People Killers and the refusal to act
In 1934 the U.S. House and Senate passed, and President Roosevelt signed, the National Firearms Act (1934 NFA). The Act did not make it illegal for a private citizen to own any firearm or accessory. Instead, it requires a complex, time consuming registration process and a one-time tax ($200 at the time—and still today) for a private citizen to own a weapon that would fire more than one cartridge when the trigger is held down (i.e. an “automatic” weapon, aka a machine gun or submachine gun), as well as certain modified weapons and silencers (sound suppressors). In major part, the 1934 NFA was passed in response to the murderous use by gangsters (civilians) of the military weapon pictured below, the 1921 Thompson submachine gun, a weapon originally designed for use in World War I trench warfare. (It was nicknamed “the trench broom”.)
The Thompson (without a magazine) weighs a massive eleven pounds. It fires a pistol cartridge (.45 ACP = .45 inch in diameter Automatic Colt Pistol cartridge). It has minimal accuracy beyond about 30 yards. In full automatic mode it fires off all thirty or fifty cartridges in its magazine in less than ten seconds. On account of its geometry the weapon has a tendency to climb in the course of a firing burst—it is a challenge to keep it on target—especially for the novice user.
As a people killing machine, the still-taxed-and-heavily-regulated Thompson submachine gun is positively primitive by comparison to modern assault weapons like the AR-15 pictured below.
The AR-15 weighs around six pounds, half the weight of the Thompson. It fires a rifle cartridge (.223 Remington) semi-automatically (each shot requires only a quick pull on the trigger). Detachable magazines holding fifty cartridges are easy to buy. The AR’s effective firing range is 500 yards, not 30. Because of its in-line geometry it has almost no tendency to climb with each shot. Given its light weight and controllability, even a child with minimal training from a youtube video can use such a weapon with devastating effect. State regulations vary, but in many states most folks eighteen or older can buy this or a similar people-killing machine quite readily, in contrast to the cost and regulatory hoops required to buy a Thompson submachine gun or any automatic weapon controlled under the 1934 NFA. Yet the real world mass people-killing capabilities of modern assault weapons far exceed any NFA-regulated weapon.
This is nuts. Where is our national will? It is thwarted by Republicans, including our very own Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-CD5, eastern Washington). In the face of yet another mass shooting, Republicans, beholden to the National Rifle Association and the firearms industry, once again offer “thoughts and prayers” and, in response to any talk of firearms or body armor restrictions, respond, “I don’t want to talk about that right now.” McMorris Rodgers dodges the question. She and her Republican compatriots, sold out to the power of the NRA, deflect behind supposed efforts to “keep guns out of the wrong hands” not by regulating guns or closing the gun show loophole (for background checks), but by claiming to support legislation to spur our tattered health care system to detect and report the potentially violent mentally ill to law enforcement before they buy weapons and kill. That is pie in the sky BS, but it is what she offers.
If we are again faced with a Republican House majority, a Republican Senate, and a Republican President be assured that McMorris Rodgers will neither co-sponsor nor vote for any sort regulation of weapons of war. She will, instead, work to make weapons and items of warfare like silencers easier to buy, carry, and brandish, just like she did with the bills she lauded and voted for in 2017 (See here and here.)
If you wish to have action on closing the gun show loophole or regulating the ownership and sale of advanced people-killing technology far exceeding people-killing capability of the the fully automatic weapons we already regulate, then the only way is to vote McMorris Rodgers and other Republicans out of office. Otherwise prepare yourself for more “thoughts and prayers” and “my heart goes out to the victims and their parents”—and no action. Either of her (CMR’s) primary challengers this year, Natasha Hill or Ann Marie Danimus, will work on suitable legislation that McMorris Rodgers in congenitally incapable of even considering.
Keep to the high ground,