Apr 17, 2014 fbook icon twitter icon rss icon

Assault Weapons Ban

11Missouri Gunmaker Redesigns AR-15, AR-10 To Comply With NY Ban

A Missouri gunmaker has released two new guns, essentially AR-15 and AR-10 rifles, that are redesigned to comply with New York’s SAFE Act, which banned assault rifles in the state.

Black Rain Ordnance introduced guns with a non-threaded muzzle, a low-capacity 10-round magazine, and no pistol grip. They have a collapsing stock, which folds to make the gun more compact and concealable, the New York Daily News reported.

“With the continual trampling of the Second Amendment in New York, Black Rain Ordnance is proud to announce their ‘New York Compliant’ rifles,” the company said on its website. "These rifles feature all of the quality and craftsmanship of the standard BRO-lines, but with the added features that allow for legal possession."

Founder and CEO Justin Harvel said Black Rain attended a gun exhibition in Pennsylvania, where New Yorkers lamented the fact that they cannot buy any more AR-15s. Harvel says they designed to solve this problem.

Gun shop owners have also been modifying assault style guns to comply with the law. A simple change to the grip on many guns is enough to make them legal.

A New York based gun manufacturer Just Right Carbines is also producing SAFE Act compliant rifles.

"Everybody is doing basically the same thing, which is basically adopting a stock that was originally produced for the California market and basically adopting that stock for the New York market," general manager Anthony Testa told Gannett's Albany Bureau.

“As far as I’m concerned, until you tell me and you can show me how it’s illegal, we’re using it,” he said.

New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the SAFE Act into law in 2013 in response to the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn. Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza killed 26 people with an AR-15 in December 2012.

Sources: New York Daily News, Fox News

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11Simple Modification Lets Gunmakers Sidestep NY Assault Weapons Ban

One of the strictest gun control laws in the country is easily sidestepped by a simple modification to the firearm’s grip.

In the wake of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., the state of New York passed the Safe Act, which effectively banned high capacity assault weapons like the AR-15-style gun Adam Lanza used to kill 20 children in December 2012.

The law requires universal background checks, bans high-capacity magazines, and requires anyone who already owns an “assault weapon” to register it with the state by April 15, 2014.

The Safe Act defines “assault weapon” as mean a semi-automatic gun with a detachable magazine and one of 10 features, like a "bayonet mount," "grenade launcher," or a "protruding pistol grip.”

New York gun shops have found that replacing the grip on some banned guns makes them otherwise compliant with the new law.

The gun still has the same power and capacity and fires at the same rate but has a different grip.

Rochester gun manufacturer Just Right Carbines has also modified the way it makes semi-automatic rifles to be in compliance with the Safe Act.

Gun sellers say the new, modified guns are quite popular.

“Believe it or not, if I had a hundred things to sell, they’d already be gone,” shop owner Justin Reickhart told RT. “I’m hoping to have them in my shop in the next two-weeks. We’ve already showed it to about a dozen people, just a picture of what it’s going to be, and the younger generation – they already love it. They’re like, it’s the same gun, just with a sci-fi-looking stock.”

“The suggested retail price is going to be $1,050,” he said. “Prior to the ban, you would have been able to buy the gun for $949.”

Sources: RT, The Guardian

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11Gun Purchases Surge in Maryland Before Assault Weapons Ban in October

Gun owners in Maryland are buying up firearms as quickly as they can before the state's new gun control law takes effect on Oct. 1.

“It’s nothing like we’ve ever seen before in the history of the Maryland State Police,” the law enforcement's spokesman Greg Shipley told CBS Washington D.C.

Shipley predicted that about 1,000 gun applications are coming in per day.

The new gun law will prohibit 45 kinds of assault weapons, restrict gun magazines to 10 bullets each and ban gun ownership for mentally ill people who have been involuntarily committed.

The new law also requires handgun buyers to get a state background check, including fingerprinting, in order to get a gun license.

As of last Friday, police are have processed more than half of 100,000 purchase applications. The reason for the rush is that citizens who submit purchase applications before Oct. 1 will not have to get a handgun qualification license.

As always, the hysteria around new gun laws benefits gun stores.

“I might sell one or two [AR-15 assault rifles] a month, and last month I probably sold 100,” said Frank Loane Sr., owner of Pasadena Pawn and Gun in Pasadena, Md.

Source: CBS Washington D.C.

