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Reply #50: Let me reply at some length... [View All]

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Home » Discuss » Topic Forums » Guns Donate to DU
benEzra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Jun-05-05 05:06 PM
Response to Reply #49
50. Let me reply at some length...
We are organizing a Second Amendment group in Ohio: "Sportsmen United". Essentially, we are adopting your national gun control policy and no AWB.

But our Board is locked in a disagreement over armor piercing bullets and high capacity clips. Can states act to ban or restrict these for demonstrable law enforcement purposes?


Most of our board believe states or localities should be empowered to act in these areas. After all, it is law enforcement which is leading the charge for regulation in some (but not all) jurisdictions.

After all, these bullets are designed for one thing: to pierce the Kevlar vests used by cops.

What the hell do we do with this issue?

Good questions, and I'll reply at some length if I may.

The first one is easy: handgun ammunition designed to pierce Kevlar vests that would otherwise be proof against that caliber is already restricted by Federal law. The story of that law may be found here: 1986 armor-piercing bullet law. FWIW, this law was passed with the support of the NRA. In 1991, the BATFE formally classified .223, 7.62x39, and .308 Winchester as "handgun rounds" for the purposes of the 1986 law, so solid-steel or tungsten-core ammunition in these calibers is also prohibited (which is why you can no longer buy the inexpensive Chinese steel-core 7.62x39).

Why weren't rifle rounds restricted? Because practically all centerfire rifle rounds will penetrate a Level II or IIIA vest (like most police wear) like it's not even there. Soft body armor is designed to stop handgun rounds only, not rifle rounds. To stop rifle rounds, you need hard body armor (usually a composite of ceramic or steel and Kevlar); hard body armor is generally Level III (rated to stop multiple hits from low- to intermediate-powered rifles like .223, 7.62x39, etc. up through .308 or possibly .30-06 non-AP) or Level IV (rated to stop .30-06 tungsten-core armor piercing, e.g. U.S. military M2 ball).

To see what I mean, see this article: Fatal Bullet Pierced Kevlar Vest. The weapon was a .30-30 Winchester rifle, a cartridge dating to the late 1800's and usually chambered in "cowboy style" guns like the Winchester Model 94. Any "performance based" standard for rifle ammunition is going to run squarely into this fact--there is hardly a centerfire rifle in this country that won't penetrate Kevlar.

Hence, in my opinion, the "armor piercing bullets" issue is a red herring. Armor piercing handgun rounds are already restricted, and armor-piercing rifle rounds per se are more or less irrelevant since (1) rifles can already penetrate Level II and IIIA armor even with softpoint hunting loads and (2) the most commonly AP-available calibers are already restricted (.223, 7.62x39, .308). So basically you are down to arguing over whether surplus .30-06 M2 ball should be banned. Somehow I don't foresee many criminals running around with M1 Garands stuffed in their waistbands anyway, so I don't see it as anywhere near the issue it has been made out to be. It's moot for criminals toting handguns, and doesn't give the odd criminal with a rifle any significant enhanced capability.

Also, if anyone brings up the FN FiveSeven pistol, both the BATFE and the Fraternal Order of Police have issued press releases saying the 5.7x28 will NOT penetrate police body armor with civilian-legal ammunition. The Brady Campaign put out a video purportedly showing that it would, BUT the video only shows it penetrating an obsolete Level IIA vest (which is not even rated to stop .357 magnum).

The NRA position is, of course, no regulation at all.

Actually, the NRA's position is generally opposition to yet more regulation piled on top of the law-abiding, rather than opposition to all regulation. The NRA supports the National Firearms Act, most of the Gun Control Act of 1968, the 1986 "cop killer bullet" law, the ban on hypothetical handguns that might not show up on X-ray, the mandatory NCIS background check for purchasing a gun from any dealer, etc. etc. "No regulation at all" is certainly the straw man the anti-gun lobby sets up to burn in effigy, but it doesn't describe the NRA's actual positions at all, IMO.

