Could Ammunition Hoarding be Justified?

Images-3

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

Barack Obama has a past history of seeking strong gun control laws, which supersedes the present focus of attention being directed on the gun “problem” by the White House.

Consider the availability of ammunition. Harkening back to an Obama Colorado campaign speech in July of 2008, in a deviation from his prepared text Obama remarked: “We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives that we’ve set. We’ve got to have a civilian national security force that’s just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded.” This statement caused numerous writers to speculate that Obama was eluding to some kind of national Obama para-military force.

After Obama was elected in 2008, ammunition flew off the shelves which stayed bare for over a year.  It was not until the spring of 2010 that  9 mm or .40 S&W ammunition (the two most popular self-defense calibers) could be found in any quantity. Now, it is difficult to locate even the ubiquitous .22 LR “squirrel rifle and plinking” ammunition. Military calibers, such as AR style rifles (.223 Remington = 5.56x45mm) or M1 (.308 Winchester = 7.62x51mm) are not to be found anywhere. Even components used for reloading are in extreme short supply, especially primers and bullets (which can’t be reused).

Might the present ammunition shortage have to do with media reports that question why the feds are loading up on so much ammo?  A commentary by Andrew Malcolm posted on February 8, notes the puzzling, unexplained development of the Obama administration’s buying and storing of vast amounts of ammunition in recent months. According to one estimate,  the DHS has stockpiled more than 1.6 billion bullets, mainly .40 caliber and 9 mm.  This is sufficient firepower to shoot every American about five times, including illegal immigrants.  Several other agencies of the federal government, including the Social Security administration, likewise began buying large quantities of bullets in 2012.

In addition to the government’s large, unexplained purchases of ammunition, might the root cause of the ammunition shortages be attributed to hoarding? There are fears that the government will place restrictions on ammunition as a way to restrict firearms without running directly afoul of the Constitution (a minor impediment in any case to those on the Left).

When people see something on the shelf, they buy it all. Some stockpile it, others resell it on the internet or gun shows at exorbitant prices.  As happened back in 2008, the same is happening now, only on a much more intense scale. Within two weeks of the Sandy Hill tragedy, the big mail order houses, Brownells in Iowa and Midway in Missouri, sold all of their magazines (a normal two year supply) for semi-automatic rifles.  Surprisingly, most companies are not gouging their customers. This generates bitterness among enthusiasts, which is not soon forgotten. Word of gouging spreads quickly, leading to boycotts. Nor will the politicians who climbed on board with President Obama be forgotten. Many of them will be looking for work after the 2014 elections.

The reaction of the Left to Newtown was  predictable. Although Congress probably won’t impose the restrictions demanded by the Left, the President is actively campaigning in vulnerable states (i.e., Democratic majorities) for even stricter measures. Out East, demagogues like Cuomo have taken the initiative, thinking that strict gun control laws will place them on the path to the White House. On January 15  New York  was the first state to pass strict gun control laws since the New Town massacre.

We see similar action being attempted in Cook County, except that the rest of the state has swung to a polar opposite position.  Although Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in this nation (which aren’t enforced), Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, on a Feb 17 morning radio program in Chicago, denied that Chicago gun laws are strict. McCarthy further believes that gun rights groups are corrupt and that the 2nd Amendment “limits citizens to owning smooth-bore muskets.”

It is foolhardy to expect that more gun control will cure Chicago and dispel the image held world-wide that Chicago is the murder capital of America. James Walsh attributes the crime wave in Chicago to the “Welcome to Chicago Ordinance” signed by Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, which established the “Windy City” as a sanctuary city for illegal aliens.

The President says he supports the 2nd amendment, and “nobody is proposing to take your guns away,” but in the background intends to do exactly that.  Several congressmen and states have bills to confiscate firearms on the table, although they don’t seem to be going anywhere.It is unlikely that criminal use of firearms will be affected in any way, so legal owners will bear the brunt of ever stronger measures if they are allowed to proceed.

