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The “features” on semi-automatic shotguns that Feinstein wants banned are similar to the features for semi-auto rifles, with two important additions: First, shotguns wouldn’t have to have detachable magazines to be banned. Because all shotguns have “grips,” this means any semi-auto shotgun could fall under her ban. Second, Feinstein would outlaw any semi-auto shotgun that has a “fixed magazine with the capacity to accept more than 5 rounds.” This would ban a wide variety of home-defense shotguns. It also means using a magazine extender to increase the capacity of one’s Remington 1100 from five to seven rounds would make the individual an instant felon.
As for magazines, the Feinstein-Obama bill would ban the manufacture or sale of magazines holding more than 10 rounds. This would directly impact some forms of hunting for which use of semi-auto magazines with more than 10 rounds is common—namely, predator control and feral hogs.
Even more importantly for Second Amendment purposes, it would deprive Americans of standard-capacity magazines for what the Supreme Court, in the Heller case, called the type of firearm “overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose” of self-defense. Today, about three-quarters of new handguns are semi-autos; of these, a very large percentage have standard magazines that hold between 11 and 19 rounds. Such handguns are also the primary arms of the vast majority of police officers in the United States today. This fact demonstrates that the purpose of a semi-auto handgun with a standard magazine is lawful defense of self and others—that’s the only reason that police carry firearms.
Most police officers also carry backup long guns in their patrol cars. Quite often, that long gun is an AR-15 rifle with a 20- or 30-round magazine. Again, these rank-and-file police officers have those guns because they believe they are the best choice for lawful protection of self and others. That’s just the opposite of the hateful and willfully ignorant claims of the gun-banners who tell you that the only purpose of an AR-15 or a 30-round magazine is mass murder.
Besides banning the manufacture or import of magazines holding more than 10 rounds, the Feinstein-Obama ban would also make the sale of existing magazines impossible. In order to sell an existing 15-round magazine, a firearm dealer would have to certify to the attorney general that the device was manufactured “on or before the date of enactment” of the ban. Because magazines are not date-stamped for manufacture and do not have serial numbers, that is impossible to do.
So the magazines you own on the day the Feinstein-Obama ban goes into effect would be the only magazines you will ever be allowed to own. And you could still be criminally prosecuted for the ones you do own.
Under the old (1994-2004) Feinstein ban, manufacture of new magazines was banned, but possession of pre-ban magazines was allowed. If the government wanted to prosecute someone for possessing a 15-round magazine, the government had the burden of proving that the magazine was manufactured after the ban went into effect. Notably, the new ban removes that burden of proof.
In other words, if you have a 13-round Kimber magazine you bought in 2006, the federal government could put you on trial, and it would be up to you to convince a jury exactly when that magazine was manufactured.
What if you currently own a firearm covered by the Feinstein-Obama ban? It would be confiscated immediately, unless you follow the same procedure that is required for the purchase of a machine gun or a sound suppressor. You would have to register the gun with Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE), be fingerprinted and pay a tax of $200 per gun. You could never take it out of state without advance written permission from BATFE. If you change the place where the firearm is stored (e.g., you move to a new house), you would have to notify BATFE in advance.
You could not sell or give the firearm to anyone else. When you die, the government will confiscate it. Your heirs will receive no compensation.
All of the above presumes that you’re lucky.
You see, there’s one other crucial step in purchasing a machine gun or a suppressor: You need official permission from your local police chief or sheriff, who must sign ATF Form 4. Many chiefs and sheriffs simply refuse to sign this form for anyone. In effect, they prohibit anyone in their jurisdiction from acquiring machine guns or suppressors.
If your local chief or sheriff won’t sign the Form 4 to allow you to register and pay the taxes on your current semi-autos, then you would have no way of possessing them legally. They would be contraband, and you would be guilty of a serious federal felony.
How long would your sentence be? Suppose that today you have no prior criminal record, and you illegally possess an unregistered machine gun. Under the Feinstein-Obama ban, the prohibited semi-autos would be in the same legal category. Under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, the possession of an unregistered machine gun carries a presumptive sentence of 27 to 51 months for a defendant with no criminal history, depending on how many guns are possessed; and a judge is not supposed to sentence a defendant to probation. Prison time is required.
A perfectly behaved federal prisoner may be released for “good behavior” after serving 85 percent of the sentence. Of course, as a convicted felon they will be forbidden to ever possess a firearm … even by holding a friend’s unloaded gun for a minute.
As for those lucky owners who get local police and batfe permission to keep their own firearms, after paying $200 per gun for the privilege, it wouldn’t be wise to expect to really be able to keep them until one dies. On Feb. 5, 1995, Feinstein explained on “60 Minutes,” “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them . . . Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in, I would have done it. I could not do that. The votes weren’t here.”
In other words, once the votes are there for immediate confiscation, expect that immediate confiscation will happen. The registration lists of all the people who paid the $200-per-gun tax will make confiscation much easier.
To lull legislators into thinking that the Feinstein-Obama bill does not ban very many guns, the bill also includes a list of over 1,000 guns that are not banned. The non-banned list consists of various rifles and shotguns, but not of any handguns. The list is inflated by listing every possible model and variant of non-banned guns that Feinstein could pick from a handful of reference books. For example, the bolt-action Ruger M77 Hawkeye appears 14 times in its various configurations on the Feinstein list.
The non-banned list includes a very small number of semi-auto rifles and shotguns, plus a massive list of lever action, bolt action, pump action or single shot long guns that her bill wouldn’t ban in the first place. This is sort of like a bill that outlaws all forms of beef and chicken, and then contains a list of non-banned foods, such as “boysenberry, biscuits, buns, brownies, basil, bok choy, baker’s chocolate, Brussels sprouts, blueberry muffins, banana bread, bean salad and baklava.” The fact that Feinstein enumerates some of the things that she would not ban (at least not ban today) should not distract from that fact that she would ban an enormous number of firearms and accessories.
Is this Feinstein-Obama ban constitutional? Certainly not under the original meaning of the Second Amendment, nor under the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller and 2010 McDonald decisions. But by the time a case on the Feinstein ban gets to the Supreme Court, President Obama may have had the opportunity to appoint more justices who, like four of the nine current justices, view the Second Amendment as a nullity.
“Stand And Fight” has been the NRA’s motto since last November. Not in the Walter Mitty sense of posing with a gun and talking tough on Facebook, but in the real, immediate and practical sense of collective political and social action to defend our rights.
Contacting elected officials, writing letters to the editor, volunteering with the NRA and with local groups, recruiting new NRA members, talking to friends and neighbors, educating other gun owners about the Feinstein-Obama ban and about other attacks on our rights—these are the ways that all NRA patriots must Stand And Fight.
We must Stand And Fight, not just against the Feinstein-Obama bill in Congress, but also against similar bills in the states and against the entire national anti-gun campaign being directed by Obama, Bloomberg and others.
With Obama now firmly ensconced in the White House for a second term, it is the only chance we have to avert catastrophe.
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America's 1st Freedom
NRA's pure news magazine especially for our membership. Its mission is to deliver professional, compelling, accurate, timely and hard-hitting journalism that tells the truth about the threats to our Second Amendment rights.