House Passes “Assault Weapons” Ban

By now, you’re probably aware that the House of Representatives pushed through their “assault weapons” ban last week. After indicating that it didn’t have the votes to pass, Speaker Nancy Pelosi pulled a fast one, circumventing House rules and forcing a vote when most Reps had already left town for the Congressional break.

Assault weapons ban
(guns.wikea.com)

House rules normally require at least 24 hours for members to read a bill before voting. Pelosi introduced a measure to scrap that rule to bring HR 1808, the so-called “assault weapons” ban, among other bills, for a floor vote that same day. Gun rights advocates resisted mightily, but the measure passed, forcing the vote.

A Mind-Numbing Debate

I ran the live stream all day, from 9:00 AM until the bill passed that evening. The debate was conducted by Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler of New York and Ranking Member Jim Jordan. Of Ohio. It was about what you’d expect. Gun rights supporters like Jordan, Kentucky’s Thomas Massie, Texas’ Chip Roy, Georgia’s Andrew Clyde, and North Carolina’s Dan Bishop continuously hammered home the bill’s unconstitutionality under the Heller and Bruen decisions.

Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan
Ohio’s Jim Jordan hammered at the ban’s unconstitutionality. (Oversight Committee YouTube Channel)

They also noted that Bishop had gotten Nadler to admit in open committee that the point of the bill was that firearms like the AR-15 are ‘in common use,” so they must be banned. Nadler saw no irony in the fact that Heller specifically forbids banning firearms that are “in common use,” as does the National Firearms Act of 1934. The NFA is problematic in many ways, but it’s clear on that.

New York Congressman Jerry Nadler
New York’s Jerry Nadler unironically declared the bill’s purpose is to ban “common use” firearms in a clear violation of the Heller Decision. (upi.com)

The gun controllers trotted out their same talking points about “weapons of war” and the Second Amendment not being absolute. We also heard that the 5.56/.223 round “liquefies organs.” They refused to respond to charges of unconstitutionality other than to deny them. As usual, the gun control argument hinged on images of dead children, with many having photos ready to go as visual aids. It was also clear that most know nothing about firearms and just spouted the talking points over and over.

Thomas Massie tweet
Despite the evidence, gun controllers claimed that the 1994 AWB reduced violent crime.

The gun controllers also denied that they are trying to take anyone’s guns because the bill includes a grandfather clause for existing legally owned firearms and magazines. The kicker is that, while those firearms can be transferred, they require a background check. Even if you leave them to your kids. For that to happen, you have to register those firearms so that Big Brother knows they fall under the ban’s grandfather clause. Voila! The gun controllers have their gun registry.

Georgia Congressman Andrew Clyde
Georgia Congressman Andrew Clyde (Oversight Committee YouTube Channel)

The pro-gun Representatives disappointed me by not bringing that up during the debate. It wouldn’t have altered the vote, but it would have called out the other side’s claim that they weren’t targeting lawful gun owners. Since, you know, they totally are.

Oh, one more thing. Pelosi promised to push more gun control when Congress gets back from vacation. Because of course she will.

Which Guns Count as “Assault Weapons?”

The usual. All AR and AK types, plus anything that looks like them. Plus, detachable magazine fed handguns with a threaded barrel or other scary features. Shotguns with the same. The bill’s text is online if you want to read it. Just search for “HR 1808 Text.”

Pistols outlawed by assault weapons ban
(fpc.com)

Be wary of the line banning “a semiautomatic version of an automatic firearm.” That’s listed in the pistol section. Since the Glock 18 is an automatic firearm and all Glocks are pretty much the same, except for the caliber, does that mean all Glocks could be illegal?

I don’t think the bill’s drafters are smart enough to know that, but can you envision the ATF taking advantage of it? How about expanding it to include ARs and AKs? I can easily make that leap.

It’s Not Law Yet

The good news is that this clearly unconstitutional bill isn’t law. Yet. The Senate must pass it for that to happen. Fortunately, the Senate still has the filibuster in place, meaning that the bill requires 60 votes to pass. That means at least ten Republicans would have to cross over and support the bill.

I say “at least” because it’s not certain that all the Democrats will support it. I expect the good people of West Virginia will pressure Democrat Joe Manchin to vote “no.” Arizona Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is likely getting the same. But we can’t assume that they will do the right thing.

Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin
Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin may be pressured to vote against the ban. (azcapitoltimes.com/nypost.com)

I know I go on and on about contacting your Congressional representatives. But it needs to happen. I know that both my Senators will gleefully vote for the ban. But I’ve already called them. I’ll call them several times a week until it’s done. I don’t care whether they get tired of me. Honestly, I hope I bug the crap out of them.

And don’t assume all Republicans will vote against the bill. Remember that 15 of them voted for Red Flag laws, among other things, just a few weeks ago. Politicians are not trustworthy and must be held accountable. Best to let them know that ahead of time.

Texas Senator John Cornyn
Don’t assume Republicans will oppose the ban. Texas Senator John Cornyn led 15 Republicans to vote for Red Flag laws, despite his constituents’ disapproval. (Shutterstock/KTRK Houston)

But What About the Supreme Court?

Well, if the bill passed and went straight to the court, I think it would not survive. But it doesn’t work that way. Congress routinely passes unconstitutional laws hoping that the court will either uphold part of it, giving them a crack to exploit later, or that the court’s makeup will change by the time the law gets there, if it ever does.

Legal challenges usually take years to get that high. And Clarence Thomas isn’t getting any younger. I wish we could count on the court to be impartial and read the Constitution as it’s written, but that’s not going to happen. Meanwhile, the law goes into effect and kills entire companies in the process. Not to mention it normalizes the law’s position in people’s minds. We cannot get lazy and hope the Supreme Court will save us. Far better to stop it now in the Senate.

A Clear “Assault” on Americans’ rights

I find the gun controllers’ insistence on using the word “assault” to be very ironic. They see no contradiction in doing just that to our rights and our Constitution. Because it really is an assault. The Constitution provides a bulwark against capricious, power-hungry government officials. It does not grant rights. Neither does the government. The Constitution protects citizens’ pre-existing natural rights from the government.

The Bill of Rights
The Bill of Rights clearly protects citizens’ rights from government infringement.

So, any attack on those rights is an assault on the Constitution itself. All in the name of safety, of course. When was the last time a government restrained itself from increasing its power over the people without being legally bound? I’ll wait.

William "Bucky" Lawson is a self-described "typical Appalachian-American gun enthusiast". He is a military historian specializing in World War II and has written a few things, as he says, "here and there". A featured contributor for Strategy & Tactics, he likes dogs, range time, and a good cigar - preferably with an Old Fashioned that has an extra orange slice.

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