Background checks are at an all-time high, but have fallen off about 10% in January compared to December 2012. That’s because there’s hardly anything left to buy. The number of NICS checks is not a good indicator of sales, because you only need one check for any number of firearms at that time. Like ammunition, those with enough money are buying everything they can as soon as it is available.

A possible fly in the ointment impeding the Obama administration’s success in passing strict gun control laws that infringe upon the Second Amendment is that since New York State enacted its restrictive new gun laws, a group of Second Amendment-supporting gun makers are refusing to sell  arms to law enforcement in New York and other gun-restricting states. As of Saturday, February 23, 44 gun companies have stopped selling to law enforcement in anti-2nd Amendment States.

This movement is picking up steam as additions to the list are being added daily.   If SIG, Smith&Wesson and Glock get on board, the NYPD and the CPD will be making slingshots from the few trees left in their cities.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Monday, February 25.

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

In crafting her masterpiece 2013 bill to ban “assault weapons”, Senator Dianne Feinstein explained the failure of the 1994 version to the fact that manufacturers were able to circumvent the intent of that bill by making cosmetic changes to the weapons, including replacing pistol grips with “thumbhole” stocks.

The term “cosmetic” is unfortunately the core of Senator Feinstein’s bill, since the banned weapons are simply semi-automatic firearms which bear at least one “cosmetic” feature described in the bill.

Feinstein-assault

Let’s examine some of these features in detail.  “Semi-automatic” firearms can be easily converted into fully-automatic operation to be classified as “assault weapons” if:

  • the gun’s barrel is completely or partially enclosed in a shroud to allow the operator to hold the barrel without being burned,
  • it has a pistol grip, including a thumb-hole grip in the stock,
  • it has a folding, collapsible or adjustable stock,
  • it has a pistol grip on the forearm,
  • it has a flash suppressor, muzzle brake or threaded barrel,
  • it has a bayonet lug,
  • it has a grenade launcher (or rocket launcher??).

What is a true Assault Weapon:

The military classifies assault weapons as fully-automatic rifles or carbines (will fire continuously as long as the trigger is depressed), with short barrels (OAL about 36″), firing an intermediate power cartridge (between pistols and battle rifles or machine guns). They are used for close quarter combat (< 100 yards). The ammunition is smaller and lighter than traditional battle weapons so that the soldier can carry more rounds. Civilians can only own fully-automatic arms, under the 1934 National Firearms Act, which were manufactured before 1986, with permission of the Treasury Department, subject to an extensive background check. Assault weapons are the primary weapon issued to troops, since the nature of battle has evolved from trench warfare into close quarter skirmishes.

While it is illegal under Federal law to possess the parts necessary to convert a semi-automatic weapon to fully-automatic capability (also called “selective fire”), all semi-automatic weapons manufactured since 1986 are modified so that these parts cannot be simply “dropped in”.  Penalties for violating this law are severe, and rigorously enforced. Violations are extremely rare, and even inadvertent alterations or breakdowns resulting in multiple fire are prosecuted.

Following is an examination of six assault weapon characteristics that the government is seeking to misrepresent,  so that the American people are fooled into believing that everyday guns used for hunting, target practice and competitions are assault weapons that have no use except for mass killings.

1. Barrel Shroud
All rifles have some way to protect the shooter from being burned by the barrel, which becomes too hot to touch after 5 rounds or so. At a minimum, there is a long stock or forearm for support by the non-firing hand.  Shrouds over the barrel of a semi-automatic rifle are mainly used to cover the the gas tube (AR and AK) or reciprocating mechanism (M1 Garand and M14). Senator Feinstein and others think the shroud is there to grasp the hot barrel in safety, like Rambo in the movies, while firing from waist level. Movies are movies, and things done for dramatic effect are seldom derived from real life. In short, the barrel shroud is functional, but does not affect the way the rifle is held or operated.

2. Pistol Grip
Pistol grips are a common feature of military assault rifles, which tend to have a high, straight stock which does not lend itself to a conventional grip or posture. Since these weapons have very little recoil, it’s not necessary for the soldier to hold the stock to his cheek and shoulder, rather shoot from an heads-up position. That too is largely an accommodation to modern close-quarter battle.

