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A Brief Monograph on the Second Amendment, Firearm laws and the Gun Culture

October 18, 2015
By John Moore.
Homicide Detective, Vietnam Veteran, Author,
Former candidate for U.S. Congress, NRA Certified Firearms Instructor


Common Misconceptions & Beliefs About Weapons & The Law

Contrary to popular (and quite wrong) beliefs, ordinary American citizens can (and do) own rocket launchers, fully functional (including the main gun) tanks, helicopter gunships, and real machine guns. I find it a bit sad to see someone humiliate themselves by posting a link to a Wikipedia article to "prove" what a "high-caliber assault weapon" is when that very same article shows the opposite of what the poster had hoped to prove. More specifically (as stated at Wikipedia) an "assault weapon" must be select fire i.e. have a control mechanism to choose semi-automatic, or full automatic fire. The common, semi-automatic only, AR-15 platform rifles that the ignorant call assault weapons simply aren't. Yes, they're black. Yes, they look quite menacing. Yes, to the untrained eye they look like assault weapons, but they aren't..

The U.S. Constitution, U.S. Federal Code & the Militia

The Second Amendment of the United States Constitution does not (as do any of the first ten amendments) grant any rights. Rather, they exist to protect the pre-existing rights of the existing 13 colonies, as understood by the framers. Several of the colony's were simply not going to sign off on this new constitution until these ten amendments to protect their pre-existing rights were added to this document.

That said, nearly all observers agree that the right of the Militia to keep and bear arms is a protected right. In case you don't know it, the words" Militia" and "People" as used in the Second Amendment are synonyms. You may not understand this, or like it, but read on.

The Federal Law as of the Fall of 2015 at {U.S. Code, Title 10, Section 313} tells us that the Federal Militia is "All able bodied men age 17 to 45". Many mistakenly believe that when the National Guard was created, early in the 20th Century, that it took the place of the Militia and therefore, the Militia (as mentioned in the Second Amendment) no longer exists. No ladies and Gentlemen, like it or not, the Federal Militia still is a known, well defined and legal entity today, right now, as you're reading this.

Ironically, even most pro-gun authors and publications ignore the Federal Code. Once one understands that the Militia still exists, is there anywhere else the debate can go except to accept current, existing Federal law, backed up the the U.S. Constitution as the end of the discussion and admitting it's time to move on to something else?

In addition, all 50 states have (by state statute) State Militia's. Typically, the State Militias are all men and women 17 to 60 y.o.a. As a side note many of the state's are re-forming their State Militia's for the first time in more than a century. The reason? These never-ending war's the past 15 years have drained the National Guard units of men and equipment to the point where the National Guard's response for floods, tornadoes and hurricanes is dramatically compromised.

The BATFE is charged with enforcing Federal Gun Laws. When it comes to Federal gun Laws, the majority of the day-to-day activity involves the "Gun Control Act of 1968". As you might have guessed, Congress debated and passed this legislation in 1968. I was surprised and shocked to learn that the Gun Control Act of 1968 is a virtual word for word English translation of the 1938 Nazi Gun Laws.
The book offering the provable evidence is "Gun Control-Gateway to Tyranny" published by the Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership (WWW.JPFO.ORG) The authors very thoughtfully published the original German text (1938 German Gun Laws), then on the next page an English translation of the same page side-by-side with the corresponding page from the Gun Control Act of 1968. This legislation was introduced by Senator Thomas Dodd (D, CT). In the Spring of 1968 Senator Dodd requested from the Library of Congress an English translation of the 1938 Nazi Gun Laws. This he took (with very little editing to make it apply to the USA) and submitted to Congress as the "Gun Act of 1968". Read it for yourself, it's a massive wake-up call as to the true foundation for our Federal Gun Laws.

Machine Guns

There are approximately 1/4 million legally owned machine guns privately owned by ordinary, private, American citizens. These are known as "Class III" weapons. Any private citizen (in about 36 state's) who can purchase a .22 rifle at Walmart can probably purchase a machine gun, if they choose to do so. There are forms to fill out, a transfer tax and fairly strict conditions attached, but not really a big deal. Please note: It's not a leap in logic to look around the world and observe that one of the safest, most crime-free countries on the planet is Switzerland. Switzerland, where nearly all men 18 to 60 (almost all Swiss men serve in the Swiss reserve military services) have a government-issued machine gun, with ammunition, in their homes.

Short-barreled Shotguns, Short-barreled Rifles & Silencers

Classified as "Any Other Weapon (AOW)" These require a transfer tax and more paperwork but still relatively easy to obtain from your local Class III Dealer.

Tanks, Artillery, Rocket Launchers, Artillery, Huey helicopter gun ships

These are "Destructive Devices" and yes, Ladies and Gentlemen you may by a bit shocked to learn how many fully functional tanks (with machine guns and main guns fully operational) are owned by private citizens. An expensive hobby, these "weapons of war" are indeed in private hands and occasionally brought out for emergencies. A privately owned Huey helicopter gun ship was used with great effect at Hurricane Katrina to ferry food, medical supplies, etc. Here again, more federal forms, taxes and fairly intense Federal oversight, but very doable for any private citizen willing to "jump through the hoops". Hey, in Texas they hunt wild hogs from helicopters with machine guns!

