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Columns : Editorial

Assault Weapons Ban: A Cure That Could Kill

The proposed federal Assault Weapons Ban has the potential to disarm public safety personnel.

February 04, 2013  |  by - Also by this author

Photo: Kelly Bracken
Photo: Kelly Bracken

Lost in all the storm and fury over the proposed federal Assault Weapons Ban is the effects that these measures will have on the men and women responsible for maintaining public safety.

For proof of how dangerous it can be to rush gun control legislation into law, all you have to do is look at New York. Last month the Empire State passed a law that will ban the sale of so-called "assault weapons" and criminalize the possession of pistol and rifle magazines of more than seven rounds. But in their rush to punish law-abiding gun owners for the actions of the criminally insane, the New York legislators and the governor didn't realize that they were causing a lot of unnecessary confusion for law enforcement.

The Draconian New York "gun safety" law, which takes effect in March, does not specifically exempt LEOs. Which has made every cop, deputy, trooper, and agent in the state wonder if he or she will be in violation when the new law goes into effect. Existing law has now been interpreted to provide an exemption for LEOs that would carry over into the new law.

But questions still remain. No one is quite sure how the New York law affects retired officers who have a federal right to carry concealed handguns under the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act of 2004. And I have it on good authority that the law has no provision to exempt private security.

At first glance, you may think something that affects private security is not a big issue. After all, who cares if a bunch of "mall cops" are restricted to seven-round mags?

Some security guards and private security officers are indeed "mall cops;" others, however, are the first line of armed response at nuclear power stations, chemical plants, oil refineries, and other critical pieces of infrastructure. Imagine that you are one of these highly trained civilian security professionals and you don't know whether possession of the magazine in your handgun constitutes a misdemeanor. This is what happens when people rush gun control legislation into law.

So what happens if the new federal gun safety act proposed by Sen. Diane Feinstein becomes law? I don't know. But I can make an educated guess. I believe it will make procurement of patrol rifles a lot more difficult for the average cop. Follow along with me for a moment.

Walking around the recent Shooting Hunting and Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas a few weeks ago, I started thinking about what a new and permanent assault weapon ban might mean for the gun industry. In a word: Devastation.

There are dozens of small to mid-size companies that do nothing but produce what the industry refers to as "modern sporting rifles" and parts for "modern sporting rifles." These are the ARs and other semi-automatic versions of rifles that gun control advocates refer to as "assault weapons." Very few of these companies can survive an assault weapon ban.

That means the number of sources for police patrol rifles will dry up. But the demand for these weapons by law enforcement officers will remain steady. I'm no economist, but I believe that is the formula for radical price increases.

Some of you who work for certain well-heeled agencies probably don't see that as a big concern. You don't worry about the price of equipment because the agency gives you what you need.

That's great for you. But most police in this country work for agencies with fewer than 10 officers, and the officers who work for such small agencies pretty much have to buy their own gear.

What that means is when a sergeant approaches the chief of Smallville PD and says that the department needs a patrol rifle, the chief will say, "Great. You want one, you pay for it. We don't have the budget for it. But I'll authorize you to carry it when you qualify with it." So the sergeant or the senior officer who sees a tactical need for a patrol rifle goes out and buys an AR out of pocket from one of the dozens of vendors that make such rifles.

If the assault weapons ban becomes law, that small agency sergeant is not going to be able to afford that rifle anymore. It will only be available from the companies that make such a gun in mass quantities for the military, and they will have a captive market. These companies may not even make semi-auto versions anymore. Which means the concept of patrol rifles on a lot of agencies may fade away because few chiefs will want their officers carrying "machine guns."

This is why the proposed federal Assault Weapons Ban, which is supposed to curtail mass shootings, could be very bad for law enforcement officers. It may take the tools you need to protect the public from active shooters right out of your hands.


New York Bans Semi-Auto Rifles, High-Cap Magazines

Gun Rights: Keep Up the Fight

Comments (21)

Displaying 1 - 21 of 21

Gary @ 2/5/2013 6:08 PM

And if I understand some of the newly proposed laws, the officer must leave the rifle or handgun with the department when he retires, quits, etc

Tom Ret @ 2/5/2013 6:33 PM

Call me skeptical, but I doubt the governor's security element is restricted to 7 round magazines. So is the governor a fool for having them abide by this rule or a hypocrite by exempting them from the law? How say you governor? Of course, all of us who have some experience and common sense, know that the criminals will not abide by this silly law.

Marty Hayes @ 2/5/2013 6:35 PM

If I were still an LEO, I would be more worried about the law of unintended consequences, especially if a law requiring registration, (which ultimately leads to confiscation) is also passed. I would not want to enforce a law requiring registration of firearms. I have a pretty good pulse on the mood of the armed citizen, and many, many people would view this act as a final act of tyranny, and would defend their right to keep and bear arms with their lives. Eventually, a law such as this would lead to full scale civil unrest, and lots of bloodshed.

