I now know how the lead character in the movie “Ground Hog Day” must have felt. It seems every year [state] Sen. [Bryan] Townsend is going to introduce the same gun control bill and I am going to have to write a letter explaining to him and the citizens of Delaware why his bill is ineffective, inconsistent and will do nothing to protect the citizens of Delaware. So here goes.
First, Sen. Townsend likes the term “assault weapon”; it gets people’s attention and sounds dramatic. For clarity, let me just tell the citizens of Delaware that Ronald Turk, the second in command at the ATF identifies the term “assault weapon” as a politically contrived term with no real meaning in a recent white paper. He suggests the term be replaced with “modern sporting rifle” to reflect the growing popularity of these firearms for sport shooting and hunting. Just a small aside, let’s get to the real issues with the current Bill No. 68.
There are several major issues that make the bill ineffective. Let me deal with just two quick examples. The bill starts out with the same list of “bad” firearms, basically from the Maryland bill which is being copied. The Colt AR-15 is specifically banned, which is consistent with the type of rifle Sen. Townsend would like to take out of circulation. However, the Colt-AR15 Sporter H-Bar is excluded from the ban. This why the bill will not protect Delawareans.
The Colt-AR15 Sporter H-Bar is essentially the same as the Colt AR-15, except it has a heavier barrel (H-Bar means Heavy Barrel Automatic Rifle). It was designed to be able to fire more rounds through the barrel at a higher rate of speed, and more accurately without overheating the barrel. So Sen. Townsend has specifically excluded a model designed to fire more rounds, more accurately than the other AR-type rifles that would be banned. Make sense to anyone? It shouldn’t.
Now let’s jump to the section of the bill that covers “copycat weapons.” These are rifles built by sportsman on their own, or built by other manufacturers not specifically mentioned in the “bad gun” list.
There are four criteria for being banned under the copycat section, and any rifle that has at least two of these criteria would be banned. The first item is a “folding stock.” There are some rifles that exist with folding stocks, but most modern sporting rifles have collapsible stocks so that they can be adjusted to the comfort of the shooter. So in most cases this criteria for banning the rifle would not be an issue.
The second criteria is a “grenade or flare launcher.” I have read about most mass shootings over the years and do not believe I have heard of a grenade launcher being used in any of the incidents, but I could be wrong.
In the thousands of guns I have seen advertised for sale, I have to say I have not seen one with a grenade launcher. They do have them for some types of weapons but I think this is another criteria that we can probably say will be easy to avoid. I also do not believe Delaware has a “grenade” season for deer, so I feel confident most hunters will not have this accessory on their hunting rifle.
The third criteria is a “flash suppressor.” I don’t know how to break this to Sen. Townsend, but in most modern sport rifles, the flash suppressor can be screwed on and off. So if this is going to put a firearm into the banned category, the owner can just take it off the weapon. Another criteria that is ineffective.
The last criteria is “a pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon.” Could Sen. Townsend be vaguer? What exactly is conspicuously? Usually when a law is vague it is hard to enforce. How about some clarity in the definitions in the next attempt?
The end results of these criteria is that most people could build a modern sporting rifle that is essentially the same as some of banned rifles just by excluding some very simple criteria, and hopefully excluding grenade launchers. So what is the point of this bill? We will not be safer.
There are many other examples of why this bill is ineffective, confusing and contradictory and not in any way a means of protecting the citizens of Delaware. This is the case with the two other bills introduced recently, Sen. Bills 69 and 70. But those can be the topic of another letter.
Please, Sen. Townsend, stop introducing these ineffective bills. If you are going to pursue this agenda, at least learn from your previous submissions and try to at least be consistent with your approach. You are taking time and resources that could be used to address other issues that impact the citizens of Delaware. Remember Albert Einstein said, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”