Anti-Gun Activist want to Ban All Detachable-Magazine Semi-Automatics

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Over the past couple of weeks, a firearm prohibition advocate who has been in the game for a long time confirmed a couple of things that anybody following the gun control debate already knew. First, that anti-gun activists are still out for their ultimate goal, getting handguns banned. Second, that they (the gun control activists) will not be happy with an “assault weapons” ban that only applies to the external features of a semiautomatic firearm and not to the innards of the gun itself.

Josh Sugarmann, the voice and brains behind the Violence Policy Center (VPC), basically suggested in the Sacramento Bee that all semi-automatic firearms using detachable magazines should be banned, regardless of magazine capacity or the external features of the firearms. Sugarmann, in a blatant attempt to instill fear in gullible readers, stated that detachable-magazine semi-autos are “unprecedented” in America. Umm, what? The detachable magazine semi-automatic has been popular for more than a century. Take a look at Browning’s Model 1911 .45 caliber pistol as just one example.

It goes without saying that banning firearms using detachable mags would affect the manufacture of pretty much all semi-automatic pistols and general-purpose semi-auto rifles, like the AR-15. It’s no accident that these firearms account for a large majority of new firearms sold in the United States; that is why banning guns based on detachable magazines appeals so much to Sugarmann!

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Sugarmann has made it no secret that he thinks all handguns and semi-automatic rifles should be banned. He is the author of Every Handgun is Aimed at You: The Case for Banning Handguns, as well as a 1988 paper that proposed temporarily pretending to give up on banning handguns and go after “assault weapons” instead, to reinvigorate the anti-gun lobby.

In a recent op-ed for, Sugarmann showed his aspirations to ban handguns and semi-automatic rifles to an even further extent, claiming that modern gun violence is shaped by “a combination of semi-auto firearms (and) detachable magazines, and it ranges from high-capacity istols to semi-automatic assault rifles.” According to Sugarmanns conclusions, the answer is to “ratchet down the firepower in civilian hands,” taking so-called assault weapons off the gun store shelves and also banning handguns.

We knew this moment was coming in due time, since Sugarmann admitted in 1988 that “assault weapons” are “difficult to define in legal terms.” When Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) federal “assault weapon” ban from 1994 to 2004 failed to stop more than 730,000 AR-15 from being produced because they did not meet the qualifications of an “assault weapon” under the ban.

Sugarmann knew from the start that Feinstein’s ban would be a failure, but he pretended otherwise for political reasons. His group claimed, in 1995, that the assault weapon ban had “turned off the spigot that for more than a decade has flooded the nation’s streets with these weapons of war.”

Fast-forward to 2004, though, as the “ban’s” expiration was looming, and VPC changed its tune. Now, the VPC complained, it was clear that Feinstein’s ban was a ban only in name, and that it had serious flaws to it. They even went so far as to call it a “fictional ban.” The restrictions proposed by Rep. Carolyn McCarth (D-NY), the group said, would be much more effective.

Sugarmann believes that any weapon that can accept any sort of external magazine is a danger, because he knows that any firearm that can accept a “small” magazine can also accept a “large” magazine. This is why he thinks all firearms that can accept an external magazine should be banned; banning firearms that can “accept” large magazines means, by necessity, banning anything that accepts any magazine.

So, how does Sugarmann plan to get around the Second Amendment? In plain terms, Sugarmann proposes that handgun owners should be limited to revolvers. He claims that America would be immune to gun violence crimes like the one in Santa Barbara if gun owners were limited to revolvers.

Would that be the end of his efforts, though? After all, competitive shooters have already proven that a revolver can be fired and reloaded as fast as a pistol can, and a recent study has concluded that “gunshot injury incidents involving pistols were less likely to produce a death than were those involving revolvers.” Makes you stop and think, doesn’t it, that Sugarmann would take a success against semi-automatic pistols as encouragement to go after revolvers next.

Sugarmann’s ideas might seem like the dream of one isolated activist, but lest we not forget: VPC is a tiny anti-gun cell of activists that gets millions of dollars each year from the Joyce Foundation to push gun control measures. This radical group, if unchallenged, could turn out to seem almost mainstream to courts, legislators and the general public.


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