We can easily find ourselves in the same position if we push too hard, too fast or in the wrong places. Working on the Hughes Amendment is one of those areas.

    It took decades for these laws to be erected against us. It will take an almost similar amount of time for us to win the mindshare of the populace back. Only when the average person sees a gun an inanimate object and an American birthright and only criminal scum as those who need to be punished and not the legal gun owner will we be in a position to challenge the NFA.

  18. Baby steps. If we push too hard, we risk the same kind of backlash that is hitting the gay marriage supporters (of which I am one, mind).

    The restrictions will almost certainly take longer to take down than they did to put up, barring some kind of miracle from the courts, and even then expect pushback from people who can’t read plain english

  19. Ian is correct. I may not be possible to get rid of some of them at all. It’s very difficult to get law repealed, even bad law that most people agree is bad is very difficult to get repealed. This will be a long, hard fight, I’m afraid.

  20. A thought just occurred to me…spurred by a previous comment.

    If we actually got legislation introduced to repeal the Hughes amendment, how would the Brady bunch and MSM frame their arguments against it?

    I mean…if they start screaming about us trying to loosen the restrictions on “machine guns”, won’t they be outing the arguments they’ve been making against “assault weapons” for all these years?

    I mean, they’ve been saying that AK-47 “assault weapons” are as easy to buy as candy ever since the ban on scary looking cosmetic features on rifles expired in 2004.

    What would they say about this? That it would make buying “assault weapons” EASIER than buying candy? That the evil NRA will be handing them out on street corners if this legislation passes? In stead of playing footage of automatic weapons while talking about this issue, they’d play footage of…what…nuclear explosions?

    We may not be able to get anywhere with the legislation and we’d still raise the ire of the existing NFA community; but at least we might get a chance to show the uninitiated that the MSM and Brady bunch have been lying to them all these years.

    I know, it’s probably a silly idea, but there’s no law against provoking thought now is there?

  21. Ok, step one: I want a suppressor! You know, one of those $40 items that you can get in some European HARDWARE STORES. Use a suppressor its only polite.

  22. I think one of the most important issues in the gun rights community would first be repealing the Hughes Amendment, which is possible, but would require intensive legal action. If we could get that through we shouldn’t have much problem getting rid of the “sporting purposes” part of the 1968 GCA which is wholly unconstitutional. As for the NFA I don’t have much of a problem where it is now; it does not need a tax increase due to the fact that the paperwork is restriction enough. I’d really like to get a Micro Uzi or an FN P90.

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