Home Made Firearms

U. S. law allows individuals to manufacture their own rifles, shotguns or pistols, in private, with no paperwork whatsoever. This is a growth industry in the firearms culture with many thousands of men doing so. The majority of these "home-built" firearms when placed side-by-side with a factory built firearm appear identical in craftsmanship, fit, finish, quality, reliability and accuracy i.e you can't tell the difference. With no way of tracking these firearms, it's speculation and guesswork as to how many thousands of these are manufactured every year.

Concealed Carry Laws

As of about two years ago, all 50 states have some form of legal concealed carrying (Concealed Carry of Weapons CCW) of firearms.This nation-wide movement commenced in the late 1980's. The ease, or restrictive nature, of CCW laws vary wildly. On the low end are states like Vermont where any U.S. citizen qualified to own a firearm can travel to Vermont and engage in carrying a concealed weapon with no license, permit, or government permission of any sort, just do it.  To the high end of states like California where getting a CCW license is extremely difficult and expensive. It's not exactly a secret that the safest communities are those with the least restrictions on the ownership and carrying of firearms concealed.

Could any person say (with a straight face) that they would feel safer in any public area in South side of Chicago at high noon on a week day where owning, let alone carrying, a handgun concealed legally is damn near impossible than they would walking out the door of a bar at midnight in Montepelier VT where nearly all non-felon adults can legally carry a pistol concealed with no license?

Pre-1898 Firearms...Another Sub-Culture

In the Byzantine world of firearm laws there is a little-known (even among prosecuting attorneys, police, even men and women who make their living in the firearms industry) area of these laws concerning firearms manufactured prior to 1898. Specifically, the laws of the Bureau Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE). 

Please bear with me: Let's begin with the Colt .45 Single Action Army (SSA) Virtually all Western movies set in the Post-Civil War American West have the actors using the Colt .45 SAA. Manufactured from 1873 to 1941 (when Colt's civilian firearm production ended for WWII military contracts), these are powerful, accurate and reliable handguns. Here's where is gets fun: The exact same gun manufactured prior to January 1, 1898 has a completely different legal status than the one manufactured after midnight January 1, 1898.

The pre-1898 Colt SAA's legal status is that (as far as the BATFE is concerned) they are not firearms. Therefore, there is an entire firearm sub-culture specializing in owning, buying, selling, studying, shooting and maintaining pre-1898 firearms. The legal status (as far as Federal firearm laws are concerned, State laws on this matter vary) of these firearms is that they have no status, no involvement, no concern of the BATFE whatsoever.

While I choose the Colt .45 SAA to make my point, there were literally dozens of manufacturers manufacturing many ten's of thousands of rifles, pistols and shotguns prior to 1898. Because of this unusual legal status, a firearm manufactured prior to Midnight January 1, 1898 has a higher dollar value and enhanced, elevated status within the sub-culture of these firearms.

Where guns come from

With all of the above in mind, many people have an emotional response to the topic of firearms. That's very understandable, innocent life being at risk, or lost, is certainly an emotional topic. The firearm is an easy target, especially if you believe that the only the only place firearms come from is large factory's with expensive, complex equipment operated by highly trained technicians. Pretty easy to locate and shut down the factory's, collect all the guns and presto chango we're on our way to no more gun related deaths!

Seriously? In a country where Cocaine and Heroin are smuggled in by the ton? Be advised: criminals sell contraband for a profit. Always have, always will. Ironically, the main market for stolen/illegal firearms is currently those areas with the strictest gun laws. Banning alcohol created wealthy crime families still enjoying elevated economic, social and political status from prohibition. The "war on drugs" has been a dismal failure to the point where grade school children steal their parents prescription med's and sell them on the school bus. Is there any evidence that a prohibition of firearms will yield any better results than that on alcohol, or drugs? The article I wrote (posted at my web site) "Las Zeta's Marketing Memorandum", is meant to be both humorous and serious, check it out.

Modern versus antique lethal nature of firearms

The argument that some guns are "more lethal" due to high-capacity magazines, or the ability to "spray" (seriously? spray?) multiple bullets in few seconds flies in the face of what men like myself know about firearms. During the Civil War (1860-1865) Cavalrymen routinely carried six revolvers each loaded with six rounds. Sounds like 36 shots to me. As a side note, modern duplicates of every rifle, shotgun, pistol, mortar and artillery piece used during the Civil War can be legally purchased (in most of the 50 states) over-the-counter in 2015, with no more paperwork than buying a pack of chewing gum. The psychopath who murdered all those school children at Sandy Hook elementary school could easily have used the same modern, duplicate, Civil War-era revolvers mentioned above.


I want to end this article with a message of hope. Let's look around the world and determine what country has happy, healthy, productive people living in a very safe society. One where firearms are ubiquitous. That would be Switzerland. A small land-locked nation near the middle of Europe. At peace for more than two centuries, while some of the most brutal wars in history took place just outside her borders.

While emulating their government, business practices, educational system and culture in general, precisely, is not practical, I believe there is much to be learned from their way of living, view of the world, and themselves. I've been invited to speak there and hope to be able to do so.℠ (Right-side navigation page SSI insertion)