An innovative (and probably effective) way to ban ‘assault weapons’
“Assault weapons bans” go back a quarter century with California implementing the first such restrictions in 1989. The the California Department of Justice’s assault weapon list has some registered 145,253 firearms as of last year when I did an in-depth report on them. However, the AWB, although tweaked continually, focuses on named models and arbitrary cosmetic features such as hand grips, barrel shrouds, and threaded muzzles, deeming such guns “assaulty” while they accidentally wind up making such innocent models as the Marlin Model 60, a tubular magazine .22LR popgun, illegal in some states.
Such bans aren’t very efficient, nor do they reduce crime, as witnesses a decade after in a postmortem on the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which sunsetted in 2004.
Even the sometimes left-leaning New York Times noted that, “The continuing focus on assault weapons stems from the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M16 rifle.”
Further, manufacturers can just rename their guns and delete cosmetic features, selling state-compliant models. As such, you can still very much buy modified AR-15-ish rifles in California legally over the counter. Sure, they have bullet buttons and look funny, but at their heart they are still ARs.
However, Massachusetts Atty. Gen. Maura Healey last week flipped the script and decided to re-interpret the state’s 1998 ban to include an interchangeability test on the gun’s action, as ruling whether it is banned under state law. For instance, if Mass-compliant 5.56mm semi-auto rifle accepts the same bolt carrier group and magazine of the banned AR-15, it is banned as well.
Gun grabbing genius this is. Because of the extremely broad strokes used to issue her office’s new guidance, most semi-auto centerfire rifles with the exception of a few (Ruger Mini-14, Remington 7400, Winchester 1910, etc), can be outlawed.
The thing is, Healy may have overstepped her authority and there has been a run on stores by gun owners fearing it will stick and some are promising legislation and litigation to short circuit her effort.
Either way, you can bet it is a blueprint for future moves by lawmakers to place a much more restrictive gun prohibition in the works.