AR style rifles, used by the US military, have a buffer tube which extends nearly a foot from the rear of the receiver, which dictates how the weapon is configured. The buffer tube contains the recoil spring, and cannot be removed. The shoulder stock slips over the buffer tube. Stocks with a pistol grip can be fitted to conventional weapons too, largely for appearance. People like to wear camouflage clothing too, but that doesn’t make them terrorists (or shouldn’t, despite liberal propaganda).

3. Folding or Collapsible Stock
A military rifle has to fit all soldiers reasonably well, both short and tall, winter and summer, with and without body armor. The minimum overall length under the 1934 law is 26″ (30″ in the Feinstein bill), which is not exactly concealable. A typical sporting rifle is adjustable over a 2″ range, from 34″ to 36″ overall, still outside even the Senator’s specifications. Civilians come in all sizes and shapes too, perhaps more diverse than young soldiers fit for battle. Folding stocks cannot reduce the overall length below 26″, a restriction which has existed since 1934.

4. Flash Suppressors
This is a scare word (much like “assault weapon”), for a device whose function is not widely known. The term “suppressor” is used by Senator Feinstein to create confusion with “silencers” used by mobsters. A flash suppressor is a 2″ cylinder that attaches to the end of the barrel with slots on the sides to divert some of the burning gases to the side rather than in the line of sight of the shooter. The flash is still there and easily seen (if you’re looking in that direction), so it’s not a sinister device to hide the location of the shooter.

A muzzle brake works in a similar fashion, but with round holes or narrow slots, so that gases escape with higher velocity and help reduce recoil and the tendency of the muzzle to rise. Muzzle brakes are used on many sporting weapons, and are not an exclusive feature of military firearms. The shotgun in a recent picture of the President “shooting skeet” has a muzzle brake drilled into the barrel itself. That’s why smoke seems to come out of the top of the barrel.

The flash suppressor or muzzle brake can be welded or pinned to the barrel, but is usually threaded so that it can be replaced or removed for cleaning. It is possible to attach a sound suppressor (aka “silencer”) to a threaded barrel, but these devices are strictly regulated under the 1934 NFA, and licensed in the same manner as civilian machine guns and short barreled rifles or shotguns. A majority of the states, including New Jersey and Massachusetts, allow civilians to possess NFA weapons and devices. Illinois is not among them. It should be noted that “silencers” don’t actually silence the report, but reduce it to about 100 decibels (the level of a jackhammer 30 feet away), not the “phht” you hear in movies. Sound suppressors are actually legal in most European countries, which otherwise have strict gun controls, to reduce objectionable noise levels from hunting and target shooting.

5. Bayonet Lug
Most military style weapons have a small T-shaped lug near the muzzle which is an attachment point for a bayonet. It doesn’t do much unless you actually attach a bayonet, and a bayonet doesn’t do much unless you are within an arms length of the enemy. A bayonet is nothing more than a knife. Although a lot of people are killed with knives, none outside the battlefield have been attached to rifles at the time. All soldiers train with bayonets, but their use in battle pretty much ended with Chamberlain defending Little Round Top at Gettysburg, 1863.

6. Grenade (Rocket) Launcher
Grenade launchers are nothing more than an empty tube until you load them with a grenade, and lethal grenades are not available for civilian use, even by police. Enthusiasts sometimes attach dummy launchers, or launchers made for Airsoft (compressed gas) rifles, for appearances. Real launchers can be used for tear gas or flash-bang effects by police, and in some states, by civilians. Rockets are never launched from a rifle attachment, and the launchers themselves are hollow tubes. You could launch a rocket from a piece of PVC pipe. In fact, some of the “rocket launchers” which show up at “gun turn-ins” appear to be plastic pipe painted olive green. Scary stuff.

All six of the above “assault” characteristics share the same point, that they are all simply cosmetic, adding nothing to the lethality or effectiveness of the weapon. The same Ruger Mini-14 is classed by Senator Feinstein’s bill as an assault weapon if it has a flash suppressor or a pistol-grip stock, but a “hunting” or “sporting” weapon if it does not. Keep in mind that both fire the same ammunition from the same magazines, and can be fitted into a new stock, without tools, in about a minute. That’s why the good Senator classifies even the empty stock as a scary assault “weapon”, banned under her bill. In a society that prosecutes school children for drawing pictures of guns, or pointing their fingers in play, or pretending to throw a grenade on a playground, the Senator seems to be in her element.

