Add semi-automatic weapons to the list of Class III firearms
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The issue of gun control is something I’ve always had in the back of my mind, just reflective and contemplative when a mass shooting comes up in the news. However, with this recent massacre occurring two hours from where my wife and I are moving to in a few weeks it has been brought to the forefront.
Recently, I've started seeing posts about how the government wants to take people’s guns away, many memes about 2nd Amendment rights, misquotes from the Constitution, etc. I had one simple question that none of the internet soapboxers could answer: why aren’t fully automatic weapons used for these mass shootings? I mean, they fall under the 2nd Amendment, they are clearly arms. And for someone who wants to inflict the maximum amount of damage, wouldn’t this be their first choice?
A quick lookup brought me to the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA). This was a response to gang violence and Tommy guns in post-Prohibition America. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre was one such incident where 7 gang members were killed (a lot for the time). The federal government had the common sense to realize that the 2nd Amendment is not gospel and legislation was needed to deal with these new modern weapons. However, they were NOT banned. Come to find out, fully auto guns are legal. In order to purchase or own one, you have to go through a process of registering it, an extensive background check including fingerprinting and photos, and have written permission from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). The list of NFA items also includes shortened shotguns and rifles and silencers. These laws are still in place today, but you don't hear about mass shootings with fully automatic weapons, only their semi-auto counterparts. The difficulty of getting them must be keeping them out of the hands of the perpetrators of mass shootings.
Fast forward 80 years and we have another situation where a single type of weapon is capable of killing every living thing in a wide area with incredible efficiency. The “modern sport rifle” or “assault rifle” or whatever the hell you want to call it (a semi-automatic, cheap, powerful and accurate weapon capable of firing 80+ rounds per minute) has become the weapon of choice for mass shootings. It didn’t exist until WWII, and since has only become even more deadly with affordability, reliability, ease of firing, power and accuracy. They’re legal in all 50 states, sometimes with no waiting period, with a paper-thin background check for felonies.
Some are calling for a reintroduction of the Assault Rifle Ban, but I think this goes too far. Assault rifles are too difficult to define and gun makers easily find loopholes. I genuinely believe they can be used for legitimate hunting and sporting purposes as well. What I think makes sense is to place all semi-automatic rifles under the list of NFA items. There is already a legal framework and precedence in place in this country that allows for regulation of the deadliest of weapons, and it has been shown to actually work. This would require extensive, exhaustive background checks, registration and a permit to own, buy or sell. Yes, this is a serious amount of time and effort, but these guns are seriously powerful, seriously dangerous and seriously deadly. I believe (and I don’t think I’m alone here) that a machine with the capability of killing over 50 people attending a concert and, just last year, 49 people in a nightclub must be regulated.
New and robust gun control legislation, like what I have proposed here for semi-automatic rifles, is necessary.
In addition, increasing the fee from $200, which has not increased since 1934, to a more modern $3,000 (less than what $200 in 1934 would be today, with inflation).
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