- Posted February 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
The Truth About Gun Control 2013
The best available version of the truth about gun control in the United States, particularly the rebranding of self-loading rifles as “assault weapons” has its roots in 1988. A fellow by the name of Josh Sugarmann, author of “The NRA is right; but we still need to ban handguns” in 1987, is now the executive director of the Violence Policy Center that has long sought to ban firearms and archery equipment.
There are of course, folks that just don't like guns at all, regardless of the Second Amendment, and prefer that Americans have as little independence and liberty as possible, relying on their master of government to feed them. So, we have had a faction of politicians and fringe activists in the United States trying to ban handguns for decades. But, after the GCA of 1968 and the huge new layer of Federal control, expansion of our sprawling bureaucracy, the American public got tired of the constant drone of griping about handguns.
The green-eyed gun grabbers still tried, though, with the invention of the “Saturday Night Special” and later, what became a failboat of trying to change the Glock pistol into an evil “plastic gun” that it never was. The invention of the menace is nothing new, for psychiatrist Fredric Wertham's claims that comic books led to things like diseased brains and homosexuality led to a Congressional hearing.
Through a loose translation of the German Storm Rifle of 1944, the Sturmgewehr 44, the menacing term of assault rifle was rediscovered. The name Sturmgewehr was chosen personally by Adolf Hitler for propaganda reasons. It was hyped-up and given new attributes of evil by Mr. Sugarmann and others. Trying new ways to convince the public based on nasty looks, confusion of operation, and so forth, the new evil of the assault rifle was created.
"Assault weapons—just like armor-piercing bullets, machine guns, and plastic firearms—are a new topic. The weapons' menacing looks, coupled with the public's confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons. In addition, few people can envision a practical use for these weapons." --Josh Sugarmann, Assault Weapons and Accessories in America, 1988
In 1988, the California Department of Justice screwed up and let a madman loose. That maniac was one Patrick Edward Purdy. On October 11, 1984, he was arrested for being an accomplice in an armed robbery at a service station, for which he spent 32 days in the Yolo County Jail. In 1986 his mother called police after he vandalized her car for refusing to give him money for narcotics. In April 1987, he and his half-brother Albert were arrested for firing a semi-automatic pistol at trees in the Eldorado National Forest. Later in prison he attempted suicide twice, once by hanging himself with a rope made out of strips of his shirt, and a second time by cutting his wrists with his fingernails. A subsequent psychiatric assessment found him to suffer from very mild mental retardation, and to be a danger to himself and others. Yet, the California Department of Justice let Purdy roam free and it culminated in the Cleveland School massacre in Stockton, California, where he managed to kill five kids, all of Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants. (See: Rifleman Slays Five At School; 29 Pupils, Teacher Shot in California; Assailant Kills Self, The Washington Post, Jan 18, 1989.) Aside from a Molotov cocktail, he used a Chinese Type 56 version of the AK-47, a rifle he purchased legally from a gun shop in Sandy, Oregon. That was the event Josh Sugarmann and others were waiting for.
California passed their assault weapons ban shortly thereafter. Not only that, but George H.W. Bush (still in 1989) signed an executive order banning some semi-automatic rifle importation. The ban on the import of semi-auto rifles called "assault rifles" became permanent and it is still in place today: http://www.nytimes.com/1989/07/08/us/import-ban-on-assault-rifles-becomes-permanent.html . The ban is under the umbrella of "sporting use," the notion dispelled by Heller / McDonald. The “Evil Assault Weapon of Doom” scare worked and few really cared.
The times were different, for the argument was made that the Second Amendment was a “Collective Right” and the courts didn't clarify it either way. The American Gun Industry didn't protest the ban on foreign rifles, in large measure because it just eliminated competition. Even worse, Bill Ruger infamously told Tom Brokaw that "No honest man needs more than 10 rounds in any gun." SAAMI put out a position paper supporting a 15 round magazine limit. The American Gun Industry was, according to some, fighting for its own survival. It continued even until the Heller Supreme Court case, decided in 2008. The NRA loudly opposed the Heller case proceeding, for they thought Dick Heller would lose. Fortunately, they couldn't have been more wrong.
The mass-market for the civilian AR-15 has been helped along greatly by the United States Government. Whether a rifle or a Twinkie, we always tend to want what we can't have. Sure enough, the “Public Safety and Recreational Firearms Use Protection Act” of 1994 was the decade long “Assault Weapons Ban.” The demonization strategy that Josh Sugarmann wrote of in 1988 worked, he got the ban that he wanted. Problem is, the ban was a failure and had no effect on crime either way. It would have easily been extended in 2004 if could have been shown to work; after all there was no personal right to a firearm in common use as decided by Heller four years later.
The flagrant disregard of the Second Amendment by the Federal Government was in full view for everyone to see. Despite the painfully clear operative phrase of the Second Amendment, “ . . . the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” Congress and the President spoke loud and clear that the Second Amendment was not nearly as well-regarded as the rest of the Bill of Rights, all of which limited Federal Government. Once Big Government demonstrates the ability to take something away, you don't have to be the brightest bulb on the tree to know they might do it again. Bill Clinton became a wonderfully effective gun salesman during his terms, but when the AWB expired in 2004, people could buy them fast enough. When Chicago Democrat and freshman Senator Barack Obama was first elected President, gun sales again spiked through the roof.
Not much happened during President Obama's first term, for the same reason the President mentioned to outgoing Russian President Dmitry Medvedev: "This is my last election ... After my election I have more flexibility," said the President while cameras were rolling in March, 2012. Just like Josh Sugarmann needed a crisis to float the original demon rifle idea he wrote of in 2008, President Obama needed a really good crisis to exploit his long-held anti-gun proclivities with. Sadly, he got it in Newtown, CT, in December, 2012. It was a tragedy great enough to set aside reason and logic and launch the long-held gun grabbing agenda. As Steve Sanetti of the NSSF, headquartered in Newtown, CT, recently mentioned: “In Connecticut there are exactly two homicides committed with a rifle of any kind in the last seven years. There were 40 deaths annually from knives, 320 deaths annually from clubs and 20 deaths annually from hands and feet.”
What is unbelievably bad and generally just unbelievable is that no one in Washington has proposed anything that would have prevented this tragedy. In fact, what has been proposed by the green-eyed agenda-driven folks like Dianne Feinstein has nothing to do with this event at all. Nothing discussed as legislation in Congress so far would, or could have done anything. Hitler's Sturmgewehr persists.