It is clear that Senator Feinstein and several of her colleagues (including President Obama) would like to ban all semi-automatic firearms, but are constrained because of Constitutional issues, including the Heller v DC and McDonald v Chicago decisions by the Supreme Court.

Feinstein is capitalizing on the grief over events in Colorado and Connecticut to blame scary-looking weapons which are “designed to kill a lot of people in a short period of time.” She does this, not because her bill will prevent or even mitigate similar tragedies in the future, but because she sees it as an easy first step to disarming America.

She is pandering to the ignorance and fears of a largely urban society, unfamiliar with guns of any sort, using loaded words like “assault,” “suppressor,” and “automatic (meaning semi-automatic),” to confuse the public. Feinstein is using the term “assault weapons” rather than the 1994 term, “assault rifles,” in order to sneak in regulations banning semi-automatic handguns as well as the more familiar AR-15 and AK-47 long guns. This is a particularly egregious infringement on the Second Amendment as clarified by the Supreme Court, since nearly all of the handguns used for sport and self defense fall in this category.

Countless reports speak about the desire to stem “Gun Violence”, which actually means “gun control” over law abiding citizens. Criminals, after all, don’t care which laws they break, and they’re much harder to catch.

It would be well for our president and legislators to heed these words of our fourth president, James Madison, before passing another round of gun legislation proposed once again by Senator Feinstein (D-CA).  Her legislation, although law of the land in1994, didn’t stem gun violence and was summarily rescinded in 2004.

“A government that does not trust its law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is itself unworthy of trust.” — James Madison 

Initially published at Illinois Review on Friday, February 8, 2o13.

More on the Weak Underbelly of Obama’s gun policies

Obama-romneyBy Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

Registration in any degree is particularly offensive to those who value their 2nd amendment rights. It is the basis for abuse and harassment of law abiding gun owners by those who would deny those rights, both official and unofficial. We have seen the damage caused when the Journal News in New York published the names and addresses of thousands of citizens with a license to own handguns. At least one Connecticut legislator wants the state to publish the names of gun owners. A similar attempt was made in Illinois in the Spring of 2011, abetted by Illinois AG Lisa Madigan but stopped short by a court order, then both houses of the Assembly. Historically, firearm registration was used in Australia to confiscate a broad range of weapons, after only 20% of their citizens complied voluntarily. It was used in 2008 by Great Britain, and by the Nazis in 1935.  Notably, none of these nations had a constitution which limits the actions of government, as in the United States.

Meanwhile the Administration continues to falsely claims that 40% of firearms are purchased without a background check (the true figure is closer to 6%). Where are the statistics about where CRIMINALS get their guns?  One chart based on surveys of convicted criminals, indicates that about 40% are obtained from relatives, about 40% are obtained “on the street”, about 11% by legal purchase from gun stores, and 1.6% from gun shows and flea markets. The balance are obtained from private sales. Note that the President’s proposal on background checks would exempt transactions between relatives.   (Source for truth about 40% background check claims: Illinois Review and Fox News)

The hypocrisy of celebrities and politicians regarding guns is notable. Dianne Feinstein carries a gun, as do most of the Hollywood folks. Others have Secret Service or armed private security agents. Mayor Rahm Emanual of Chicago has a cadre of armed police officers for protection around the clock.

In an affront to those who believe in the 2nd Amendment, a  bill introduced by Diane Feinstein (D-CA) in the Senate Judiciary Committee on January 24 — “assault weapons” banning bill —  has a preamble which describes her proposed law as “[regulating]  assault  weapons, [and ensuring] that the right to keep and bear arms is not unlimited.”   Approximately 150 weapons are banned, including “semiautomatic rifles” that “accept a detachable magazine and any of the following:  a pistol grip, a forward grip, a folding, telescoping, or detachable stock or a threaded barrel, among other things.