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11Convicted Killer Joshua Cooke Speaks Out Against Assault Weapons

A Virginia man who shot and killed his adopted parents when he was 19 is now calling for assault weapons to be banned. Joshua Cooke said that he felt “like a zombie” on the night of the murders. He is currently serving a 40-year prison sentence.

“If I had an assault weapon, things would have been much worse,” Cooke said during an interview with “Piers Morgan Live.”

“I thank God I didn't have an AR-15 or some other type of assault weapon because the way I was back then mentally, I would have gone to the mall that night or to one of my old high schools the next morning and killed as many people as I possibly could,” he said.

Prior to the shooting, Cooke was playing violent video games in his bedroom. He then picked up a shotgun he had purchased a few days before and decided: “That was it, there was nothing left in my life.” He walked downstairs and shot his mother in the chest before turning the gun on his father, Fox News reported.

“I had no emotion at all. I was basically like a zombie. I went down the steps and I shot my mother. I was numb. There had been so many years of hurt from mother's abuse and bullying, rejection from girls, all types of things like that, I just - I didn't care about anything anymore.”

His mother asked: “What are you doing Joshua? Why did you do this?”

Cooke said: “I loaded the gun, I pointed it at her face and I shot her in the face. I walked down the steps, I stepped over her body and I shot my father in the head one more time.”

He is now urging other people who are having dark thoughts to seek help before hurting anyone. “I've been where you are ... you don't know the pain you'll cause,” he said.

Sources: Fox News, The Collegiate Times

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11Illinois Towns Refuse to Ban Assault Weapons

Despite an impending deadline and encouragement from Democrat Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon, 14 towns in Illinois are refusing to ban assault-style weapons.

The bill to approve concealed-carry in Illinois will make all local ordinances regulating guns invalid. Now communities have until July 9 to put a local law on the books banning assault-style weapons in their area, if they don't have one already.

After the July 9 deadline, Illinois will become the last state in the country to allow concealed-carry permits for firearms.

So far only four towns have chosen to restrict semi-automatic guns – 14 communities rejected or decided not to pass assault weapons bans. There are 10 other towns who have yet to vote on the matter.

"I just don't see the place for it. I'm not against people having guns, not at all," said Melrose Park Mayor Ron Serpico, whose village board already unanimously voted to ban assault weapons. "The thing I can't get my arms around, I know when the Constitution was passed, I don't think they could envision these types of guns."

Mike Weisman, officer of The Illinois State Rifle Association, said the regulation of assault weapons is useless because semi-automatic rifles are not often used in murders.

"They don’t need local control over these firearms," Weisman said. "There are no problems, so they’re creating a tough, painful solution to a non-existent problem."

Gov. Pat Quinn put an amendatory veto on the conceal-carry bill Tuesday, but lawmakers adopted the legislation by margins large enough to invalidate that veto. Quinn called the legislation “flawed.”

“The bill provides no cap on the number of guns, or on the size or number of ammunition clips that may be carried,” Quinn wrote on his web site. “Instead, it allows individuals to legally carry multiple guns with unlimited rounds of ammunition, which is a public safety hazard.”

Sources: Fox News, KAAL-TV

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11New York Film Industry Wants Exemption From The State's New Gun Laws

Out of all the groups you’d expect to criticize gun control measures, who would have thought Hollywood would be one of them?

Directors and executives from the entertainment industry are speaking out against New York’s recent ban on assault weapon and 10-round magazine clips, saying the restrictions will make it difficult to purchase the weapons for shows and movies in the state.

The restrictions have many in the film industry calling for a “Hollywood exemption,” which would require a revote to allow the purchase and use of banned weapons for cinematic purposes. But New York lawmakers are hesitant to do a revote on the bill to add this exemption. They have faced such high levels of scrutiny and criticism from conservative voters in the state that the last thing they want to do is draw more attention to the ban.

An exemption was likely left out of the original bill because it was written and voted on so quickly. Pro-gun control legislators proposed the bill earlier in the year when public outrage in the country was high wake of the Newtown shootings. The Senate approved the measure on their first day in session. Many lawmakers, along with almost the entire general public, did not have an opportunity to read or debate the bill before it was voted on and passed.

Hasty passing aside, entertainment executives say the bill needs revision or else the filming industry will be forced to relocate to other states. That is the last thing New Yorkers want, as the industry accounted for 46,000 jobs and millions of dollars in revenue in 2011.

