Free Minds & Free Markets

Dianne Feinstein Wants to Ban Parts That Make 'Assault Weapons' Legal Again

The latest version of the senator's "assault weapon" ban targets products that highlight the irrationality of "assault weapon" bans.

Reason / Joanna AndreassonReason / Joanna AndreassonThis week Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced the latest version of her "assault weapon" ban. "Americans across the nation are asking Congress to reinstate the federal ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines," she claims. "If we're going to put a stop to mass shootings and protect our children, we need to get these weapons of war off our streets."

Since this bill, like its predecessors, does not apply to firearms that Americans already possess, it won't actually take anything "off our streets"— or, to be more accurate, out of anyone's gun cabinet, basement, or garage. That's better than the alternative of mass confiscation, but it gives you a sense of Feinstein's dishonesty on this subject that she claims to be eliminating guns at the beginning of her press release, only to note five paragraphs later that "owners may keep existing weapons." Since Americans own more than 16 million guns that are covered by Feinstein's definition of "assault weapons," that is no minor detail.

Feinstein has not posted the text of her bill yet, but it sounds a lot like the 2017 version. The 2019 bill, like the previous one, bans "205 military-style assault weapons by name," along with any firearm that "accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics," such as "a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock." It also "exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes," which is supposed to show us how generous Feinstein is being. But this list, which consumed nearly 100 pages of the 2017 bill, is completely gratuitous, since any gun that's not banned by name and does not fit the general definition would remain legal regardless of whether the bill said so explicitly.

The bill's arbitrariness should be obvious, since features that do not make a gun any more deadly in the hands of a mass shooter, such as a folding stock or a threaded barrel, nevertheless transform it into an intolerable "assault weapon," as opposed to a gun suitable for "hunting, household defense or recreational purposes." The picture above, which shows a Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rifle and a Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle, starkly illustrates Feinstein's silliness. The two models fire the same ammunition at the same rate and have the same magazine capacity. Yet the one on top was specifically banned by the 2017 bill, while the one on the bottom was specifically exempted.

Thordsen CustomsThordsen CustomsThe 2019 bill includes a new provision that provides further evidence of Feinstein's wacky approach to gun control. According to the senator's press release, the bill "bans Thordsen-type grips and stocks that are designed to evade a ban on assault weapons." Feinstein is talking about products like the FRS-15 Enhanced Stock Kit (left), made by the California company Thordsen Customs. The kit replaces an adjustable stock and pistol grip on a gun that would otherwise qualify as a prohibited "assault weapon" under state bans like California's. Once you switch out the parts, the gun has neither of those forbidden features. In other words, the kit enables a gun owner to comply with an "assault weapon" ban, which Feinstein perversely characterizes as evading the ban.

"What our rifle stock does is remove both of those individually named items and replace them with a single-piece, solid, traditional-style rifle stock like you can find on any other traditional-style rifle," says Alan Thordsen, founder and CEO of Thordsen Customs. "That's all it does."

Thordsen is bemused by Feinstein's disapproval of products that enable people to follow the arbitrary dictates of legislation like hers. "We are complying with the ban," he says. "If there's a feature that is banned, we change the feature. That's not evading. That's not skirting the law or violating the spirit of the law. We are conforming with the law and creating products that enable law-abiding people to keep their legal firearms in a legal configuration so that they are not criminals."

Although "they singled our product out by name," Thordsen says, "more generally they were talking about any device or product that will convert your current assault-weapon configuration to a non-assault-weapon configuration," which is "one step closer to a total semiautomatic rifle ban....The whole thought of banning parts or devices that will take your possibly noncompliant firearm, if this bill were to pass, and make it compliant again is ridiculous."

By the same logic (if that's the right word), smooth rifle barrels should be banned because they can replace threaded barrels, transforming a prohibited "assault weapon" into a legal gun. The problem here is not sneaky entrepreneurs like Thordsen but irrational legislators like Feinstein. Thordsen's real offense, one suspects, is highlighting how pointless bills like Feinstein's are.

