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Old April 29, 2009, 10:14 PM   #1
Tom Servo
Join Date: September 27, 2008
Location: Foothills of the Appalachians
Posts: 12,130
Back-door Gun Control

If we can use a capital infusion to a bank as an opportunity to control executive compensation and to limit use of private planes, why can't the government use its weight as the largest purchaser of guns from major manufacturers to reward companies that work to keep their products out of criminals' hands? Put another way, if it is too difficult to outlaw bad conduct through statutes, why not pay for good conduct? Why not require vendors to change their behavior if they want our tax dollars?
--Elliot Spitzer, writing for Slate

I don't think this'd work. Still, it gives me pause.

I'm not worried about another blanket ban. What scares me is a sort of scheme like this, which would stand up to post-Heller scrutiny.

The jury's still out as to whether it was intentional or not, but OSHA's attempt at revising 1910.109 last year proved that it's possible to stifle or kill the gun industry without passing a single law.

You can bet this is the stuff I'd be brainstorming if I was in their shoes. Here's what we need to watch for:
  • import bans
  • controls on manufacture and distribution of raw materials
  • controls on the flow of commerce.

The 1989 ban was bad enough, but an executive order could easily stall production on such brands as Glock, Sig and Springfield. It could severely affect the availability of replacement parts for existing guns. In any case, it would drive prices through the roof.

Of course, the affected companies could simply open plants here, but that's assuming that they're issued the appropriate manufacturing licenses and given zoning to open said facilities.

Then there's the question of raw materials. We could see a tax on nitrocellulose or "environmental" controls on lead. Want your gun reblued? Sorry, but hot bluing got declared a respiratory hazard in 2011. Right now, manufacture in the industry is slowed because of a shortage of 4130 and 4150 steel. That could be regulated into a permanent shortage.

Lastly, we have the idea of staunching commerce. The BATFE could simply decide to stop renewing FFL's. Or they could be ordered to audit records once a week, with a full stop on any FFL that has so much as a misplaced abbreviation in their books. Fines for simple violations could be raised to $100,000 per typo.

Remember, it's for the children.

None of this requires an act of Congress. It would be very hard to challenge the Constitutionality of such measures against the Bill of Rights. Worst of all, we might not see it coming until it's too late.

(Let's not let this denigrate into comments on Mr. Spitzer's...troubles. Likewise, please don't bring up S&W's deal with the Clinton administration. They are a different company now, and have no intention of honoring the old deal.)
Sometimes it’s nice not to destroy the world for a change.
--Randall Munroe
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