Ferret @ 2/5/2013 6:52 PM

Easy, just jump the boarder and buy what you need - no questions, on records, no limit - only restrictions are cash and getting it home...

Rob @ 2/5/2013 6:55 PM

The AR15 is the logical evolution of the "fast" reloading smooth bore musket that individual militia members were required to have on hand and report with when called out to drill or for duty in post (and even pre) revolution America. I do not think there will be a Feinstein ban during the next two years. What happens after 2014 depends on the strength of will of good people to make our republican democracy work.

John @ 2/5/2013 7:03 PM

Are there any armed mall guards in Washington State? Cascade Mall guards in Burlington were briefly armed in years past, but I don't know if they carry any weapons (impact or chemical) now.

Why would law enforcement officers need assault rifles and higher capacity (10+) magazines? If a law is passed banning these items for civilians then criminals will stop using them. Hell, maybe the government should now ban all forms violence. Then the police will not need any weapons at all.

DEADMAN @ 2/5/2013 7:06 PM

I think that we should do several thing in response to NY and obama,stop patronizing anything in ny,no more ny casinos,no more broadway shows or plays,no more tv shows portrayed in ny,nomore products made in ny,yeah,Remington will have to move,no more 1000 jobs.No more flying thru ny,or trains or buses,boycott anything ny.Have all police officers,sheriffs deputys and state troopers stop appearing on the news,in magazine photos,and newspapers with obama,maybe they passed the law the way it is in ny to keep semi-auto rifles out of the hands of the police authorities that might shield the citizens against any troops coming into their state to confiscate weapons.Grow a pair and hire a lawyer to get an injunction against appearing with him because it is a political appearance and i believe most departments have rules and regulations against appearing in uniform for any political purpose.He is trying to take away your rights also,grow a pair,you are being used by obama your chief and your city,don't do it.

Jim A @ 2/5/2013 7:14 PM

Idiots call for gun control. Practical thinkers call for people control. No gun, no magazine, no bullet has ever gone on a rampage on their own. If you control the person, all else is good. We don't blame cars when a person drives into a crowd deliberately. We do not blame knifes. We do not blame dynamite. So treat crime, not inanimate objects, but our society is not doing that. Our courts are not doing that. And liberals are using this as an excuse to take away a constitutional right. They say, "There were only muskets when the Second Amendment to the Constitution was written - not AR-15s". I say, there was no radio, TV, phones, texting, and internet when the First Amendment was written! We are not saying the First Amendment is invalid, so they cannot say the Second Amendment is invalid and not timely.

Liberalism is killing our country. Plain and simple. We, as a society, are becoming more and more liberal all the time. We are led by the nose by the liberal media. It has nothing to do necessarily with Democrats vs. Republicans. We used to think for ourselves, take care of ourselves, stand on our own, and stand up for each other. Now, we expect the government to do all of that for us. This is all so sad.

Capt. Crunch @ 2/5/2013 7:35 PM

Mybe the Police Departments would be able to have a contract with the National Guard, and lease the weapons from them and that should take care of most of the money problem.

Joel Paslay @ 2/5/2013 8:20 PM

I'm a project manager for a bunch of "security guards" and guess what? They almost all are retired police. I even employe one retired Secret Service Agent so be careful when you say they all are mall cops! We are not! We are required to have more training than POST in our state.

Ray from Bloombergia @ 2/6/2013 1:08 AM

Ronnie Barrett had the right answer. When CA banned his Light Fifty for civvies he told them he'd NEVER sell another to the CA state police or SWAT teams and from now on they can go scratch if they need service UNTIL the public can buy them. I want to see Glock, S&W, Springfield, Colt and all the VEST makers do the same until the chiefs get their snouts out of the butts of the various mayors. Especially that turd in Chicago who said he's training his cops to shoot LEGAL concealed carry holders in the street.

Johnny @ 2/6/2013 4:42 AM

Is it just me, or is this country starting to look more and more like a nation embracing communist ideas. I guess that's what happens when you have a foreigner for a U.S. president.

njmotorcop @ 2/6/2013 6:14 AM

Ray from Bloombergia has it right! We need some solidarity and common sense from the gun, ammo, and equipment manufacturers. There are a lot of gun and equipment manufacturers in NY. Don't sell to the corrupt states and move all of your facilities out of them!