Yet even under Feinstein’s draconian bill, not everyone would have to abide by Senator Dianne Feinstein’s gun control bill should the proposed legislation become law.  Government officials are exempt. It is safe to say than any politician who claims to respect the 2nd amendment, interjecting the word “but” doesn’t respect it at all.

Where was the call by President Obama to demand that Hollywood stop producing violent moves? Movies seem to become more violent by the year as audiences increasingly accept greater and more sensational displays of blood and mayhem.  A 17-year-old boy who shot and killed his mother and sister in their Aledo,Texas home in October, 2012, admitted that watching the horror movie “Halloween” provided him the inspiration for the slayings. The four-page confession released by the teen during the trial reported how at ease the boy was during the murders and how little remorse he had.  The boy said he had watched the Rob Zombie remake of “Halloween,” about a 10-year-old boy who murders several people and kills more 15 years later, three times earlier that week, and believed it would be the same for him when he would kill someone. The confession was introduced as evidence.

In lieu of what is currently being pushed as a long-time “progressive” goal of disarming Americans, what would constitute a sensible approach?

A report issued by The Heritage Foundation on January 18, 2013, “The Newtown Tragedy: Complex Causes Require Thoughtful Analysis and Responses” by John G. Malcolm and Jennifer A. Marshall offers these three key points:

1.  Any federal action should be consistent with our federal system of government and the separation of powers.

2.  The Second Amendment remains an important safeguard of Americans’ security.  Gun control laws do not correlate with decreased violence.

3.  Decisions about school security, and assessing and addressing risks of school violence arising from mental illness, are the responsibility of state and local governments.

A quote from an article by David Harsanyi appeared in Human Events (a powerful conservative voice) in its weekly publication dated January 21, “Harsanyi: On Guns, An Abuse Of Power,” brings to the fore why using fear and a tragedy to further ideological goals is not a logical or constitutional path to embark on.

“Now, when the Supreme Court solidified the right to an abortion via Roe v. Wade (now a constitutional right, unlike owning a gun in Chicago) and solidified the individual mandate found in Obamacare (now a constitutional right, unlike, say, the right of Catholics to be free of economic  coercion), they became immovable legal precedents that may never be toyed with — ever.  Well, even if you believe in banning “assault” weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, doesn’t the Bill of Rights deserve at least that much deference?”

In summary, the real problems are being systematically ignored by politicians and suppressed from public view. Instead, legal gun ownership is under attack because it is politically easier to go after things (firearms) rather than the people who misuse them, particularly when the abusers come largely from your core constituency. It is easier to burden citizens who normally obey laws than those who habitually break them.

There are no easy solutions to the real problems, and politicians always take the easy way out.  When laws don’t work as intended, it is easier to make them stronger and more restrictive than to start afresh. We must always ask if it is ever worth sacrificing freedom for the vain hope of temporary safety (q.v., “stop and frisk”). Our freedoms were won at great price, and once gone, they are difficult to regain.

Part 1 posted at Illinois Review on Monday, January 28

The Weak Underbelly of Obama’s Gun Policies

Obama_profile

By Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

President Obama is deliberately ignoring solutions in favor of a long-time “progressive” goal of disarming Americans. Of course, he’s doing the same thing with regard to the economy.  Rather than promote business, he’s doling money out to the states and labor unions. Rather than cut spending, he wants to raise taxes, even though all the wealth of America wouldn’t match his out-of-control spending habits.

Blaming violence on a particular segment of society or region doesn’t lend itself to solutions. Not withstanding, there is a blizzard of propaganda against the NRA and its supporters in Congress which seem perfectly legitimate to anti-gun advocates. It is easier to blame an organization with an easily recognized set of initials than the millions of its members and tens of millions of supporters who write their representatives in Congress in support of their Constitutional rights.

The President made no mention of Chicago’s homicides in his campaign for “gun safety.”  Instead, he’s concentrating on penalizing millions of legitimate gun owners with the objective of “drying up the source of firearms used in crime.”  When serving in the Illinois Assembly Obama’s record was against prosecution of juvenile gun offenders as adults, even for offenses committed in or near schools.

