Why is it that there is so little trust between gun owners and gun control advocates? Why are gun owners so suspicious of "reasonable" gun control laws?
In the current gun control debate, gun control groups and their allies in Congress have been careful to say, "We only want these reasonable measures, we don't want to take guns away from law abiding citizens. We don't want laws that harass or hinder responsible firearms ownership." The measures they want to take (at least for now) fall into three categories: An Assault Weapons Ban, a limit on magazine capacity and universal background checks.
My home state of California has had exactly these measures in place for decades (with the exception of the magazine limit which has been in effect for "only" 13 years). California is the model for all the proposed new laws which are - no coincidence - being pushed by California's senior Senator.
So, having enacted these measures 10-90 years ago - surely California legislators are saying, "Look see how well these laws work! They are a good model for the nation. Do this and you will solve the problem. Do this and you won't need any more restrictions." Right? Wrong!
Far from being satisfied with these laws, California's liberal Democratic 2/3's majority in the state Assembly and Senate is working to enact much, much more draconian laws designed to make owning a firearm as difficult and expensive as possible.
Consider the following proposed laws, and you will understand why gun owners have a very well founded belief that when gun control advocates are quite simply lying when they say that the measures they are now pushing are the "reasonable gun laws" that they will be satisfied with.
In 1990, California passed the Assault Weapons Ban that is the model of the ban Sen. Feinstein has proposed at a federal level. As with Sen. Feinstein's bill, the law contained a "grandfathering" provision that permitted current owners to keep their affected firearms - provided they registered them with the state. At the time, as in the current federal debate, those who said that these firearms would eventually be confiscated were characterized as a "bunch of paranoid gun nuts". That was 23 years ago. To the best of my knowledge, none of these registered weapons has ever been used in a crime. Today, a bill under consideration (AB 174) would provide for the confiscation of these firearms. Gun rights advocates have warned for decades that "registration leads to confiscation" - this bill proves that they are right.
Than there is AB 48. This bill has a number of provisions, many of which are simply designed to make owning and using any firearm as expensive and difficult as possible.
1) The law would license all ammunition vendors, require detailed record keeping on ammunition sales, and ban internet sales of ammunition. To those who are unfamiliar with the history of gun laws in the US, this sounds very reasonable. To those who are familiar - including gun control advocates - the effects are very well known.
You see, under the original Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA 1968), we had this same system nation wide for 18 years (from 1969 to 1987). When Congress looked at revising the nations gun laws in 1986, both the FBI and the ATF did not believe that this law was worth keeping. The FBI could not come up with even one case where this law had helped solve a crime. The ATF testified that they had to spend a lot of time auditing ammunition records and that this time could be better spent elsewhere. In the light of this, this section of GCA 1968 was repealed.
So, if it didn't stop crime what did it do? Well it made ammunition a lot harder to get (especially in rural areas) since many places that sold ammunition, but not firearms, simply decided it wasn't worth the hassle. It also made ammunition, much much more expensive - something that doesn't bother criminals or even mass shooters - because they use so little compared to target and competitive shooters. This law will have the same effects.
It will make ammunition a lot more expensive. Before the recent rush on ammo, a 50 round box of .22 LR ammo sold at a gun store here in California for about $7.50. At the other end of the spectrum, online sellers were offering 500 bricks for about $25.00. Doing the math, if online sales are banned, the cost of 500 rounds of .22 LR (about a days worth of shooting) will increase by 300%. Do you think this will increase or decrease recreational shooting?
Could it be that making recreational shooting more expensive is one of the main goals of AB 48?
2) It will require vendors to report all but the smallest sales of ammunition to the police. One has to wonder what the purpose of this is? Who is going to end up being reported? Criminals? They don't need very much ammo. Mass shooters? Most don't even use one box of ammo, so they won't be reported either.
The people who will be reported are those who buy and use a lot of ammo - target shooters, competitive shooters and recreational shooters. If this law passes, they will potentially be questioned by police. Remember, we are talking about a constitutionally protected activity.
What if newspapers faced questioning by police if the simply bought "too much paper"? Would this not have a chilling effect upon freedom of the press? This law is designed to discourage people from exercising their constitutional rights - pure and simple.
3) This bill also makes it illegal to repair defective 11+ capacity magazines purchased prior to the ban by making repair parts and kits illegal.
Even more outrageous, this bill makes magazines that merely "appear" to hold more than ten rounds illegal - even if they hold 10 or fewer rounds! That's right, if your magazine simply "looks wrong" you could be arrested.
AB 187 would impose a tax on ammunition - the amount currently is not stated in the bill - and direct the proceeds to "crime prevention". This is yet another effort to make shooting more expensive. It also implies that law abiding gun owners are somehow responsible for crime and should therefore pay for it.
Then there are the bills by Senator Yee - born and raised in Communist China. His chief of staff told a gun rights advocate - in a Facebook chat - that hunting rifles and shotguns should be banned. The gun rights advocate posted a screenshot online.
His first bill (SB 47) would vastly expand the number of firearms classed as assault weapons. (Pay attention everyone - once you have an "assault weapons ban", it is simple to add more and more kinds of guns.)
Senator Yee, doesn't care one bit that he swore an oath to "preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States". He wants gun laws like they have in China - a total ban on firearms.
Finally, the contempt that gun control advocates have for the 2nd Amendment can be seen in a statement made by former state Senate Pro Tem Don Perata in response to concerns that some of these laws just might violate the Constitution, "Don't worry about legalities - that's why we have courts."
Remember, California has had everything the anti-gun rights groups are asking at a federal level FOR DECADES - plus mandatory handgun registration and as of, January 1, 2014 long gun registration too. One would think that this would be enough - it isn't. Anything short of a total or near ban on all firearms will not satisfy the majority of gun control advocates. That is why gun owners don't trust gun control advocates. They have very good reason to believe that the real goal is the complete abolition their 2nd Amendment rights.