"Military-style assault rifles are the weapons of choice for mass murderers," Sen Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) claims in Feinstein's press release. That is not true, since mass shooters are much more likely to use handguns. Even if it were true, and even if a bill like Feinstein's could make those "military-style assault rifles" disappear (which it does not even purport to do), mass murderers would still have plenty of equally lethal options. It therefore requires colossal chutzpah or monumental self-delusion for Feinstein to claim her ban would "put a stop to mass shootings."

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  • Don't look at me!||

    If you are not speeding on the highway you are evading a ticket.

  • n00bdragon||

    Evading arrest is already a crime. They've just been polite enough not to nail you for it... yet.

  • Agammamon||

    They already do this with money deposits in a bank.

  • Idaho Bob||

    "That's better than the alternative of mass confiscation..."

    I'm at an age where I want to see this tried by the Feds. Sincerely curious of the outcome.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Phase 1: "Common sense," "reasonable," and poll supported "universal" background checks that close that pesky "loophole" whereby a private citizen [and not a licensed FFL/ dealer] and sell, give, or otherwise transfer a gun to a friend, relative, neighbor, or some guy who also happens to be at a gun show.

    Phase 2: Shit, the "good" people are still following the law [as do 99/9% of them] but the "bad" people who commit crimes are not. And the occasional nut who shoots up a school is still doing it! How can we possibly enforce #1? Roll out "universal registration" [you have to do that for cars, amIright?]. Same difference.

    Phase 3: Now that we know who owns the guns and where they are, and we have a majority of Democrats in all branches of government, let's take em all, Mr and Mrs, America, turn em' in!

    Progressivsim is nothing if not incremental.

  • Zeb||

    I think Idaho Bob was thinking more about what comes after Phase 3.

  • Don't look at me!||

    More like during phase 3.

  • Idaho Bob||

    I'm wondering how many will turn them in, how many will hide them, and how many will say "Fuck it, let's do this shit."

  • Deelerious||

    Do you know what prevents them from taking our guns? Our guns.

  • Cloudbuster||

    *chambers a round*

  • A Lady of Reason||

    They will be helping ban ways for us to defend ourselves.... The Left is clueless about why these shootings keep happening, and it's because no one is around to fight back!

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    it's because no one is around to fight back!

    No, it's because some people are just plain crazy, maybe even evil.

  • BigT||

    Both are factors.

  • MatthewSlyfield||

    Crazy and evil are not mutually exclusive.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    It therefore requires colossal chutzpah or monumental self-delusion for Feinstein to claim her ban would "put a stop to mass shootings."

    No room for both?

    A town near me recently did a gun buyback where they offered a $50 gift card for a gun and two $50 gift cards for an assault rifle. Surely they wouldn't do such a thing without a way to tell the difference.

  • Ron||

    $50.00 that to cheap even a junk gun is worth twice as much more on the open legal market

  • ||

    Does the new gun control debate seem completely out of the blue (no pun intended) to anyone else? It seems like previous gun debates, candidates ran on gun control and won or there was some mass shooting/media panic that stirred an uproar.

    For some reason this one feels like Democrats beating the drum to march up a hill that they've consistently been killed on because that's just what they've always done and it's not like anyone else has any better ideas.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    I think several recent changes are making traditional gun control irrelevant, and these clowns sense that.

    Polls showing Europeans are buying more and more legal guns, and undoubtedly more illegal guns. Several European countries have begun relaxing their tight gun control. The new Brazilian president has promised to do the same. Seems people don't like being prevented from defending themselves, especially when force-fed involuntary immigrants who don't want to be there. Self-defense truly is the most basic, fundamental, human right.

    3D printing is going to make it easier to get the guns you want. It isn't there yet, but CNC machines are getting cheaper, and Defense Dirtributed's Ghost Gun machine is a good example. I expect that within, say, 20 years, anyone will be able to get any gun they want, without government having any idea of who has what, registration be damned.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Possessing such will be a felony 1, of course. As it is now if I have a threaded adapter and an oil filter anywhere near my rifles.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    They will certainly try that. But as the printers become more ubiquitous and as normal as computers have been and smart phones are now, they won't be able to ban printed guns. Yes, they can bust people who have such guns in public, or when they search a home for drugs. But they are going to more common than pot or beer in the 1920s. Imagine trying to control computers now. Can't be done.