A plausible explanation may be found in the demographics of violent crime in the United States. One has to be very careful sourcing this data, since it is racially charged, hence politically toxic. There are many fringe organizations which attempt to capitalize on this data, and others which are just as eager to play the race card in denouncing the facts. This data comes from the FBI, which maintains strict standards on the collection and reportage of crime data.

We can see at a glance that nearly 50% of violent crimes in 2011 (homicide, assault and robbery) in the nation were committed by black offenders. 54% of violent crimes were committed by offenders 18 years old or less. In terms of population. Blacks compose 12.6% of the US population, and 13.3% of the population is in the age group 10-19 (6.8% are 15-18, most likely to commit serious juvenile crimes). The situation is exacerbated in Chicago and other large cities because there is an unofficial ban on reporting crime by race. The data is nonetheless found in FBI statistics, if you care to look. According to one report, an average of 95% of violent crime in Chicago is committed by blacks and Hispanics, which compose about 66% of the urban population.

Despite similar demographics, New York City has been able to reduce violent crime to a fraction found in other metropolitan areas, largely through aggressive police work and a “stop and frisk” policy, and not though more gun control laws. There is likewise no obvious correlation between gun control and violent crime rates in other large metropolitan cities. New York City has had strict gun control since 1913 in the Sullivan Acts, as do Chicago, Boston, Newark and Los Angeles. Other metropolitan areas, including Miami, Philadelphia, Houston and St. Louis allow private citizens to carry weapons, with training and if they pass strict background checks, mainly because local law is preempted by the state. Now the “stop and frisk” policy is under attack by the ACLU and DOJ for its intrinsically racial implications. Approximately 84% of the stops are conducted in non-white neighborhoods and on non-white subjects. Mayor Bloomberg’s response is that the police concentrate on areas with the most crime.

Despite grim statistics where within selected demographics violent gun crime abounds, when the CDC conducted several studies in the early 90’s in an attempt to connect gun ownership with crime, they were discontinued and defunded because the results were uniformly negative. FBI statistics continue to show little correlation between gun ownership and crime.

These studies fail, in part, because they are looking for minute differences between large numbers. The facts become buried in noise.  If the CDC is authorized to conduct further studies, they should concentrate on where the problems exist. Even mental health data is “noisy,” because only a minute fraction of these patients ever commit violent crimes.

One pitfall to avoid is confusing correlation with causation. Most of the mass shooters have a history of psychotic behavior, largely untreated. The mental health treatment system of the US has been systematically dismantled over the last 30 years. Confinement for professional review has mostly occurred after the crime has been committed. Even recorded episodes do not find their way into the NICS databases.  The political right has it’s difficulties too, trying to correlate violent movies and games with violence on the streets. For the vast majority, these activities are an outlet, primarily for entertainment. At the same time, most of the mass killers are know to like to violent games, but that’s not enough to establish a causal relationship. Everybody with cancer has swallowed saliva at some time.

Despite statistics that prove otherwise, this Administration has displayed a great reluctance to enforcing existing law, preferring to pass new (ineffective) ones.  Already Attorney General Holder is beginning to implement Obama’s twenty-three Executive Orders on gun control proposed earlier in January, having taken the first steps on Friday, January 25.

As it now stands law enforcement is not able to perform a NICS check when transferring, returning, or selling firearms that have been seized or recovered. Presently NICS background checks serve as a followup to the affidavit signed under threat of perjury when purchasing a firearm (Form 4473). The proposal (Order 1) being brought forth by the Obama Justice Department gives local law-enforcement agencies access to the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) gun-sale database.  Furthermore, instead of removing stored records after ten years, records of denied weapons sales would now need to be preserved indefinitely. It is a short step to retain all records, establishing a de facto national gun registration system contrary to existing law.

