Today the editorial board (which means the editor) of USA Today wrote a column stating that we should resurrrect the Feinstein Assault Weapon ban.
One idea they gave of course isn't a ban on assault weapons. "And to outlaw the high-capacity magazines, with more than 10 rounds, that help make them so deadly." I can challenge this since they are arguing that a new ban would have prevented the Orlando shooting. Why do I say it wouldn't, because the shooter already had background checks and licenses that match a law enforcement officer. And no gun controlist is calling for Police to be bared from access to high capacity magazines. So this shooter wouldn't have been prevented.
As to the gun ban the "Editorial Board" said "The 1994 law might have been even more successful had it been crafted more strictly. But gun makers are adept at finding legal loopholes, and this was no exception. They tweaked their products and sold the revised version legally." Actually, the government assisted in this and the evidence has already been sent to europe (via the internet). You see the Federal government had a reason for getting the AR-15 off the ban sheet, as well as the M-1A. Just as California first lobbied Bushmaster to make a fixed magazine version of the AR-15, to be followed by Jerry Brown identifying guns equiped with a Bulllet Button magazine release are not assault weapons. He has rejected two laws sent him as Governor to make the bullet button illegal.
In short the editorial board is claiming that after almost 20 years they are unaware of why the Clinton Administration changed the CMP gun requirements to "MANDATE" the use of the AR-15 and all the guns used in the higher level CMP events have to be made by manufacturers on the Army list of approved gun makers to manufacture AR-15 components during a war. After 20 years the "editorial Board" can no longer claim culpable deniability.
After the shootings in Orlando I reviewed my pages on gun control in anticipation of the political calls for new gun control laws. What I noticed in doing this was that we truly have become selective in our memory of events.
On radio broadcasts people have suggested the terrorist were only using guns to restart the gun control debate. Others point to the AR-15 as the gun that is always found at mass shootings and thus try to restart the assault weapon ban debate.
But as I stated at the beginning, we have become highly selective in our memories.
Soon after the shootings at Umpqua Community College, President Barrack Obama made a comment regarding deaths in the United States by terrorism compared to gun deaths. It was a comment he should have never made since his own administration seemed unwilling to recognize any deaths, murders, or attack as being a terrorist event. That is unless said event could be branded against white, protestant gun owners.
Virginia Tech in 2007 held the record for the most deaths at 33 until Orlando. He did it with only two pistols. What amplified his lethality was that he put locks on the main exits, turning the engineering building into his personal hunting grounds.
Fort Hood in 2009, it took until 2016 for the Obama Administration to label it as terrorism. The original statement was workplace violence. Major Hasan used two pistols, one a revolver, to kill 13 soldiers and wound 33 others. His plan was he would be the only one armed.
In 2012 the Aurora Colorado theater shooting got everyone’s attention since he was a white boy (James Eagan Holmes), highly educated, and he used an AR-15. He killed 12 people and wounded 70 before his capture. The darkness of the theater, plus the limited exits worked for him.
The Tsarnaev brothers attack on the Boston Marathon in 2013 used only homemade bombs. They killed only three people, but they wounded over 260. In general casualties (killed and wounded) they still hold the record even over the 100 killed and injured at Orlando.
The San Bernardino shooters are remembered for their use of two assault rifles in a state that banned them years ago. What is not remembered is the pipe bombs they left to explode when the paramedics arrived. Thankfully, like the bombs at Columbine that they mirrored, they didn’t go off.
Again the June 17th 2015 shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal church fit peoples needs since it was a White boy with a fetish for Confederate flags. But the nine people he killed died because he had one pistol: no bombs, and no assault rifle.
Equally lost is the Umpqua Community College shooting I previously mentioned? An African American shooter, but that fact has been made to disappear from the record. Also that he killed 10 people and wounded at least 7 more. He didn’t use an assault Rifle or even a semi-auto pistol. Instead he had five revolvers, though more notice was made of a long gun he left in the car. Also lost to memory is that the shooter was wearing a flak jacket.