“You’d hate to lose a $100 million picture because there was a scene in it that required automatic weapons and we were unable to accommodate them,” said John Ford, the president of Local 52 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

“If there’s not a little wiggle room in there for us, then they’ll make the movies somewhere else. It’ll just cost us jobs,” Ford added.

Although the NYPD already grants permits for the use of banned firearms in theatrical production, the rest of the state’s local law enforcement lacks in this department. That could make using firearms in filming locations outside of NYPD’s jurisdiction a difficult and time-consuming process.

Ryder Washburn, vice president of the Specialists, a company specializing in firearm sales for dramatic productions, warned that New York’s film industry will not hesitate to leave if exemptions aren’t made.

“Our generators are on wheels, our carts are on wheels, our trucks are on wheels,” he said. “Everything is on wheels, and it goes where it’s wanted.”

Source: NY Times

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11PTR Industries To Leave Connecticut After Passage Of New Gun Laws

Six days after Connecticut passed new gun control legislation, a gun-maker based in the state has announced it is leaving. PTR industries made the proclamation in a statement that was posted to its website on Wednesday. The company employs more than 40 people and mainly focuses on manufacturing military-style rifles, Fox News reports.

Mark Malkowski, the president of Stag Arms in New Britain, said that other gun manufacturers are intent on lobbying the state's congressional delegation next week "to make sure they hear from our side."

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed the new gun legislation into law on April 4. A spokesman for Malloy, Andrew Doba, claims the governor wants to aid in job creation but that new gun restrictions were needed. "On this particular issue he's been clear: We need to prioritize public safety and this bill will improve public safety," he said.

The new law creates the U.S.’s first dangerous weapon offender registry and bans more than 100 firearms.

The statement that PTR pasted on its website begins:

“This past week an historic and highly controversial bill was passed by the State of Connecticut which will have far reaching consequences to the state, its citizens, and businesses. The bill we refer to is Bill No. 1160, AN ACT CONCERNING GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION AND CHILDRENS SAFETY. This bill purports to reduce gun violence by banning hardware responsible for less than 3% of homicides in 2011 ; and claims to increase children’s safety by restricting the ability of those most responsible for it – their parents – to defend them.”

It continues:

“As a firearms manufacturing firm, our industrial roots reach deep in the State of CT. Along with other companies in the trade, we were deeply apprehensive at the hurried process to develop new gun laws and fearful that it would generate unintended consequences for our industry. On Thursday April 4th 2013, upon reading the full text of Bill 1160, our worst fears were confirmed. What emerged was a bill fraught with ambiguous definitions, insufficient considerations for the trade, conflicting mandates, and disastrous consequences for the fundamental rights of the people of CT.”

PTR says it has invited its employees to move with the company.

Sources: Fox News, New York Daily News

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11New Legislation For Background Checks, Assault Weapons Looking Unlikely

After the Newtown shootings in December, President Barack Obama called on Congress to enhance gun control laws. Three months later, a significant increase in legislation is beginning to seem less likely.

For starters, the proposed ban on assault weapons has been dead for some time. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid spoke highly of Senator Dianne Feinstein for her work on a bill that would have banned the sale of military guns and high-ammunition magazine clips, but acknowledged that the bill was dropped due to lack of support.

“Using the most optimistic numbers, [it] has less than 40 votes,” Reid said. Reid’s admission indicates that even many Senate Democrats would not have voted for the bill.

In light of the failed attempt to legislate an assault weapons ban, Reid is focused on getting passable legislation to the Senate floor.

“We cannot have votes on everything unless I get something on the floor. It’s a legislative impossibility,” Reid said. “I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed; I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there.”

Reid is counting on Senate Republicans to reengage in talks regarding increased background check legislation. A Senate Committee approved a bill last week for increased background check requirements, but the bill was approved in a 10-8 party lines vote. Republicans did not approve of the bill at the time, and they don’t appear to be budging.

Senators Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), Kelly Ayotte (R-New Hampshire), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and John McCain (R-Arizona) all failed to give definitive answers on Tuesday when asked whether they would support legislation for increased background check requirements.

Specifically, the proposed increase in background check requirements would require unlicensed dealers to perform checks on gun purchasers. The legislation would call for the storage of background checks as well. This storage of background checks is the main issue preventing Senate Republicans from voting for the bill. Many gun owners are worried that stored background checks would lead to a national registry of gun owners, which is prohibited by federal law.

