Illinois State Representative Martin J. Moylan has introduced legislation in the Illinois Assembly that would essentially ban “assault weapons.” The problem is, Rep. Moylan doesn’t really have any qualified experience to tell you what defines an “assault weapon.”
For now, let’s set aside that fact that there is no such thing as an “assault weapon.” It’s a made-up term for political purposes. It is not the same as an “assault rifle,” which actually has a real definition. So since “assault weapon” is a political term, the law must define it.
Moylan’s legislation attempts to define an assault weapon, but fails miserably because, as I stated, politicians and gun-grabbers like Moylan don’t know the first thing about guns.
Here’s how they try to define it:
“Assault weapon” means:
(A) any rifle which has a belt fed ammunition system or which has a detachable magazine capable of holding more than 10 rounds of ammunition;
(B) a semi-automatic rifle that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has any of the following:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock; or
(ii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles the barrel, and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned;
(C) a semi-automatic pistol that has the ability to accept a detachable magazine and has any of the following:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock;
(ii) a shroud that is attached to, or partially or completely encircles the barrel, and that permits the shooter to hold the firearm with the non-trigger hand without being burned; or
(iii) a manufactured weight of 50 ounces or more when the pistol is unloaded.
(D) a semi-automatic rifle with a fixed magazine that has the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition;
(E) a semi-automatic shotgun that has:
(i) a folding or telescoping stock; and
(ii) contains its ammunition in a revolving cylinder; or
(iii) a fixed magazine capacity in excess of 5 rounds of ammunition, except as may be authorized under the Wildlife Code and excluding magazine extensions during the snow geese conservation order season; or
(iv) an ability to accept a detachable magazine of more than 5 rounds of ammunition.
Let’s focus on (B), a the qualifications for a semi-automatic rifle to be an “assault weapon.” Basically, detachable magazine coupled with a telescoping stock and/or a barrel shroud. Sounds like your basic AR-15.
Now, there is some text in the bill that defines what “assault weapon” does not include:
“Assault weapon” does not include:
(A) any firearm that:
(iv) uses rimfire ammunition or cartridges;
Any firearm that uses rimfire ammunition. OK.
Based on that definition, it should be easy for you to determine which of the following two firearms is legal and which is not:
Wait a minute! Aren’t these both “military style” weapons of war?
Not based on Moylan’s bill.
These are both Smith & Wesson M&P rifles. But the one on the top uses .223/5.56NATO ammunition (it’s an AR-15). The one on the bottom uses 22LR ammunition – a rimfire cartridge, which excludes it from Illinois’ potential assault weapon ban.
So now that you know the difference between what is legal and what is not under this bill, let’s move on to an easier question. Which of the following two rifles would be banned?
OH! That one’s easy, you say. Obviously, the firearm on the bottom is an assault weapon and would be banned. The one on the top would be legal.
Possibly. This one is a little bit of a trick question. These are the same gun.
Yes, these are both a Ruger Mini-14. As to whether it’s legal or not depends on how it is configured AT THE TIME. The one on the top is the popular “ranch rifle” configuration, while the bottom is tactical.
What non-gun-types like Moylan don’t understand is that guns are modular. And what the Feds (the BATF that regulates this stuff) consider to be “the firearm” is what is known as the “lower receiver”. That’s the part that contains the information on the weapon, including the serial number. Everything else comes apart and is interchangeable – like a lethal Lego set.
The bill provides no regulation for magazines, stocks, and other components by themselves. “Tactical” components for a rifle can be purchased anywhere at any time. They aren’t actually a firearm until they are attached to the lower receiver. Based on the bill’s wording, there’s nothing wrong with having the components laying around. It isn’t until they are assembled that it becomes “illegal.”
Of course, a person with criminal intent is probably not concerned with whether the configuration of his Mini-14 is legal or not when he is preparing for his crime.
There are many more problems with this bill, aside from the fact that it’s a gross overreach of the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution. But the important point here is that these politicians don’t have any actual knowledge of the subject they are trying to legislate. Equally as ignorant are members of the media who pass it on to an uninformed public.
The bill does absolutely nothing to make Illinois a safer place. Like so much of our approach to public safety in America, it is reactive rather than proactive. In terms of public safety, it does about as much as the no guns window stickers that declare buildings a gun free zone. They only stop the law abiding citizen. The criminal couldn’t care less about your sticker or your weapons ban.