Open Letter to Members of Congress:
In coming weeks, you will face pressure from the Obama administration and others to implement a ban on semi-automatic firearms and certain ammunition feeding devices, and to pass laws requiring private gun transfers to be processed via the National Instant Check System.
Yet the “assault weapon” misnomer is a myth perpetuated by gun control advocates who seek to confuse the public about the difference between millions of semi-automatic firearms, which are functionally identical to hunting rifles, and military “assault rifles,” which are machine guns virtually unavailable to the public since implementation of the National Firearms Act of 1934.
The truth about modern rifles
The modern rifles Senator Dianne Feinstein has, by her own admission, waited decades to ban differ from others primarily by cosmetic features such as barrel shrouds, threaded barrels, flash suppressors, pistol grips and adjustable stocks – things which do not affect function. The notion being promulgated by gun control advocates that such features increase lethality by allowing guns to be “fired from the hip” is absurd: Any firearms expert will attest that rifles can only be effectively utilized from the shoulder.
Although you are being told that ammunition used by modern rifles is excessively destructive, in truth it is ballistically inferior to common .30-06 hunting ammunition and was selected by the military not for its lethality, but instead for light weight and low recoil.
And when you hear how “high capacity” magazines increase mortality in mass shootings, understand that Seung-Hui Cho carried no fewer than nineteen magazines for the Virginia Tech rampage, and that nearly all mass murderers who use guns carry multiple firearms, rendering magazine capacity moot. Like the misnomer “assault weapon,” the “high capacity” designation of more than ten rounds for magazines represents nothing more than an arbitrary limit set on devices which have been in common possession since the early Twentieth Century.
Moreover, attempts to process private gun sales through the National Instant Check System represent nothing less than a stepping stone to national gun registration; under the Clinton administration, the FBI retained NICS transaction records in violation of the Brady Act, creating a defacto national registration system.
Most outrageous, however, is Sen. Feinstein’s proposal to regulate “grandfathered” modern rifles under the National Firearms Act. Doing so would not only entail registering millions of existing firearms, but would represent unprecedented expansion of police powers through the BATFE by requiring millions of gun owners to be fingerprinted and photographed like common criminals. Because a large percentage will refuse to comply, the scheme, if implemented, will make felons of otherwise law-abiding citizens.
Semi-auto ban: No impact on violence
Neither have such laws been effective. From 1994 to 2004, the previous ban on semi-automatic firearms and magazines had no impact on school shootings, which actually increased during that period. Indeed, some of the worst school shootings, including Columbine High School, took place during the ban.
Despite predictions from gun control advocates that violent crime would increase after the ban expired, it has actually dropped: According to FBI Uniform Crime Reports, between expiration of the ban in 2004 and the most recent for which data is available (2011), violent crime dropped by 17% and homicide, by 15%.
Meanwhile, weapons use in homicide has remained unchanged and, significantly, use of rifles (including those targeted for bans) declined slightly from 2.7% of homicides in 2004 to 2.5% of homicides in 2011. Clearly, rifles of any type, including those with features targeted by semi-auto bans, are rarely used in crimes.
‘Gun Free School Zones Act’ increased killings
What does appear to have impacted school shootings was implementation of the latest version of the “Gun Free School Zones Act” (GFSZA), which is associated with a dramatic increase in school murders.
Between the first significant school shooting, in 1966, and enactment of the 1996 GFSZA, media summaries reveal 8 shootings with 134 victims killed or wounded – a rate of 4.3 victims per year. Between 1996 and 2012, the review finds 62 shootings and 367 victims – a fivefold increase to 23 victims per year. Yet, during the same period, FBI Uniform Crime Reports indicate homicide nationwide dropped by 14%.
While media summaries may not be comprehensive, the GFSZA has clearly been an abject failure. Worse, evidence suggests it may actually create “kill zones” which attract violent predators.