Instead of creating a potential registry of gun owners, Senator Lindsey Graham proposed the creation of a registry of citizens not allowed to purchase guns.

“I believe that the best way to interrupt the shooter is to have a mental health system that actually records and enters into the database people who should not be able to buy a gun,” Graham said.

Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) is working to encourage bipartisan talks between Democrats and Republicans. He spoke in support of the background check legislation on Tuesday.

Manchin said the background check legislation “makes all the sense in the world.” He added that the legislation would help “to keep the guns out of the hands of the people that shouldn’t have them.”

Manchin also supports the creation of a federal commission to investigate the causes of mass shootings like the one in Connecticut.

“It takes a culture for someone to use that gun in such a horrific way, and we’ve got to find out what’s happening,” he said. “We need to give people the expertise.”

Manchin added that he has “…got to make sure that I can protect the law-abiding gun owners who use it for the purpose of sporting or defense.”

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to have legislation ready for a vote “as soon after Easter” as possible.

(Talking Points Memo, Bloomberg, Politico)

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How Can You Ban Assault Weapons if You Don't Know What an Assault Weapon Is?

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was not happy with the gun control hearing that the Senate Judiciary Committee held on January 30, where two witnesses spoke in favor of her proposed "assault weapon" ban and three spoke against it. So she arranged another hearing before the same committee, which was held yesterday. It featured five witnesses who support her bill and three who oppose it, so Feinstein is now ahead by one witness. But critics of her legislation made up for their numerical disadvantage with substance. When you read the testimony of the two sides, the clearest difference is that opponents of the Feinstein bill, S. 150, know what they are talking about, while its supporters don't. 

The most sophisticated pro-ban testimony yesterday came from John Walsh, the U.S. attorney for Colorado, who concedes that the 1994 ban on "assault weapons," which was also sponsored by Feinstein and expired in 2004, "resulted in certain manufacturers producing and selling firearms of equivalent functionality and lethality." That was possible because the law's definition of "assault weapon" hinged on functionally insignificant features such as barrel shrouds and bayonet mounts.

Walsh claims "current proposals under consideration substantially address the gaps in the 1994 statute," but he does not explain how. The new, supposedly improved "assault weapon" ban features a longer list of firearms that are banned by name; an appendix, comprising most of the bill, listing 2,258 models that are explicitly not banned; and a somewhat different list of forbidden features that still have very little to do with a gun's usefulness to mass murderers or other criminals. Walsh says "the key features of these weapons are the ability to fire at high velocities and to accept high-capacity magazines." Yet Feinstein's bill says nothing about muzzle velocity and exempts many guns that accept high-capacity magazines.

Even more egregiously misleading was the testimony of William Begg, a Connecticut emergency room physician who emphasized the difference between .22-caliber handgun rounds and .223-caliber rifle rounds like those used in the Sandy Hook massacre. Above is a picture Begg included in his testimony, which according to The New York Times also featured "a video of two bullets being fired into beige, gelatinous material resembling flesh." As the Times describes it, "One was from a handgun, the other from an AR-15, a popular style of assault rifle. The footage revealed far more tearing and damage from the AR-15."

At the risk of stating the obvious, it should be noted that .22-caliber weapons can be used to kill innocent people; a Walther P22 was one of the two guns (along with a Glock 19) used to kill 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007, which was the second biggest massacre at a school in U.S. history. (The biggest one invoved explosives.) Still, Begg is right that, other things being equal, a larger projectile does more damage. But Feinstein's definition of "assault weapon" has nothing to do with caliber. It is simply wrong to suggest that the guns she wants to ban are distinguished from the guns she exempts based on the kind of ammunition they fire.

For example, as Second Amendment scholar David Hardy notes in his testimony, S. 150 specifically exempts the Ruger Mini-14, which fires the same .223-caliber ammunition as the Bushmaster M4 carbine used by Adam Lanza in Newtown. (Hardy observes that "the main difference" between the Mini-14 and the AR-15-type guns Feinstein wants to ban "is that the Mini-14 has a conventional wooden stock and looks 'traditional.'") "The ammunition used in the typical 'assault weapon' exhibits intermediate ballistics," notes Fordham University law professor Nicholas Johnson, who testified before Hardy. "On this objective measure the class is less destructive than most rifles used for hunting medium to large game."

