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Sen. Feinstein`s ".50 Caliber" Gun-Ban

Tuesday, September 25, 2001

Sen. Dianne Feinstein`s (D-Calif.) "Military Sniper Weapon Regulation Act" (S. 505) proposes to subject all ".50 caliber" center-fire rifles to the National Firearms Act (NFA), requiring owners to forfeit their rifles to the federal government. (It is illegal to possess an NFA firearm unless it has previously been registered to the owner by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.) The reasons to oppose the Senator`s latest gun-ban venture are numerous:

  • S. 505 would confiscate legally owned property. The bill makes no provision for owners of .50 caliber rifles to register them, in order to retain them legally under the NFA.
  • S. 505 would ban highly collectible antique arms. The .50 caliber center-fire rifles Sen. Feinstein would ban include many firearms made by manufacturers such as Winchester, Sharps and Maynard in the years immediately following the Civil War.
  • S. 505 proposes to solve a non-existent problem. Sen. Feinstein alleges that .50 caliber rifles are "a serious and substantial threat to the national security," claiming they could be used to destroy "armored vehicles and such components of the national critical infrastructure as radars and microwave transmission devices." Of course, while those kinds of things make good reading in a novel, they do not occur in America.
  • S. 505 undermines national defense. Civilian engineers, gunsmiths and marksmen have contributed significantly to national defense, leading the way in developing .50 caliber rifles used by the military. Attempts to legislate civilians out of their traditional role in developing military-related small arms and perfecting marksmanship with those arms threaten the competency of our Armed Forces.
  • S. 505 would ban rifles Sen. Feinstein once said she wanted to "protect." In her 1994 "assault weapon" law, Sen. Feinstein exempted from her ban certain rifles by name--she called them "recreational firearms" and "competition rifles," and, indeed, the Fifty Caliber Shooters` Ass` conducts target shooting matches, and a variety of .50 caliber rifles are used for hunting and very popular "cowboy action" target shooting events. Now, Sen. Feinstein wants to confiscate those very same firearms, in a classic case of a politician getting as much of a restriction as possible on the first try, then coming back for more on another day.

Sen. Feinstein regrets that her "assault weapon" law didn`t require people to turn their guns over to the police, saying on 60 Minutes: "If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it." Apparently, she`s still trying. Today, her target is .50 caliber rifles . . . tomorrow?

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