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Hunting Rifle Ban Introduced as "Sniper Rifle" Ban

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) is one of the most irrationally anti-gun members of the U.S. House of Representatives. For example, in 1993, when the House voted 424-4 to require a law enforcement agency to explain to a person why it rejected that person's handgun purchase under the former federal waiting period law, Moran was one of the four who voted against the measure. In Moran's mind, anyone who wants to buy a gun doesn't deserve to be treated fairly.

Today, Moran is doing the anti-gun lobbies' bidding on one of their latest gun-ban schemes. On February 8, he introduced H.R. 654, which he calls the ".50 Caliber Sniper Rifle Reduction Act." As with other "gun control" bills, the name doesn't accurately reflect the bill's fine print. The bill:

  • Bans all .50 caliber hunting rifles. It invents the term, ".50 caliber sniper weapon," and then defines it to include any rifle "capable of firing a center-fire cartridge in 50 caliber, .50 BMG caliber, any other variant of 50 caliber, or any metric equivalent of such calibers." In addition to rifles that use the venerable .50 Browning cartridge, many other .50 caliber rifles would fall under that broad definition. Such rifles, all designed and/or widely used for hunting, were invented between the 1860s and 1970s.
  • Requires gun registration of all lawfully-owned .50 caliber rifles. The bill would subject all .50 caliber rifles to the National Firearms Act (NFA), to regulate them in the same way as machine guns.
  • Bans manually-loaded rifles--single-shots, double rifles, pump-actions, and bolt-actions. Most .50 caliber rifles, including .50 Brownings, are of manual-loading type. Single shots hold only one round of ammunition, double rifles hold two, and pumps and bolt-actions hold only several.
  • Prohibits a lawful owner of a .50 caliber rifle from selling it. The bill would allow a current owner to keep his rifle, if he registers it with BATFE under the provisions of the NFA. But the bill would prohibit selling a lawfully-owned .50 caliber rifle to anyone, despite the strict controls of the NFA, which include an FBI background check on a prospective buyer.
  • Prohibits a lawful owner from passing a .50 caliber rifle to a family member as part of an inheritance. The prohibition on subsequent transfer has no exceptions.
  • Sets the stage for an even wider gun ban. If guns can be arbitrarily banned according to the mere diameter of the bullet, what is to prevent banning guns that use smaller bullets than .50 caliber? The anti-gun group that conceived the idea of a ban on .50 caliber rifles has already proposed banning .30 caliber rifles as "intermediate sniper rifles." International gun-ban activist Rebecca Peters has even proposed banning rifles that can shoot 100 meters--;that is, all rifles, since all rifles can shoot that distance.
.50 Caliber Rifles


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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.