Researchers John Lott and William Landes, then at Yale and the University of Chicago, respectively, studied multiple victim public shootings. Said Lott, “Gun prohibitionists concede that banning guns around schools has not quite worked as intended—but their response has been to call for more regulation of guns. Yet what might appear to be the most obvious policy may actually cost lives. When gun-control laws are passed, it is law-abiding citizens, not would-be criminals, who adhere to them.”
Examining data from 1976 to 1995, they discovered that mass homicides in states adopting concealed handgun laws declined by 84%, deaths plummeted by 90% and injuries by 82.5%. Crediting the reductions to deterrence (even suicidal maniacs avoid armed victims), Lott and Landes called their findings “dramatic,” concluding: “[T]he only policy factor to have a consistently significant influence on multiple victim public shootings is the passage of concealed handgun laws.”
Members of the National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban demand that Congress refuse to use lawful gun owners as political scapegoats and instead reduce school violence by:
Defeating any attempt to pass gun control including, but not limited to, banning semi-automatic firearms or magazines, or requiring private gun transfers to be registered through the National Instant Check System; and
Repealing the Gun Free School Zones Act of 1996.
Some will urge you to “compromise,” perhaps even the National Rifle Association. The many thousands of gun rights supporters represented by the Coalition, however, regard “compromise,” as our opposition defines it, to be a process in which we lose slightly fewer of our rights than under the original proposal. Consequently, any legislation which registers or bans firearms; limits magazine capacity; registers private transactions through NICS; or restricts time, place or manner of self-defense is unacceptable.
Members of Congress who support gun owners by opposing all gun control will, in turn, benefit from support by Coalition organizations. Members of Congress who support gun control by any means, procedural or substantive, will be targeted for defeat by Coalition members. They will be subject to picketing, leaflet drops at events in their districts, phone and mail campaigns, and political action committee opposition. NRA ratings and endorsements will have no impact on Coalition actions.
In coming weeks, we look forward to working with you to reduce school violence by allowing lawful citizens in schools and elsewhere to defend themselves against violent predators.
The National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban
The Firearms Coalition
Jeff Knox, Managing Director
Chris Knox, Director of Communications
Gun Owners of America
Larry D. Pratt, Executive Director
Rights Watch International
F. Paul Valone, Executive Director
Second Amendment Sisters
Marinelle Thompson, President
Lee Ann Tarducci, Director of Operations
Dave Yates, Co-founder
Dave Van, Co-Founder
Arizona Citizens Defense League
Dave Kopp, President
Steve Jones, Chairman
Florida Carry, Inc.
Sean Caranna, Executive Director
Richard Nascak, Executive Director
Grass Roots North Carolina
F. Paul Valone, President
Gun Owners Civil Rights Alliance, Minnesota
Joe Olson, President
Gun Owners of California
Sam Paredes, Executive Director
Gun Owners of Maine
Shane Belanger, Executive Director
Gun Owners of Utah
Charles Hardy, Public Policy Director
Gun Owners of Vermont
Gary Cutler, Legislative Director
Michigan Gun Owners
Jeff LaFave, President
Montana Shooting Sports Association
Gary Marbut, President
Nebraska Firearms Owners Association
Wesley Dickinson, President
New Hampshire Firearms Coalition
Jonathan R. Evans, Esq, President
New Jersey 2nd Amendment Society
Frank Flamingo, President
Oregon Firearms Federation
Kevin Starrett, Executive Director
Peaceable Texans for Firearms Rights
Paul Velte, President
Shooters Committee on Political Education, NY
Stephen Aldstadt, President
Utah shooting Sports Council
Clark Aposhian, Chairman
Virginia Citizens Defense League
Philip Van Cleave, President
West Virginia Citizens Defense League
Keith Morgan, President
Western Missouri Shooters Alliance
Kevin Jamison, Press Officer
Wisconsin Carry, Inc.
Nik Clark, Chairman/President