Earlier this week I posted something I’ve been mulling over:

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.

I think I chose my words poorly here, and didn’t really get the point across that I wanted to make.  I shouldn’t say that we ought to proclaim our faithful support of the National Firearms Act.  I don’t believe that, and I know most of you don’t either.

But I’m not going to take on the National Firearms Act any time soon, and I don’t think it’s realistic to expect our public interest groups on the issue to do so either.  If there’s anything I think might be possible on machine guns, my shorter term goal is the 1986 ban on new registrations.   I would like to either eliminate or weaken that.  If I have to tell a politician, media person, or other person of influence “It’s not that big a deal.  We still have the NFA, and all its requirements, and I’m not asking you to get rid of those.  But this ban is a problem for reasons x, y, and z.”, I’ll do it.

Once that happens, and the sky doesn’t fall, we might be able to ease more restrictions.  Get people comfortable taking baby steps, and it all adds up.  It certainly has with concealed carry.  This will take a long time.  It’s hard to get bad laws repealed, even when most people agree they are bad laws.  It’s even tougher to get bad laws repealed that most people actively support.   We can’t even get the Veterans Heritage Firearms Act passed, which is only a minor period of amnesty from the ban on new registrations.

So just to clarify I’m not suggest anyone switch their position and embrace the NFA with heart and soul.  But we might need to stand on it to convince people to take that baby step forward.

9 Responses to “Reconsidering”

  1. Rustmeister says:

    I think you’re on to something. Incrementalism works both ways.

  2. Jadegold says:

    IOW, you’re not going to tell the truth.

  3. dwlawson says:

    No, that is your tactic, Jaded.

  4. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Jadegold, quick question:

    When you were on Usenet, did you hang out with “Rack Jite”, “Loren Petrich”, “David Fuller Dahlman”, and “Jim

    If so, I think you were arguing with Dave Hardy on Usenet about ten years ago. You might be able to trademark “gunloon” with a history like that.

    The GunNet is closer knitted than I ever imagined.

  5. thirdpower says:

    Just like the Brady Bunch when they state that they don’t support gun bans and then go on to support gun bans.

  6. NFA is a lot of paperwork, but that isn’t what prevents most people from owning a machine gun. What prevents is usually the more restrictive licensing that some states have.

    Does NFA bother me. Not entirely. What bothers me is that the 1986 prohibition on new manufacture for civilians is clearly unconstitutional. The advocates for NFA, back in 1934, the Attorney General, the Assistant Attorney General, and several members of the Ways & Means Committee, when discussing it, acknowledged that a complete ban on machine gun ownership by civilians was contrary to the Second Amendment. That’s part of how Stephen Halbrook won U.S. v. Rock Island Armory (C.D.Ill. 1991), when they were charged with a criminal violation of the 1986 amendment. The government chose not to appeal the decision for fear of becoming binding on the entire circuit.

    Just a few points that will probably get some of you outraged with me: gun registration, even mandatory gun registration, is Constitutional. It isn’t terribly effective, except for enforcing gun control laws. The Supreme Court has declared that convicted felons can’t be punished for failure to register–only the rest of us can be punished for failure to register. Most Americans–even those who lean towards gun control–tend to start laughing when they find out about the exemption that convicted felons enjoy.

    A gun registration law that imposes high costs, such as the $200 transfer tax for NFA, is almost certainly unconstitutional. As a thought experiment, consider what would happen in an alternate reality where social conservatives were a major influence on the government, and elective abortions were subject to a $10,000 federal excise tax. Does anyone seriously doubt that the courts would rule that this violated the magic right to abortion hiding under the Ninth Amendment inkblot?

    If the government in its infinitesimal wisdom passes a mandatory gun registration law of any sort, it should be free, because there’s no difference in principle between a $10 registration fee and a $100,000 registration fee. A $10 fee is annoying; a $100,000 fee is prohibitive.

  7. dwlawson says:

    I’ve wondered why no one has challenged the parts of NFA that are unconstitutional. As a resident of IL, I’d have to wiggle past my state’s ban before I could worry about NFA.

    Given the 86 prohibition, I can’t afford an NFA firearm anyway.

    Seems like there should be a lesson there.

  8. To challenge NFA requires you to either be requesting a court to issue declarative relief (not very likely) so that you don’t have to go through the procedures to buy an NFA weapon, or be fighting a criminal charge for illegal manufacturing, possession, or purchase. The criminal penalties are severe; no rational person would set himself up to be a test case for fear of losing.

  9. Alcibiades McZombie says:

    Oh, wait, I messed up. It was actually more like Jadegold and Clayton Cramer passing like two ships in the night… then crash into each other ten years later.

    [Cue Twilight Zone music.]

    I thought attaching background checks to a tax would be unconstitutional. My point may be moot now that we have NICS and whatnot, but it seems abusive to the tax system.

    It would make more sense (to me at least) to just put firearms purchases under a militia law. It would seem easy to put background check qualifications in such a law.