Monday, July 04, 2005


Not What I Wanted To Read On The 4th

It's often been said that President Bush has not yet done anything to infridge upon the 2nd Amendment, despite his support of the "assault weapon" ban. Well, that may have been true - until now. The ATF is now denying Form 6 importation of barrels for weapons that either do not meet the interpretation of "sporting purpose" or those weapons that were specifically mentioned by name in the 1989 import ban. This presumably will also apply to receivers (goodbye, inexpensive Imbels).

For those of us that are fans of military-style semi-automatic rifles, this means that the import of AK-47 and FAL-style parts kits (as well as whatever other obscure retired weapons still lurk out there) is pretty much stopped. Yes, domestically-sourced barrels are available, at least for FAL-style rifles. But that'll shoot the price of a build through the roof, as if it wasn't already bad enough to throw away a bunch of perfectly-good mil-spec parts to comply with the 1989 import ban (that particular piece of law places a limit on the number of imported parts in a weapon that does not meet the definition of "sporting purpose").

The problem with the "sporting purpose" provision of the 1968 Gun Control Act is that it's nearly impossible to determine what it means. In my mind, it should eliminated since it's so vague, and if not, then it needs to be defined in the broadest possible sense. Rep. Ron Paul feels the same way, too, and has introduced a bill into the House that would eliminate this provision of the GCA (I would not recommend holding one's breath while waiting for this to pass, especially since the NRA has gone limp-wristed on this one).

In the meantime, I call on President Bush to call off the minions in the ATF, and allow the import of parts that will almost certainly be used on legally-assembled firearms. That is, if he sincerely believes in the 2nd Amendment, which is something I still doubt (and I doubt even further that he thinks the true purpose of the 2nd is to protect the people from their government).

UPDATE: More on HR1703 here.

I suspect the reason that the NRA is quiet on this one, and the reason that Bush may be supporting the ruling, is that this is also an effective form of protectionism for domestic gun makers, which are being beat up like all other manufacturing industries by cheap imports.

I would rather see a strong domestic industry, and scarce cheap mil-surp foreign imports, than a sea of surplus parts.

And, as you point out, if there is sufficient demand for a part, a domestic maker will pop up to build it.

I agree that the "sporting" clause is incorrect and should be removed from all gun control laws--the 2nd ammendment is not about duck hunting.
The problem with the protectism angle is that the market has failed to respond to it. For example, try finding a good hammer/sear/trigger set for an FAL right now - it's nearly impossible.

While I totally 100% agree with your desire to see a strong domestic firearms industry, I don't think there's any worry about that right now. The problem lies with the fact that they're all tied-up producing parts for military contracts. Colt has got no interest in the civvy market right now, for example, and the same is true with smaller vendors such as DSA. Now, one would think that other vendors would be able to pop up with all the excess manufacturing capacity that's present in the US right now, but that's not happening. Whether it's regulatory hurdles or a simple lack of firearms-specific knowledge, I'm not sure.
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