Received this while I was in Tennessee:
Sent: Sat, Jan 29, 2011
Subject: My initial take on the ATF shotgun study
First, the ATF report was written by attorneys, as the footnotes indicate---and does the focus on legalistics, with only a brief nod to cultural issues. Except what screams out is: "We, the Government, are becoming increasingly alarmed and excited at the quality and firepower of guns that have developed within the past decade or so, which are in civilian hands, because only the Police should have those kinds of weapons." That's the theme, and the demonization proceeds from there, as I'll describe in part below.
The ATF shotgun study---apart from the importability and "sporting use" criteria it already appears to have established, and is only on the verge of being implemented after a window dressing "comment" period that expires May 1, 2011---appears to seek to disestablish, discourage or eliminate certain connections between military technology and its application to civilian use, as well as to firearms. Consider the example of the laser sight. "No sporting purpose?" Well, a laser sight makes aiming at critters (rabbits, ground hogs, raccoons, snakes, you name it) a lot easier, efficient, and practical than using iron sights or perhaps even a scope in some instances. Consider also the notion that a firearm which is "a semiautomatic version of a machinegun" (page 9 of the ATF study) is inherently bad. What does that mean? In my judgment, it means demonizing such guns, even though their ballistic features do not differ from other guns---but it sure does imply that folks who are interested in such guns are bad citizens. It sure does look like such demonization will economically harm the manufacturers who produce such guns, because of the demand for them --- people who cannot, for economic reasons, and the fact there are only about 190,000 available for transfer to civilians -- own machine guns, who want to experience the heft and feel and image of owning one, are now transformed into implied threats. Sounds like a great way to revive the economy.
Similarly, under the criteria of "the ability to accept a detachable magazine," consider what may be the most common and popular semiautomatic rifle in the United States --- the Ruger 10/22. I guess that rifle would be unimportable (in D.C., it is actually classified as a "machine gun" owing to the passage of legally incorrect legislation in 1930. It is now 2011 and that law is still on the books, even though the Ruger 10/22 is NOT a machine gun). This is what happens when flawed laws get passed.
Second, the ATF report gives short shrift given to social and cultural conditions in the firearm sports world. Note that the United States Practical Shooting Association (USPSA), the one group that may interfere with ATF's immediate objectives in banning the importation of certain shotguns is disregarded --- even though the activities (3-gun competitions) necessarily use shotguns! Specifically: "Because a determination on the sporting purpose of practical shooting events should be made only after an in-depth study of those events, the working group determined that it was not appropriate to use this shotgun study to make a definitive conclusion as to whether practical shooting events are 'sporting' for purposes of section 925(d)(3)." (see page 13 of the ATF study). Because USPSA concerns are inconvenient, ATF refuses to consider them "in this study," which is going to be the basis for banning the importation of a bunch of shotguns.
Third, it is difficult to conclude that whatever restrictions ATF imposes on the importation of shotguns in the United States, will NOT soon have bad effects upon manufacturers of certain shotguns in the United States, as well as folks who gussy up their shotguns on an aftermarket basis. Again, consider the size of the industry and the potential economic impacts --- again, great way to revive the economy (that was sarcasm). It would make too long a message to go through each of the "bad" features that ATF is demonizing, and I'm sure each of you have picked up on others in addition to the ones that I described briefly above.
Fourth, I think this is a deliberate effort at social engineering by the Government, with respect to limiting or banning firearms civilians are allowed to own, that is only just starting. It is nothing less than an assault on an aspect of our culture, which includes military traditions and interests. There's nobody with even a pea for a brain who believes that the sale of surplus and reproduction military gear in Shotgun News or the innumerable gun shows reflects anything but some combination of (1) wanting reliable tools, ammunition, clothes, boots, firearms, knives, tents, parachute cord, etc. for legitimate use in camping and hunting activities, (2) enjoying the historical nostalgia and, perhaps, military service, that is occasioned by owing such items, and (3) having those interests form the basis for other associations with collectors, hunters, campers --- sheesh.
Finally, I see a huge rural/urban issue here, which might be usefully informed by education. Millions of kids who have grown up in urban areas have had virtually no exposure to the outdoors and sport and hunting and camping worlds, and hence can't imagine that context for the use of firearms. To a fellow sitting on his owned 5 or 10 or 50 or 80 or 160 or more acres of land, who wants to go out into the woods he owns and shoot or hunt or target practice, the people who clamor that he should be prohibited from owning a laser sight, or semiautomatic copy of a machinegun, and by implication is a terrorist if he owns a ghillie suit (much less a silencer for his firearms because he doesn't wish to disturb his neighbors), those clamoring people are nothing short of crazy themselves. What on Earth is wrong with owing and using a high-capacity magazine for legal and legitimate purposes on one's own land? This is a bad combination that is guaranteed to produce explosive confrontations, every bit as and probably much more than we have seen so far.
I think you're going to see the White House publish some trace data in the next week or two, and use that as a starting point for a broad use of Executive Branch power to try and force agencies to more strictly regulate and prohibit certain guns, because the Congress is unwilling to do so. Obama has to do this to appeal to his extreme left-wing liberal constituency, which sees him as a failure in this area, and if he doesn't they won't renominate him in 2012. This is going to get mighty ugly. It is also one of the STUPIDEST things I think Obama could do --- people are really angry that the Government allowed a bunch of thieving bankers to walk away unscathed; to keep what amounts to fraudulently obtained/stolen money; and bailed the thieving bankers out --- while letting THEM economically dissipate, losing houses, savings, 401(k)'s, and their jobs. Obama STILL doesn't get the jobs thing. When he starts messing around trying to make gun control a central issue at a time of serious economic hardship, the implication that the Government is going after private ownership of guns, is going to provoke a lot of hostilities, but that's just my view.
I apologize for the length of this message --- it could easily have been much longer. I hope it causes you all to think hard about these issues, and that it may contribute to some discussions and ways to constructive address what surely are going to be some preposterous activities by ATF and the White House.
One strong ray of hope --- the Heller decision. Maybe the decision that a person has a constitutional right to own a handgun in one's home for purposes of self-defense, will point the way towards eliminating the "sporting purpose" requirement, which is what needs to happen to call off the ATF jackals. In the meantime, I trust the "comment period" will also accomplishe an Obama purpose --- to stick the licked ATF finger in the wind to see which way it blows or not, which is undoubtedly better than ATF's traditional practice of "announcing" or "making available" a Ruling without bothering to consult firearms industry and other folks who will unquestionably be affected by the planned demonizing of guns and accessories.