There are many misconceptions when it comes to gun control, and with the 2016 general election as polarizing as it is, the amount of information can be overwhelming. The saddest part, however, is that not only does gun control not work, but we the People have been swindled into believing these ridiculous cons ever since they were first instituted in 1934.
The year following the repeal of Prohibition, Congress enacted the National Firearms Act, with the support of the National Rifle Association, in an effort to curb gun violence. It placed a $200 tax stamp on short-barreled rifles/shotguns, fully-automatic weapons, and suppressors. This $200 is not much today, but it was the equivalent of just over $3,600 in 1934. It wasn’t until 1986, when the Hughes Amendment was added to the Firearm Owners Protection Act, that fully automatic weapons were all but fully banned from civilian ownership.
The Amendment, sponsored by New Jersey Democrat William Hughes, was passed by a voice vote and the final bill was signed by conservative hero, President Ronald Reagan, on May 19, 1986. Civilians can still own fully automatic weapons, provided they were manufactured prior to the date the bill was signed. This caused every single fully automatic weapon on the civilian market to become a surplus weapon, and the price skyrocketed overnight (as supply-and-demand will dictate). Today, you can buy a pre-ban rifle for the low price of about $25,000, plus the $200 tax stamp and approval from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Many people think I’m crazy when I call for the repeal of the Hughes Amendment and the National Firearms Act. They typically parrot William Hughes when he asked on the House Floor “as to what sporting value machine guns have.” Even pro-2nd Amendment people ask me why full-auto should be legal. The answer is simple: banning it did absolutely nothing, and the 2nd Amendment protects our right to keep and bear arms.
With mass shootings constantly being in the spotlight, why would I want such repeal?
Well, it’s because the homicide rate has always been incredibly low in the United States. The bloodiest year on record was 1980, when the homicide rate peaked at 10.2 per 100,000. That may sound scary, but it is actually not. Making that figure a percentage, it is only 0.0102%. To further dissect this, the total number of deaths in the US in 1980 was just under 2 million (1,989,841 to be exact). Of those, only 23,039 (1.16%) died by homicide, and only 3,834 (0.19%) were homicides committed by rifles and shotguns of any type (including fully automatic). This excludes handguns, which are responsible for about 64% of homicides, but only 1.12% of all death (2014), including suicides (0.53% excluding suicides). Summing up the bloodiest homicide year on record, being murdered by a firearm of any type contributed to only 0.723% of all deaths in 1980.
So, how do these figures pan out in today’s gun-controlled America? Well, homicide is certainly down. If you ask the gun control crowd, they will tout how 2014’s homicide decreased a whopping 60% since 1980. That is certainly a true statement, but it is incredibly misleading. Just as the “per 100,000” statistic makes the rate seem much higher than it actually is, the 1980 rate of 0.0102% dropped to 0.00416% (or 4.16 per 100,000) in 2014. Approximately 0.0008% of Americans were murdered by rifles, which translates to 0.0975% of all deaths.
It’s laughable when you actually look at these figures and understand what they mean. One quickly realizes that the “epidemic” of gun violence is anything but. The figures may be laughable, but that is not to say that any untimely death is. Certainly it is tragic when someone ends another person’s right to live. That said, we should not let tragedy dictate and institute bad public policy. This mentality of “giv[ing] up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety” has led to the National Firearms Act of 1934, the Federal Firearms Act of 1938, the Gun Control Act of 1968, the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, the Brady Handgun Violence Protection Act of 1993, and the Federal Assault Weapons Ban of 1994 (although this expired in 2004).
What has 82 years of gun control gotten us in the United States? The answer is: absolutely nothing. Right now, a significant percentage of Americans support expanding background checks despite the past 20 years requiring them. It may sound good on paper, but the fact is that background checks have stopped nothing as they are not indicative of future motives (hence “background”). A person with a squeaky-clean background will pass every time even if their reason for buying a firearm is to shoot up a gun-free zone.
Earlier this year, the ATF enacted rule 41P which further restricts NFA items, like short-barreled rifles and suppressors, all without congressional approval. And today, the two leading candidates for President of the United States are both calling for a law that would allow a nameless, faceless, unelected, and unaccountable bureaucrat to have full power in dictating who can and cannot exercise their 2nd Amendment rights by placing them on the Federal No-Fly List, without any due process, whatsoever.
When will enough be enough before Americans stand up and take their rights back? When will we demand that our elected officials uphold the Constitution? Or, better yet, when will we break the chains of the two-party system and actually elect people whom we know will shrink the size of government and expand personal liberties? Banning firearms of any type, restricting their magazine capacities, and even mandatory background checks all make it harder for we the People to exercise our right to keep and bear arms. They are all infringements on the 2nd Amendment and they all must be repealed in their entirety.
* Derek Wills is a US Navy veteran from Houston, Texas, with an obsession for history. Derek is also the founder of a small group called the Society for the Advancement of Firearm Equality (SAFE). You can follow them on Facebook, and Twitter and Instagram at @FirearmEquality.
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