The President has already issued an order to collect this data for sales of multiple “assault” rifles in the Southwest. He is not shy about bypassing Congress, established law and The Constitution in this regard.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Monday, January 28.   Permalink

 

 

Nancy Thorner and Ed Ingold –

During the past week or so high drama took place during the Lame Duck Session of the Illinois General Assembly, which culminated with its demise in the Illinois House when the Judiciary committee declined to vote on amendments to Senate Bill 2899, which would have turned the bill into a complete ban on semiautomatic firearms and magazines exceeding 10 round capacity.

But while Senate Bill 2899 has been pulled from consideration for the time being here in Illinois (the fight will begin again in the new 98th General Assembly), the push for tighter gun restrictions has advanced to the federal level. On the national level, Congress introduced bills on the first day of the new Congress, bills that are sure to set up a long and contentious fight over the shape of this nation’s gun laws. There is more to come.

It is thought that President is likely to introduce his plan on January 15 with guidance from Vice President Biden, who was chosen by Obama to lead the administration’s effort. For one senator, Dianne Feinstein (Calif. – D), gun control has been a consuming passion during her entire senate tenure, even though her assault weapons ban in place during the decade of the 90’s didn’t stop gun violence and killings. Biden has been holding meetings with various advocacy groups, for and against, as well as representatives from the entertainment and video games industry, and large sellers of firearms like Walmart, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Bass Pro Shops. Based on comments by the Vice President, these meetings are largely for show, since the Obama administration is determined to ban so-called assault weapons without addressing issues directly related to gun violence. Such bans affect millions of law-abiding citizens while having little effect on the criminals who perpetrate this violence.

Over 500 murders in Chicago during 2012, which has the strictest gun control laws in the nation, show gun bans don’t work. Most shootings are gang related, prompted by disputes over drug sales, or simply revenge for real or perceived “disrespect.” This is a sub theme in the movie “Grand Canyon,” where the protagonist is confronted by a group of thugs, when the leader says, “You only respect me because of the gun.”

According to the FBI annual crime statistics from 2005 to 2011, the number of murders committed annually with hammers and clubs far outnumbers the number of murders committed with a rifle. There has even been those who compare the fact that both knives and guns can kill and that knives should be banned next. Might they be asked if they’d rather defend themselves with a knife or with a gun!

While the media has conveniently focused with its undivided attention on the banning of assault weapons by capitalizing on the emotional impact the Newtown elementary school shootings have had upon the American people, slipping under the radar are gun-related issues that are part of Obama’s grand scheme for gun control, including the so-called “Gun Show Loophole.”

Face to face (FTF) sales of firearms, which constitute approximately 40% of gun sales, do not presently require and an NICS background check. That applies only to transactions though Federal Firearms License (FFL) holders, which would include retail stores. It’s a mistake to call these “illegal” sales, as does Mayor Bloomberg of NYC, because they are perfectly legal. In fact, most gun shows in Illinois and elsewhere employ a team of FFL holders (including most of the dealers at the shows) to conduct background checks and the federal paperwork known as Form 4473. Some may wink at the rules, but they’ll be tossed out if caught and banned from future shows. In fact, only about 2% of guns used in crimes were purchased at gun shows, representing a vanishingly small fraction of the millions of guns sold in this manner. The administration is seeking support for closing this so-called loophole from retailers, who stand to gain financially if this significant area of competition can be shut down.

The real reason the gun-grabbers want to close the “loophole” is because there’s no way background checks can be performed by private individuals, hence this requirement would make FTF sales illegal. The obvious solution, if one is actually needed, is to allow private individuals to call for an NICS check, for example, using a credit card. You can already get the 4473 forms on the Internet. The fact is, those complaining about the lack of background checks have no intention of instituting them. It’s more convenient to ask for the impossible.

Some question why people on the “Terror Watch List” are not kept from purchasing guns. This is not a valid criteria, because no one can say how someone gets on that list, much less how you would get off once so designated. The List is a secret process based on opinions, not subject to legal challenge. Using the “Terror Watch List” in this fashion would allow the Attorney General, among others, to arbitrarily deny firearms to individuals without recourse.That’s why it should not be a disqualifier. Felony convictions, felony indictments, dishonorable discharges and other current disqualifiers are matters of public record. So are adjudicated commitments for mental illness, but political correctness often seals those records (e.g., Loughner in Tucson, James Holms in Aurora and Seung-Hi Cho at Virginia Tech), and makes it difficult to achieve such a commitment in the first place (e.g., Adam Lanza in Newtown, CT).

