Congress is desperately trying to resurrect a carcass of the 1990s. Democrats want to bring back their so-called assault weapons ban but pack it with more added restrictions this go-around. In fact, U.S. Rep. Dan Bishop, R-9th District, had a revealing exchange with New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, where the latter admitted that the point of the bill is to ban a host of weapons in everyday use today. 

The bill, expected to receive a floor vote in August, is about disarming Americans, classifying them more as serfs and not citizens. Regardless of some good intentions for public safety, it’s yet another piece of gun legislation that gives criminals and the government the upper hand over law-abiding citizens. 

Even U.S. Senator John Cornyn, R-Texas, who gleefully spearheaded the most recent gun control compromise, denounced the bill. “So-called ‘assault rifles’ are semiautomatic firearms,” wrote Cornyn. “Firing mechanism essentially the same as a semiautomatic pistol and shotgun. They should be honest: Democrats want to disarm law-abiding citizens while doing little about crime and undermining the police.” Cornyn’s right. Simply banning weapons based primarily on aesthetic characteristics serves no useful purpose except to take guns away from the citizenry.  

The 1994 ‘assault weapons’ promised a reduction in gun violence and crime. Yet, tough sentencing laws and pro-active policing brought down the crime rate. A 2004 U.S. Department of Justice report noted that renewing the ‘assault weapons’ ban makes little sense. According to the report, the magazine capacity limits and banning certain classes of semiautomatic weapons “is likely to be small at best, and perhaps too small for reliable measurement” to impact gun violence. The ban expired soon after the Department of Justice findings.

“HR 1808 represents the latest over-reach by congressional Democrats seeking to incrementally end the private ownership of firearms,” declares Grass Roots North Carolina President Paul Valone. “By using a draconian ‘one feature’ test rather than the ‘two feature’ test of the 1994 ban on semiautomatic firearms, it would ban something as simple as a Ruger .22 pistol if it happened to have a threaded barrel, which is commonly used for attaching a muzzle brake or other device. Equally egregious is its ban on magazines holding more than ten rounds, severely limiting the ability of lawful citizens to use firearms for self-defense precisely when Democrat policies are causing an explosion of urban homicide.” 

The ‘one feature’ test simply means that if a particular firearm has a single feature like a barrel shroud or telescoping stocks, it will fall under the ban. Valone and others believe that even if passed into law, the Supreme Court will probably strike it down as unconstitutional, particularly given the recent Bruen decision. 

Still, the Constitution continues to prove to be meaningless in the minds of the aggressive gun-grabbing crowd. President Biden himself mindlessly reads from the teleprompter, “You can’t be on the side of the police” if you oppose this bill. Yet, a new Quinnipiac Poll, even with relentless media cheerleading for gun control, reveals that 49% of Americans support an ‘assault weapons’ ban. The bill has morphed into a behemoth for banning tens of millions of guns that already exist for the sake of rewarding anti-Second Amendment donors who lavishly spend to elect Democrats intent on seizing firearms. 

It’s time to focus less on running afoul of inherent rights and banning legal weapons and instead look to practical solutions to crime and gun violence. The overwhelming majority of gun crimes are committed with handguns by criminals who already possess them illegally. Cities with the highest crime rates are usually the hardest places to buy guns in America. We should reject further proposals that narrowly focus on criminalizing law-abiding citizens for the illusion of safety. 

The Americans legally accessing firearms remind us that the American Founders got it right the first time with our Second Amendment. People want to protect themselves from criminals and even the government if it becomes tyrannical. This protection was included in our Bill of Rights for the simple reason that it’s a right that predates American constitutional theory itself. 

Ray Nothstine is Carolina Journal opinion editor and Second Amendment research fellow at the John Locke Foundation.