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Old June 24, 2019, 11:43 AM   #90
44 AMP
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 22,013
The terminology is not an important issue anymore, that horse has left the barn.
I disagree, to a degree. True, we aren't going to get news media or talking heads to recognize and use the correct terminology. That ship has sailed (and sunk). HOWEVER, it does matter considerably, the terminology (and definitions) that are put in LAW.

And, (pardon the pun) `1639 cuts right to the heart of the action. It does not waste any effort on cosmetic features, they are not mentioned at all. There is no list of "bad features" and your semi is not ok if it only has two but a specially regulated assault weapon if it has 3, etc. There is no mention of caliber, magazine capacity, detachable or fixed mag, no mention of pistol grip, folding stock, bayonet lug, flash suppressor, or "the shoulder thing that goes up". None of that.

They take the base definition of a semiautotmatic action and flatly state that any rifle that meets that definition is (legally) a semiautomatic assault rifle.
Every functional semi auto rifle in existence meets the 1639 definition of semiautomatic assault rifle, with the possible exception of certain "antiques" which are not defined in 1639. I don't know what WA is currently using to define antique firearm, but the Fed definition included "manufactured before 1898, and some other things. What semi auto rifle meets that??

Broomhandle carbine??? (oh, wait, that's a stocked pistol, sorry...)
My point here is that it doesn't matter what something is, or is not, all that matters to the law is what the law says it is.

A law could define my chair as a weapon of ass destruction, and charge me a $25 dollar "fee" and require a waiting period and a special "ass consciousness" class before I buy another, and if that is what gets passed into law, then it IS the law, until it is repealed or overturned. It doesn't make my chair a weapon in reality, but reality and the law are not always the same thing these days,..if they ever were...

Correct terminology may not matter (much) in news reports or casual conversation but it can make a huge difference when it becomes the language used in a law.

The language can (usually isn't, but can) be subtle, too. We "dodged the bullet" (actually a time bomb) that was one part of the Fed 94 AWB. That particular time bomb would have allowed them to regulate/ban DA revolvers!!

People would think, "DA revolver is an assault weapon?? NO way!! its manually operate, only holds 6, doesn't have a magazine, or any of the other features..." etc. Except under the law, as written IT COULD HAVE BEEN declared an assault weapon, with all the restrictions pertaining to such, and that would have legal because of the language of the law.

Because the 94 AWB listed the Striker 12 / Streesweeper shotguns as assault weapons, and contained the statement "or any other firearm with mechanisms identical, or substantially similar to.."

The big round part of a Streetsweeper that LOOKS like a drum magazine is not, it is a CYLINDER, just like a revolver. The guns firing mechanism was patterned after (copied from) a DA revolver!!!

I think the only reasons we dodged that particular "bullet" is that the anti's realized that at the time, they had the political momentum to ban semi auto "assault weapons", but not enough to also ban revolvers at the same time, and had they tried the whole bill would have failed to pass.

I believe the "substantially similar to" language was not only just to keep someone from making the same firearm under a different name, but also as a long term "sleeper" poison, to be acted on later when they felt political opinions were more favorable. I also think the only thing that foiled this plan was the failure of Congress to re-authorize the 94AWB, and it's subsequent sunset.

SO, while getting the other side to use the correct terminology for certain guns may no longer matter much to the argument over them, getting the correct terms in the law makes a huge difference to our reality. And we've lost all too much on that front, as well.
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
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