There are other example of gun control through requirements which can never be met. For years, following passage of the National Firearms Act in 1934, it was necessary to buy a $200 tax stamp to purchase or possess a machine gun, but no stamps were printed until the 1980’s.

Retired police officers are allowed, by Federal law, to carry concealed weapons for their own protection, if they pass the necessary qualification tests. Chicago refuses to give these tests, so retired officers have to move out of the city to qualify. When’s the last time you heard about biometric gun locks that would only work for the owner. Several companies made that technology available in the late 70’s. Once that happened, nobody cared any more.

A common statement by politicians these day is that we have to do something, anything, (whether it works or not) to halt the rash of massacres like in Aurora, CO and Newtown, CT. In fact, these incidents have been reported since the early 1800’s, but only since the advent of 24/7 cable news has each incident deluged the airwaves for weeks on end. There were twice as many (49) such incidents in the decade 1990-2000 as from 2000-2010 (26), and the 90’s were down from the previous decade, which saw 63 mass murders.

None of these incidents would have been prevented or even mitigated by any of the gun control measures being proposed. In fact, Columbine happened in the middle of the 1994 AWB ban, and didn’t involve “assault weapons” of any sort. None of Chicago’s 506 homicides in 2012 involved an “assault rifle”, nor a single legally purchased or carried firearm.

So we see that an underlying strategy of the Obama administration is to “ask for the impossible” in a very literal sense.

Rather than firearms, we should keep typewriters, microphones and TV cameras out of the hands of the most dangerous people in our society. At least that’s building on what Samuel Clemens suggested while writing as Mark Twain.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Sunday, January 13, 2013.

By Edward Ingold – I have collaborated with Edward Ingold on several article in the past. This is a solo article by Ingold that merited posting. Ed Ingold is a chemical engineer by profession, a gun enthusiast, a conservative Republican, and a fellow musician who plays oboe and English Horn.

The automobile and aerospace industries use so-called 3-D printers to make prototypes of complex parts. In simple terms, the “printer” is a pot of liquid polymer which uses two converging beams from a laser to harden the plastic where the beams intersect. The polymer is transparent to the laser, but enough heat is generated where the beams cross to trigger the chemical bonding process. The solid part is made from the bottom up, much like an inkjet printer applies dots of ink to make a photograph. The plastic is similar to that used for plexiglass windows.

Some intrepid experimenters used the “printer” to make parts patterned after an the receiver of an AR-15 rifle, which were then assembled and used to fire several rounds before falling apart. The news media picked up on this immediately, and raised an alarm that plastic guns made in this fashion would be undetectable by security magnetometers used in airports and government buildings, without background checks and waiting periods. If that were not scary enough, it was the same type of rifle used by the shooters in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut.

You can file story this along with cold fusion, perpetual motion machines and winning strategies for Tic-Tac-Toe. There is no plastic capable of withstanding the pressure generated by even low power ammunition, much less the 60,000 pounds per square inch or more generated by an AR-15 round. The key working parts, such as the barrel and bolt, must be made from steel, which is easily
detectible.

There are many firearms which have non-critical parts, like the grip and trigger, made from plastic. A notable example is the Glock pistol, used by more police and civilians than any other single brand. This was described as “undetectable” when it first appeared, by such excitable people as The New York Times and Mayor Daley of Chicago. A Glock pistol, of course, has over a pound of steel in the barrel, slide and working parts, which is easily detected. Enormous pressure was brought to bear against the distribution of Glock pistols in the United States, much of which was fomented by domestic manufacturers whose products would be overshadowed by the inexpensive and extremely reliable Austrian imports. Needless to say, the sky didn’t fall, and all domestic firearm manufacturers followed suit.

Media people are so gullible when it comes to technology, as are politicians eager to step up in order to protect humanity from evil scientists, with all the publicity that would generate.

Published initially at Illinois Review on Wednesday, December 27.