Fun Fact of the Day

I was just entering high school in 1989, when New Jersey started the great Assault Weapons debate, so I did not know this. Seen on the Internets from someone who would know:

In ’89 New Jersey Could Have Beaten the Assault Firearm Ban if We Agreed to Assault Firearms Permits. We Said “No Compromise.” We Lost. Its Still Law.

Assault Weapons bans are culture killers. People who get into shooting enough will tend to leave states that have passed them. Would New Jersey gun owners have been better off taking that deal? At the very least it would have bought time. Sure, they might have banned them eventually, but at least they would have had to fight twice on the issue instead of winning it all in one fell swoop.

You don’t always have the choice between winning and losing. Sometimes it’s a choice between losing and not losing so much. I’m not saying we’re in that situation now, but screaming “No!” louder is not a strategy. Unless you feel confident we can deliver every GOPe critter’s head on a silver platter in the 2018 primaries, saying “No!” would have meant losing, which leads to more losing.

There is no surprise that even some harder core GOP legislators were geared up and ready to pass a bump stock ban: there is almost no lawmakers out there who are ideologically committed to gun rights. They arrive at their position on this issue solely on the basis of which votes they think they’ll gain or lose come election time. Money is also a factor, and while we do spend money, Bloomberg is waiting with open arms to donate large sums to defectors.

That is why it is very important when you write your lawmakers to make them understand you vote on this issue, and that if they want to keep that vote, they better not just sign up for takeaways.

20 thoughts on “Fun Fact of the Day”

  1. I definitly remember that debate as it occurred when I was in a junior in high school I don’t remember what triggered it precisely but I recall 1) not thinking there was any way politically to stop it and 2) being outraged that the state was going to flush our civil rights down the toilet.

    Of course, at the same time, we had a governor (Jim Florio) who claimed toilet paper wasn’t an essential product and that he intended to tax it. And the GOP in the state was in absolute freefall and badly damaged by the abortion debate and some stupid political moves the year before which killed the campaign of the guy running for governor (don’t recall his name anymore).

      1. Yep. That’s the guy. I was a Young Republican and worked on his campaign for a bit. As I recall he flip flopped on his position on abortion 3 times in a single week. It was utterly incompetent.

  2. If they were “may issue” the way carry permits are, or even didn’t include the time limit that pistol purchase permits do, the distinction between a permit requirement and a ban may have been academic. May not – we’ll never know.

    1. I think the proposal probably was to make them like handguns. I believe there is actually a way you can possess assault firearms in New Jersey, with the never-issued machine gun permit.

      1. I’d have accepted having to use a PPP to get an “assault weapon.”

  3. I don’t recall there being much of a debate. A tube fed .22 rimfire is an “assault weapon” here in NJ. This place is bad and it’s going to get worse with the new gov. There are literally no gun laws that the Dems don’t like here. Christie has held them at bay for 8 years. All we have is the 2nd Amendment to keep them in check.

    1. This happened about the time I was arrest for unlawful possession of a firearm without a FOID. I had a crossman pellet gun and was hunting squirrels and chipmunks with it.

      I don’t recall there being much of a debate either. It was pretty much a done deal. Lots of people loaded up their guns and took them to Pennsylvania. Lots of people just kept quiet. Since every gun in the state is already registered, it was very easy for the state to go and capture those that weren’t removed from the state. I seem to remember that if you wanted to keep the gun, they would do something to the receiver – weld it shut or cut it – to prevent it from every operating again.

    2. You will be utterly screwed when Christie is out, and that’s going to suck. It was the original AWB that helped put New Jersey in this position.

      Permitting also did not help, because permitting reduces the number of gun owners too.

  4. This NY Times article seems to indicate that allowing existing guns to be further registered/permitted passed in 1991 but that Jim Florio veto’s it. I was off to college, living in Knoxville, by 1991 so I dont recall that.

  5. Sometimes you gotta negotiate.

    I was of age back then, but not living in New Jersey (first voted in 1980), but even though I enjoyed shooting guns I wasn’t a 2nd amendment advocate. I assumed it was a lost cause, didn’t seem like it mattered to me (before legal CCW there wasn’t a lot of value to owning guns) and I had other priorities. My views changed in about 1999 when CCW became a real thing in Colorado.

    But they should have negotiated. If AR’s were still easily purchasable the gun culture would be in a lot different shape there.

  6. I believe the first ban on so-called “assault weapons” was in California, passed by a Democratic legislature in May and signed by a Republican governor in June 1989.

    What’s notable is how partisan an issue that was even back in 1989, and even though the Governor supported it.

    “Despite the backing of the GOP governor for the Roos-Roberti legislation, all but two Assembly Republicans–Charles Quackenbush of Saratoga and William Filante of Greenbrae–either voted against the bill or did not vote at all Thursday.”

    The period between the bill passing in May and the Governor signing it in June, was my first experience with a nationwide gun buying panic. A lot of money changed hands and a lot of profit was made during that time.

    Since then, I think we’ve had six other panics.

    1. Thanks. Yes, I had forgotten about the Stockton school yard shooting. The federal response was to ban guns made in China as I recall. I suspect that’s what was behind New Jersey’s efforts to ban guns.

  7. That ban was unconstitutional and retro-active in ’89 and still is today. If a NJ or NY gun case ever got loose in the federal courts, they would get destroyed.

    There was some registration exemptions for “assault weapons”. A few guys got their M-1 Carbines registered, most didn’t.

    1. Don’t count on the Federal Courts for protection from anti-gun laws.

      SCOTUS striking down the D.C. and Chicago handgun bans was the exception rather than the rule. There has been tons of activity in the Federal Courts since 2008, and the courts have been almost universally hostile, while SCOTUS has refused to hear any appeals.

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