On Friday, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), the trade association for the firearms and ammunition, joined several other gun rights groups in announcing that it opposes the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019 introduced in the U.S. Senate last week.
The legislation introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and signed by a host of other Democrats, like earlier versions, relies on wrongfully defining commonly-owned semi-automatic rifles based on certain cosmetic features. The new version of this legislation, however, expands ways to ban the most-popular centerfire rifle in America. Since the original Assault Weapons Ban expired in 2004, more than 16 million of these rifles have been legally purchased for lawful purposes.
“It is disappointing to see politicians continue to pursue a failed policy agenda that has proven ineffective in improving public safety and will deny law-abiding citizens their Constitutional right,” said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel. “Despite what proponents may say, the record shows that Sen. Feinstein’s original 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban had no demonstrable impact on reducing crime and this one would be equally ineffective.”
Since the original ban, firearms ownership has increased while the criminal misuse of firearms has steadily dropped. FBI crime statistics demonstrate there is no justification for banning modern sporting rifles.
Senator Feinstein continues to mislead the American public by demonizing semi-automatic rifles based on external, cosmetic features that have no bearing on the function of a firearm, labelling them with a term invented in 1998 by the Violence Policy Center’s Josh Sugarmann for the purpose of confusing and misleading the public into believing commonly owned semi-automatic rifles are equivalent to fully automatic machine guns. Sugarmann wrote, “anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun (and) – can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions of these weapons.” In reality, modern sporting rifles operate in the same manner as other semi-automatic firearms, firing one round with each pull and release of the trigger.
Make no mistake, this is legislation is only the first salvo. The 2020 election campaigns and announcements have begun. Many politicians will be trying to “one up” the competition or fund raise off villainizing firearms. Unfortunately, their efforts may not stop at rhetoric and misdirection. Many bills may be passed and our rights are at risk with every new election cycle.