We remember the race, the means and even the reason when they suit our personal views. When they don't we just try and make it disappear.
In April a new book was released attempting to revise history regarding firearms in Early America. Like the Bellesiles book Arming America in 2000, this book claims that the American gun culture was the product of good marketing after the Civil War. To do that, as Bellesiles did before this new author (Ms Haag), you simply make the War of 1812, the Mexican American War, the Texas War for Independence and of course every Indian war before the trail of tears vanish from history.
I saw this book just today in a bookstore. Couldn’t even get past the start of Chapter 2 when it suddenly claimed Interchangeable parts was a British invention that we Americans only began using after 1840. Even the worst histories state a Frenchman was the first to develop the premise, work that was followed by Eli Whitney in his arms factory in Connecticut. Granted the book mentions Whitney’s work in the first chapter, talking about the demonstration he gave Jefferson in the early 1800s. This is strange given the subsequent statements of it being a British invention and developed after the 1830s, which she makes in chapter two.
Of course she got the Whitney demonstration wrong too by stating Whitney assembled a rifle for Jefferson from random parts he brought with him. The demonstration only involved parts for gun-locks: By the way, Whitney’s government contract was to make smoothbore muskets, not rifles. She then seems to go on a tangent suggesting Whitney only survived as a gun maker through his Federal contract. She completely paints over the fact that Whitney was making arms for the Federal Government, the individual States and for Civilians. During the War of 1812 he was given a Federal contract to build a musket for the government that he had already been building for the state of New York. She in turn mentions this in an off handed manner by mentioning the Wickham Musket of 1812 and Callender Irvine’s attempts to cancel musket contracts issued by his predecessor Tench Coxe to people like Whitney. She of course is ignorant of the fact that within a year of trying to end these contracts, Irvine was frantically trying to find any gun he could to arm the Federal Army as it now faced the cream of the British Army at Washington, Baltimore, Plattsburg and finally New Orleans (AKA the missing War of 1812).
Regarding the contracts, she only mentioned one civilian gun contract, the 1798. Probably because this was the contract Whitney was in. She then uses this one contract to make the argument that the vast majority of Arms in America were made at Springfield and Harpers Ferry. This is in line with the argument there were few American gunsmiths, and that even the ones we had during the Revolution had gone into other trades. She supports that claim by mentioning a “gunsmith” that ran a powder mill during the revolution, who supposedly then went into the Coffin business. When I saw that reference I remembered the story of a Powder Mill on the Brandywine river that exploded late in the Revolution. I’ll have to see who managed that powder mill.
I am being mean here, since any good gun historian knows that after DuPont immigrated to the United States to escape the French Revolution his powder milling operations would effectively corner the Black powder market by the Civil War, supplying half the powder used by the Union Army (and Navy). And of course, in her quest to separate the federal arms from civilian contractors at this time in American history, she clean forgot that Springfield Armory and Harpers Ferry didn’t make powder. So where then did the Federal government get the power for not just its muskets, but all its cannons (both land and sea based) if it didn't have any civilian contractors.
Back to the contracts for guns, she obviously missed the 1792 rifle contract, the 1807-1808 rifle and pistol contracts, and finally the musket contracts in 1808-1810. But again, its so much easier to say there was no civilian manufacturing when you won’t even recognize all the Federal and state contracts to these civilian contractors. Simpler also to suggest we were heavily importing arms from France, or even England, during this time when both nations were fighting each other in the Napoleonic wars. Federal records show many State and Federal arms purchase requests to Europe in the early 1800s were never filled. And of course I doubt she ever mentioned the Federal Tariff on importation of arms from Europe, one of the first laws ever passed by Congress. Why have a tariff if there is no industry to protect.
Again, this is just what I saw in the first one and a half chapters. It will be interesting how the media, which so far is supportive of this book deals with my forthcoming book on the War of 1812 were I list the number of arms in the militia returns. Arms people like Ms Haag, say did not exist.
James N. Gibson
Published Author, Degreed Engineer and amateur Military Historian.