Johnson also emphasizes the destructive power of "the common repeating shotgun, either pump or semiautomatic," which Feinstein likes so much that she lists hundreds of models that are not covered by her bill:

In 12 gauge configuration, with a three inch, 00 buckshot load, any of these guns will fire fifteen, .33 caliber, 60 grain projectiles with a single pull of the trigger. With aminimum magazine capacity of five rounds and one chambered, that is ninety, . 33 caliber projectiles fired with 6 trigger pulls....

Additionally, this broad category of repeating shotguns can be continuously reloaded without disabling the gun. That is an attribute that the prohibited class does not exhibit.

Johnson adds that while "assault weapons" are inaccurately described as "spraying" bullets, "the shotgun actually does fire a cloud of projectiles that spreads as it moves downrange." He also quotes a 1997 U.S. Army assessment that found "the probability of hitting a man sized target with a shotgun was superior to that of all other weapons" up to a range of 30 yards. So why are shotguns deemed legitimate, while firearms that are in some ways less dangerous (and are used less often in crimes) are considered an intolerable threat to public safety? Notably, Dr. Begg did not show what an ordinary shotgun does to gelatinous material.

Hardy and Johnson both show that, contrary to John Walsh's assurances, the distinctions drawn by Feinstein's bill remain nonsensical. "'Semiautomatic assault rifle' is internally contradictory and thus meaningless," Hardy writes, since a true assault rifle can fire automatically. "Drafters of legislation are thus forced to define what they would restrict in ways that are arbitrary and irrational." Feinstein's bill is so arbitrary and irrational, Johnson argues, that it would fail even the most permissive level of judicial scrutiny. He calls the legislation "simply incoherent," saying "the classifications created by the bill do not pass even a rudimentary rational basis review." And since the Supreme Court has identified the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right protected by the Second and 14th Amendments, laws that impinge upon it should receive more scrutiny than that.

In December I asked, "How Stupid Must a Gun Law Be to Get Struck Down by the Courts?" Last month I noted that people who want to ban "assault weapons" typically don't know what they are. In The Orange County Register this week, I highlighted some of the puzzling choices Feinstein made in writing her bill.


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Senators Involved in Assault Weapons Ban Hearing Have Gotten Lots of Money from Pro-Gun Groups

The subject of the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearing today -- a proposed assault weapons ban -- is controversial enough. But casting another shadow on the conversation is the fact that members of the panel, who may vote on the proposal as early as Thursday, have received far more in campaign contributions from gun rights groups and individuals who are committed to the issue than they have from the other side.

Since 2000, committee members have collected over $350,000 from gun rights groups and individuals, but just $17,000 from pro-gun control interests.

The two senators from the Lone Star State are the biggest recipients: John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both Republicans. They've each collected at least $70,000 from gun rights sources, though Cornyn has been in office for 10 years, and Cruz is a freshman senator. The biggest recipient of pro-gun control money on the committee is Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) who has taken about $14,000 from both individuals and PACs and is the sponsor of the legislation being considered.

An assault weapons ban was passed by Congress and signed into law in 1994, but it expired in 2004 and was not renewed. On Thursday, the committee will also consider several other gun control bills, including one that would extend background checks to cover weapons that are sold privately.

The NRA also laid out considerable cash in outside spending in the 2012 cycle: $65,000 supporting Cruz; $25,000 benefiting Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and $118,000 on behalf of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

The divide on the issue, and the donations, is almost strictly partisan. Three members have taken money from pro-gun control groups and individuals -- all Democrats. Nine members have taken money from gun rights groups -- eight Republicans, plus the panel's chairman,  Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who has received $7,000 from the National Rifle Association and $2,000 from the National Shooting Sports Foundation. The money to Leahy went to his leadership PAC; he's considered a middle-of-the-roader on gun issues and has earned a grade of "C" on the NRA's scorecard.

These figures are based on an analysis by CRP researchers that combines money from gun rights and gun control PACs with donations from individuals who have been identified as being supportive of one side or the other by having given to the PAC of one of the groups involved. Even if money from individuals is subtracted from the totals, nearly all of the money still comes from gun rights groups and goes almost entirely to Republicans.

Gun rights PACs have contributed more than $199,000 to the eight Republicans on the committee and Leahy. Of that, $129,700 came from the National Rifle Association PAC. 

The largest donation from a group pushing for more gun regulation was $5,000 to Feinstein from Handgun Control Inc. That group changed its name to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, whose PAC contributed a total of just $4,018 to three House candidates in the 2012 cycle.

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