Letter Re: California as a Precursor: Thoughts on Feinstein’s Ban Bill

First, I must mention that the Feinstein bill is remarkably similar to what we live with already in California, other than some additional models being added and some language changes. With all of Feinstein and colleague’s rhetoric about the California bullet button loophole, I notice that in her Federally proposed bill, if you have a fixed magazine (al la the California bullet button feature, which makes the magazine fixed) your (military) features are not limited. You are, however, limited to a 10 round fixed magazine capacity. Once you have a removable magazine, the “Military” (scary looking) features come into play. I would have thought the great Feinstein would have modified her legislation to include the removal of the bullet button exemption as she is threatening to do in California. It kinda makes the case that her goal is total disarmament through incremental legislation.

Second, regarding the article about the Iowa cops purchasing their own AR to protect the public, we have been doing this in California for some time now. Officers are permitted to purchase a AR type firearm with the authorization of their department head (Sheriff or Chief) and for law enforcement purposes. These firearms are required to be registered with the California DOJ. Initially officers were told that since the firearms were lawfully obtained and registered, they would be treated like pre ban firearms and individual officers would be allowed to keep upon their honorable retirement. California Governor Moonbeam (Brown) was the California Attorney General when a San Diego Sheriff asked for an opinion as to whether officers were allowed to keep their personally purchased firearms upon their retirement. It was the then Attorney General Moonbeam’s opinion that officers may not keep their personally owned “assault weapons’ since they no longer served a law enforcement purpose. Attorney General Moonbeam cited several examples of case law in support of his opinion; Silveira v. Lockyer2002, The District of Columbia v. Heller 2008 and McDonald v. Chicago 2010, all of which, as I understand it, have been overturned.
Third, it was not long ago that law enforcement officials were clamoring (and rightly so) for weaponry at least equal to that of many criminals. Their cry was for semi automatic pistols with “normal capacity” magazines and semiautomatic rifles with “normal capacity” magazines. The public overwhelmingly supported this upgrade. It is no surprise that law enforcement settled on some of the most reliable, proven and popular firearms in the industry and whose magazine capacities ranged from 12 to 30 rounds. These firearms consisted of SIGs, Glocks and S&Ws to name a few as well as the most popular rifle in the United States, the venerable AR-15 style rifle, the civilian version of the military “Assault Rifle.” My question is; has the criminal element become any less armed or dangerous to the highly trained and coordinated law enforcement response? Criminals, particularly organized street and outlaw gangs are often better armed and more coordinated than ever. Since a highly trained and coordinated police response requires these tools to effectively protect themselves and their communities, would it not stand to reason that a lesser trained (but safe and responsible) civilian who is likely on his own (remember, when seconds count , the police are but minutes away, not a slam, just a fact) would not require the option of similar tools when confronting the violent actions of others? During my tenure as a metropolitan LEO (30+ years, most of it on the street) I have learned that when committing serious crimes, criminals often, even typically, operate in teams. I have also seen subjects sustain multiple gunshot wounds and walk, on their own power, to an ambulance. The idea that one is able to consistently and effectively protect himself or herself with 5, 7 or even 10 rounds is simply not supportable by facts. If a victim has a 30 round capability, their obligation is to engage a suspect(S) until the suspects stop their assault. Having that 30 round capacity gives the victim “Options” in dealing with the threat. A victim is not required to use the entire magazine capacity, just that portion that proves to be effective. In my experience, lawful owners of firearms who have accepted the responsibility and obligations of firearm ownership are an asset and are typically reserved in the responsible deployment of their firearms as circumstances dictate.
Fourth, keeping firearms out of the hands of those who are irresponsible or incapable of good judgment should be our common goal. So how might this be accomplished? I see no reason why a national database of those who are not qualified to own or possess any firearm and should include relevant information from the mental health field, could not be effectively established and available to Law Enforcement and for background checks. The FFL dealer calls in the background check to the National Registry and receives a YES/NO response. The registry does not need to know or retain specific firearm information (with the exception of various restricted items), simply that an individual qualifies or not for the purchase. Of course there would be the ability to challenge the database information if one was disqualified unjustly. This system would generally accomplish the goals of keeping firearms from those who should not have them while safeguarding the legal and privacy rights of the millions of lawful firearms owners.
So where am I going with this? In California the controversy of honorably retired LEOs keeping their AR-15s has raised its head. Many firearms owners feel it unfair that LEOs are able to retain their “Assault Weapon” when they cannot. As I understand it, this is based on a right of equal protection. I get that and can support the concept. As lawful firearms owners generally and Californian firearms owners specifically, we should learn about incrementalism from those who would strip us of our rights. We should steadfastly support the second amendment rights of our responsible fellow citizens in all states. We should then support the idea that an honorable retired California LEO is “entitled” to keep his or her personal property. Once established we should use that same argument of a right of equal protection to increment California back to a free state where the second amendment is not infringed for any law abiding citizen. This is an inclusive strategy not an exclusive strategy. Many of you would be surprised that, once out of the major metro areas of California, the majority of the remainder of the state is very conservative. In the last election the liberal vote trumped the conservative vote by just a few percentage points. Yes, there is hope, even in California.
Last, as a thought, when we see police officials standing in the midst of those who would infringe our second amendment rights, you will rarely see a member of the rank and file. Under the auspices of community policing, crime is a community problem. The police are a tool of the community in addressing those problems. By the same token, the common tools and options available to community members who are in good standing should be at least as broad as those available to the trained and coordinated police response. – Scott M.