Let's face it, the NRA leaders are Republican supporters and operatives first and gun advocates second, if at all. Even if a Democratic candidate scores a 100% NRA record, the NRA leadership will still do whatever is in their power to undermine them and support the Republican in the race.

I'm not sure about Ohio, but in most states the NRA has been eager to endorse pro-gun Dems, if for no other reason than to deflect the charge that they are stooges for the repubs. Here's the first page of NRA endorsements for state offices here in NC for the 2004 election:

Governor--Mike Easley, Democrat (endorsed over "A" rated Repub)
Lt. Governor--Beverly Perdue, Democrat
Attorney General--Roy Cooper, Democrat (endorsed over a pro-gun repub)

State Senate
District 1--Marc Basnight, Democrat
District 2--Scott Thomas, Democrat (endorsed over "A" rated repub)
District 3--Clark Jenkins, Democrat
District 4--Robert Holloman, Democrat (unopposed)
District 5--no endorsement
District 6--Cecil Hargett, Jr., Democrat (over "A" rated repub)
District 7--no endorsement
District 8--R.C. Soles, Jr., Democrat

They endorsed some repubs too, but reading down the list, it appears to me that they are quite willing to endorse truly pro-gun Dems, which we have a lot of here in NC. BTW, Governor Easley is still our governor (he easily beat the repub 55%/45%, even though NC went against the presidential ticket by roughly the same margin).

high capacity clips

I'll discuss this one separately so as not to clutter up the AP discussion above.

The prohibitionist lobby generally defines anything holding over 10 rounds (5 rounds for shotguns) as "high capacity." I personally feel that this is a ridiculously low limit. The defensive handguns carried by most police officers hold 13 to 17 rounds, and they often carry another 30 rounds or so ready to go on their duty belt. Standard capacity for some of the most popular civilian nonhunting rifles is 30 rounds.

I have no problem with capacity limits for hunting rifles while the person is actually engaged in the act of hunting, but most gun owners aren't hunters, so imposing hunting-regulation capacities on a nonhunter's defensive handgun, rifle, or shotgun will definitely be met with much resistance. The magazine capacity limit was one of the most-hated aspects of the now-defunct Feinstein ban, because it drove prices for replacement magazines for popular handguns through the roof (my wife paid over $100 for a 15-round Glock magazine around 1996 or so).

Anecdotally--my wife's home-defense handgun is a Glock 9mm with a 15-round magazine. If, heaven forbid, she is ever confronted by violent intruder(s), the only ammunition she will have is the ammunition already in her gun. Since standard-pressure 9mm is relatively low-powered (0.5 kJ) and she's not particularly comfortable shooting +P loads in that gun, she would rather not be restricted to only 10 rounds if she felt threatened. There's also the concept of reserve capacity; there's no penalty for leaving unfired ammunition in your magazine, but there's a big penalty for running out of ammunition if somebody is trying to kill you... So I don't think allowing her to keep her 15-round magazine is unreasonable. And based on surveys of gun owners, self- or home-defense is the #1 reason why America's 65 to 80 million legal gun owners own firearms, so there are probably a lot of people out there that would agree.

As far as theoretical crime benefit, most shootings by criminals involve an average of 2.5 rounds fired, IIRC. Even if you could somehow make all over-10-round magazines disappear and make possession of them punishable by life in prison, I don't think you'd see any change in the crime statistics. Last time I checked, the #1 gun used in crimes per the BATFE Top Ten list was the .38/.357 caliber revolver, which is generally a 5- to 7-shot firearm. And even for mass shootings, magazine capacity hasn't really correlated with number of fatalities (compare the Patrick Purdy and Gang Lu shootings, for two examples).

And let me speak personally: for my favorite rifle, I have magazines of 5, 10, 20, 30, and 40 rounds capacity. I would definitely vote against anyone who tried to take from me the right to own them, to purchase replacements, or to transfer them to my children when they are of age.

In my opinion, laws that target criminal misuse of any gun are the way to go, not laws that seek to place more and more limits on the types of guns that may be owned by law-abiding voters.
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