  • ||

    3D printing is going to make it easier to get the guns you want. It isn't there yet,

    I disagree with you on the specifics, not on the overarching notion. 3D printing is meaningless. The advance of all technology is going to make everyone more capable of creating firearms from any one of several mediums they surround themselves with daily. I'm not intrinsically against them, but fuck Defense Distributed, if I really need a gun, I can watch a guy hammer out an AK-47 from a shovel he bought at Home Depot on my phone. People in Pakistan are hammering out guns by the thousands daily and have for decades without a blissfully unaware of what the word 'arduino' means and without a care in the world what the optimal temperature to extrude PLA is.

  • ||

    3D printing is meaningless.

    It's a facilitative technology, not a disruptive or transformative one. That is to say, you've never stopped and marveled at vacuum forming technology or metal extrusion technology or lithography, but you have stopped and marveled at your phone, which wouldn't be possible without any of them and without which even 3D printing wouldn't make possible. 3D printing will, at best, take it's place alongside them (assuming it already hasn't with in the form of 'extrusion technology') rather than displace any/all of them.

  • ||

    I think several recent changes are making traditional gun control irrelevant, and these clowns sense that.

    I guess I've always been one of those 'You can achieve something by doing nothing.' types so some portions of the 'Do something! Not nothing!' mentality will always seem alien to me.

  • Bruce D||

    In 20 years, people will be manufacturing "rayguns" in their homes using household materials and scavenged electronic components. The technology is already here. Eventually, someone will post a good workable design.

  • a ab abc abcd abcde abcdef ahf||

    How useful can this be if it doesn't include bayonet lugs among the military features?

    Weak sauce!

  • Rat on a train||

    There have been a dozen drive-by boyonettings so far this year!

  • newshutz||

    I'vw heard that boyonetting is what tony does to get a date.

  • Naaman Brown||

    Or that common military feature, a cleaning rod under the barrel.

    Or sling swivels, especially a stacking swivel - a purely military feature.

    And that feature used by almost every militray (except France) -- a safety catch.

  • chemjeff radical individualist||

    Gun grabbers gonna gun grab.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    Or die trying [will this post alert the US Attorneys Office in NY, do you think? Or does that only apply to weapons grade wood chippers?].

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    [Preet's gone. Death to Preet]

  • loveconstitution1789||

    *starts woodchipper*

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    "...any firearm that "accepts a detachable ammunition magazine and has one or more military characteristics," such as "a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock."

    My Ruger 10/22 take down has a 10 round detachable magazine as standard [never mind the 25 and 50 round ones] and a threaded barrel.

    Many rats and vermin will be glad to know that it could be banned, while what Patton described as the "greatest battle implement ever devised," the M1 Garand, will not fall into this category.

  • Zeb||

    At some point a flintlock musket was the greatest battle implement ever devised.

    Hell, at some point a pointed stick was the greatest battle implement ever devised.

  • $park¥ The Misanthrope||

    Aren't we allowed high and mighty!

  • newshutz||

    "a pointed stick was the greatest battle implement ever devised"

    But what if someone attacks you with a piece of fruit, what are you going to do then, eh?

  • Naaman Brown||

    They missed one. A cleaning rod under the barrel is a common "military feature"

    The reason military guns may feature any one or more of "a pistol grip, a forward grip, a barrel shroud, a threaded barrel or a folding or telescoping stock" is that these features are ergonomic.

    Detachable ammunition magazines, to me, are more valuable because you can unload the weapon by (a) removing the magazine and (b) racking the bolt to eject any round left in the firing chamber (while maintaining muzzle discipline).

    Detachable magaziine is a safety feature for most users, Unloading a fixed magazine firearm by running rounds through the mechanism is multiple opportunities for an accidental discharge,

    According to the reviews of firearms research published by the Centers for Disease Control and the National Research Council as the sunset of the 1994 Assault Weapon Ban approached, there was no measurable impact on gun violence by the 1994-2004 AWB. This is stuck on stupid.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...owners may keep existing weapons.

    Those will be dealt with at a later time once we get past this hurdle.

  • Quo Usque Tandem||

    See my reply to Idaho Bob a few comments above, As I conclude, progressivism is nothing if not incremental. It really helps if you boil that frog steadily, but slowly.

