Dave Hardy on FOPA

This appears in this month’s First Freedom. It’s a fairly comprehensive article on FOPA:

When the struggle started in 1979, Jimmy Carter was in the White House. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts and Rep. Peter Rodino of New Jersey controlled the two judiciary committees that would have to approve the bill. And when the long haul was ending some seven years later, the measure had passed through the Senate, but Rodino still chaired the House Judiciary Committee and was proclaiming the bill “dead on arrival.” At the outset, NRA was a fraction of its current size, rejoicing in having grown from 600,000 members to a full 1 million. The NRA Institute for Legislative Action was barely four years old. The Internet was still far in the future, and anti-gunners had a solid lock on the mass media, where gun owners were depicted as demonic and the NRA as the prince of darkness—all images perpetuated by what is today known as the Brady Campaign, the American Bar Association and the u.s. Conference of Mayors.

The fight seemed impossible, yet we won. FOPA, as it became known, didn’t just change the restrictive Gun Control Act of 1968, it overruled no fewer than six anti-gun Supreme Court decisions and about one-third of the hundreds of lower court rulings interpreting the Gun Control Act.

Read the whole thing. It goes into detail ordinary people having their lives ruined by an overly aggressive ATF. I’ve said before, our opponents like the hew and haw that we’ve cropped enforcement, but that’s largely a creature of their own making. They’ve created an environment where there can be no common sense, but common sense to them involves no one having guns. You can’t negotiate when that’s the starting point.

Dave ends the article with talk about the Hughes Amendment, but think it was probably necessary to pass FOPA, even despite it:

In 2011, we seem to be at the beginning of a new stage in the American gun culture. Firearm sales are at record levels, many anti-gun politicians fear to touch the issue and the courts are recognizing the constitutional right of gun ownership. Would we have survived this far if, for the last 25 years, gun dealers had been subject to arrest on paperwork errors and their entire inventories confiscated even if they were found not guilty; and gun shows had regularly seen half a dozen honest collectors hauled away in handcuffs? It’s safe to say that the entire picture of gun ownership would be different. 1986 was the last, best shot at getting these protections. To kill the bill, lose seven years of development and alienate the majority of representatives who had rebelled against their leadership by signing the discharge petition would have ended hopes for stopping the many abuses.

The truth is we lost the battle for machine guns in 1934. It’s a shame people back then didn’t fight for them, but they didn’t, and that’s what we’re stuck with today.

15 thoughts on “Dave Hardy on FOPA”

  1. “They’ve created an environment where there can be no common sense,”

    No more compromise. I’m tired of being called names for thinking The Constitution is important, and I’m tired of these idiots ruining my country.

  2. Did we lose the battle for suppressors and SBR on SBS in 1934?

    Most Americans can still buy them for fairly reasonable prices. They aren’t lost.

  3. We came extremely close to losing machineguns totally in 1968, and kept them only through the efforts of two men acting on their own. It’s not widely known and that’s kind of a shame, as it’s kind of inspiring.

    What we have now is awful, but it’s better than the alternative.

  4. “The truth is we lost the battle for machine guns in 1934. ”

    I haven’t given up.

    “It’s a shame people back then didn’t fight for them, but they didn’t, and that’s what we’re stuck with today.”

    It’s a shame if YOU don’t fight for them. All things move towards their end – including the NFA.

  5. I wouldn’t give up on it, but I also wouldn’t make it a priority, since it’s not a short term achievable goal, either though the courts or the legislature.

  6. Why not? It’s not like there’s a powerful interest group pushing for the ban – hell you could fit all of America’s gun control groups in a single bus if you were busing them to a protest.

    Sure, there’s an overall social stigma against machineguns, but I’d think we can get a lot of people who will work to get them back, more then will actually work to keep them banned. And remember, many people – thanks to the Brady’s – think that assault rifles are available in the shops.

  7. Sure, there’s an overall social stigma against machine-guns

    That’s the answer to your question. That has to change first.

  8. Ian: The Soviets started printing “We’ll Walk to Berlin” posters around that time.

  9. But they still had to get there through Poland, and occupied Ukraine…

    It’s instructive to note that the gun control movement did NOT build the foundations of their laws very well. It’s a rickety edifice of self-contradictory law, regulation, and bureaucratic opinion. It only survives because no-one has been willing to push. We should learn from that; and build a foundation to a firewall for freedom strong enough to repel the pendulum when it comes back around.

    I’m not saying the goal is unattainable – but I’d rather have Overlord than Market Garden. (I’m not as familiar with the Eastern Front to be able to make a similar reference there.)

  10. The question is NOT whether there are people who oppose a repeal of 922(o). The question is not even how many of these people there are. THe question is: how MUCH do they care? How many of tem care enough that they’ll actually vote based on that?

    And of these, how many people will donate money to opponents, volunteer, etc. based on that?

    On the other hand: how many of the people on our side are ready to write letters, volunteer, do things to get their rights back?

    THAT is what going to decide the outcome of such a struggle.

    Me? I think Ian’s right.

    >It’s instructive to note that the gun control movement did >NOT build the foundations of their laws very well. It’s a >rickety edifice of self-contradictory law, regulation, and >bureaucratic opinion. It only survives because no-one has >been willing to pus

  11. We lost a lot of other rights in the 1930s, along with any effective limitations on the power of the federal government.

    There’s some hope that the political pendulum is finally beginning to swing the other way. Maybe we’ll see a re-invigorated Commerce Clause when Florida v HHS reaches the Supreme Court… and maybe soon we’ll see some Congressional loosening of § 922(o), too.

    We can always hope.

  12. I think 922(o) is vulnerable to an HONEST review by SCOTUS.

    NFA is a tax measure. PRECISELY because Congress knew (and it was heavily discussed in teh debate) it was unconstitutional to just ban them.

    SCOTUS could :

    1. Throw out 922(o), and only 922(o).

    2. Allow 922(o) to stand, but ONLY for guns imported, ACTUALLY involved in interstate commerce, or which are made manufactured by an FFL/SOT (Congress canrestrict what it’s licenses grant). In other words, you could Form 1 guns again, and do private party transfers, and those guns would not be NFA restricted, unless you tried to sell them across state lines.

    3. Throw out the possession restriction, but keep the fact that 922(o) effectively prohibits registering and taxing post-May 86 guns, i.e., post-May guns would be NFA exempt.

    4. Throw out the registration and tax requirements of the NFA for ALL machineguns, on teh basis that Congress cannot prohibit you from having guns, but they can decide to make it impossioble to tax them. In otehr words, 922(o) invalidated teh justification for teh rest of teh NFA in regards to machneguns.

    Remember teh ruling when a state passed a tax law covering marijuana, including little tax stamps to prove tax paid registry like the NFA stamps? I’m working from memory here, but as I recallit, it went like this:

    They tried to bust a guy for not having stamps. He claimed they wouldn;t sell him any when he asked. Courts threw it out — if you HAVE a tax stamp setup, then BY DEFINITION, you have to allow people to pay teh tax and get the stamp, and if they paid teh tax and got the stamp, you couldn’t even go back and bust them for possession. . . by issuing a stamp, the government was estopped because of entrapment.

    Anyone see a parallel that provides an approach against 922(o)?

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