Frank @ 2/6/2013 10:56 AM

@ Deadman, Your correct I like your thinking. Obama started the Wildfire across this nation on Guns. He spouts off and all the State politicians bow and concur. What about Fort Hood and Nidal Malik Hasan shot and killed a dozen military personnel, one civilian and one unborn child at Fort Hood. Surely these 14 people were also victims of gun violence not violence in the workplace. Does the media mention this? Why would PD's staff be reduced at such a crucial time with no jobs and high crime rates across the USA? Just can't wait for the Administration to open the gates for 11 million new illegals.

Driverx @ 2/6/2013 5:48 PM

Officers remember your OATH... Defend the Constitution and the Citizens of this Nation. Protect the Constitution. This is a plan well thought out. Very few people will have homes raided. It will be done in a way to break the peoples backs. Slowly, people will be flagged in the computer systems. When stopped, they will be arrested and classified as domestic terrorists. Their property, assets, and finances will be seized. LEO's will be pawns enforcing unjust laws. REMEMBER YOUR OATHS

TK @ 2/7/2013 5:14 PM

I am curious what people think about the backdrop of DHS purchasing 1.63 billion rounds of ammo over the last 12 mths or so. The DHS focus has quickly gone from them Muslim terrorists to what they view as a homegrown variety. Nobody talks about the massive DHS build-up.

John Russell @ 2/8/2013 12:31 PM

This man is absolutely right and I agree 100%...DO NOT LET LEGISLATURES disarm you from the very TOOLS you need to survive?

John Russell @ 2/8/2013 12:38 PM

YOU know it's utter SAD and pathetic when SOUTH AMERICA has BOPE with better RIFLES and GEAR than most LEO's on the street of USA. Even MEXICO actually manufactures it's own Military firearm. I myself think H&K Germany and of course Austria has the right mentality and look at the crime rate there ? VERY VERY LOW!

GAP @ 2/14/2013 8:17 PM

Welcome to Australia LEO's. I always thought we were becoming the 51st State of America, now I see you're becoming the 10th State of OZ. Our managers believe we can hold back the tides with a handgun and a swat team stationed 550 kilometres away. You only have to look on Used Guns to see how effective Howard's gun buy back was.

mks @ 2/16/2013 8:47 PM

John Russell: Austria is also under liberal attack. The crime rate in Austria is soaring and the country is already on the second place in regard to violent crimes (in the EU). Most Europeans dislike the EU, in fact it is a (liberal) trojan horse organization.
There seems to be a shadow cooperation behind the peoples back between the US and the EU government. The USA is used to make war all over the world, and people all over the world flee or use the situation to come to Europe and then try to stay forever abusing the liberal social system. Not few of them fantasize of creating a islamic caliphate out of Europe. All government sponsored.

Some years ago here in Austria, after a kid did run amok (at least the media said this), a lot of weapons have been banned. For example all Shotguns are prohibited now. If you want to have a weapon, even a simple rifle, you have to register and background checks are made. You also have to state why you need a gun. After you have one, at least every 5 years, police officers come to your home and check your gun, which must be stored in a gun-safe. Within this time you also have to make a official shooting exercise to keep the gun permission. This are the basics, if you want to keep a gun at home.
If you want to carry a gun, then you need a special permission, for which you need a special reason like working for a cash transport company. Otherwise, no carry permission.
The gun violence is low here but it always was. The criminals (according to official statistics-mostly immigrants) use hit and run tactics, knifes and sometimes illegal guns - and no legal gun to stop them is around. A lot of old ladies get injured seriously, when hitting the ground after criminals try to grab their handbag. In general more and more older people - the most defenseless victims- get scammed and even murdered here. If you can get a legal weapon in Austria, you are under observation.
A blueprint for the US? Better don't back down an inch over there.

SG Warren @ 4/14/2013 9:46 AM

I've got to question the validity of the above two posts.

Australia has a firearm homicide of 0.09 per 100,000 per year.
Austria has a firearm homicide of 0.18 per 100,000 per year.
Compare those to the USA's 3.2 per 100,000 per year.

That's right you are about 20 times as likely to be murdered by a firearm in the USA than in Austria and 40 times as likely as in Australia.

Since Australia brought in its ban on semi-automatic firearms in the late 90's and also introduced very restrictive laws on the storage and transport of handguns the percentage of murders committed with firearms has dropped from 30% to 15% and the overall murder rate has dropped from 1.9 per 100,000 to 0.9 per 100,000.

Suicide rates are also massively lower as gun suicides drastically reduced and weren't replaced with other forms of suicide.

The only mass-shooting since the initial shooting that caused our government to introduce the ban in the first place was when a member of a gun club who brought 7 pistols to his university and started shooting up his class. Since both guns magazines were low capacity, he only managed to kill two people and wound 5 before he was tackled as he tried to change weapons.

Of course maybe the ban did nothing and we all just became happier people here. But I doubt it. ;)

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