  • BigT||

    Yeah, it's a ratchet the way it almost never gets reversed.

  • Rockabilly||

    Why there should be a ban against bans.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    There is. The US Constitution does not provide authority to ban any product or service without an amendment.

    The 13th Amendment was the first 'ban' of slavery and indentured servitude for non-criminals.

    The 18th Amendment banned alcohol.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    I would like to see criminal penalties for violating the Constitution while in office though.

    Lifetime in prison for trying to ban a product or service without changing the Constitution first.

  • Duke of url||

    Right?! Isn't deprivation of rights under color of authority a crime?

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It is but you need standing and a bunch of other burdens the courts piles on you to get you to go away.

  • Zeb||

    That would be great. I give odds of legislators actually making such a law which could be applied to them at about zero, though.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Sadly, I agree. Zero percent chance.

  • Drt23||

    Wouldn't a ban banning bans ban the ban???

  • Duke of url||

    CA dems circa 2010:
    "Nobody is taking your magazines, you may continue to keep them, but we have banned buying, selling, or manufacturing them any more".

    CA dems circa 2016:
    " Surrender 'em or else"

  • Billy Bones||

    Leave poor Diane alone. I have it on good authority she knows her rifles, as she once dated Horace Smith (Smith & Wesson fame) back in the mid-1800's. /sarc

  • BigT||

    That was Horseface Smith, and she barfed out Sarah Jessica Parker.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    He only went out with her because Sam Colt said she was easy.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    "If we're going to put a stop to mass shootings and protect our children, we need to get these weapons of war off our streets."

    So she plans to take them from the police?

  • Ron||

    maybe so i saw cops episode once where all the guns found at a crime had been "stolen" from the Oakland Ca police

  • Naaman Brown||

    Do the math.

    US gun crimes represent at most 400,000 or so guns. Maybe one of one thousand of all private guns.

    How many crime guns go out of circulation in a year? For replacement, how many guns would have to be stolen from military, police, civilian owners, factories? How many smuggled or illegally manufactured? Australian bikie gangs make MAC-10s in their workshops. The Carl Gustav M45 is also notoriously easy to copy. "Carlo" copies show up in Israel, Sweden, India,

  • Duke of url||

    "We are committed to respecting your first amendment right to free speech, however, here is a couple hundred words we decided to ban".

  • perlchpr||

    See also: Many college campuses

  • Chest Rockwell||

    Anyone ever notice that the liberals who espouse this logic of "if increased gun control saves even just 1 life it's worth it" do not apply the same logic to our border?

  • loveconstitution1789||


  • Zeb||

    Well, you'd have to figure out whether border security saves more lives than it costs, which isn't obvious. At least if you count non-American lives.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Border security is concern for American lives.

    Libertarianism supports non-Americans taking care of themselves that does not involve violating the rights of Americans to decide who enters the USA.

  • newshutz||

    "you'd have to figure out whether border security saves more lives than it costs"

    For this analogy, you do not, because gun controllers ignore if gun control costs more lives than it saves.

  • Naaman Brown||

    The Maryland State Police stopped enforcing that idiotic ballistic fingerprint law and diverted the funds to productive programs. And repeatedly told the Legislature the law was useless. Maryland finally repealed the abomination.

    Save one life at a cost of billions, when there are programs that could possibly save more lives going underfunded.

    Crime involves a bad actor with motive and intent exploiting opportunity and utilizing a means. Gun control is a bassackwards approach to reducing crime.

  • BigT||

    I await the revenge of the Kav!!!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    It will be marvelous.

    If he does the nose thing, you will know what is coming next.

  • Duke of url||

    Has Dianne disarmed her tax payer funded security detail yet, or is she a complete hypocrit?
    Pick one.

  • Zeb||

    She's not a hypocrite. Just wrong. She consistently believes that only people who the government deems to be worthy can carry guns.

  • newshutz||

    And only those rich enough to be able to hire them should be protected, while demonizing income inequality.

    She is a hypocrite and wrong in many ways.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Amendment II
    A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    All gun control is unconstitutional.

    Feinstein should be impeached by the Senate for violating her oath of office (among many others too).

  • Duke of url||

    This ^

  • Chest Rockwell||

    Democrats say they don't wanna take your guns. If this was true they'd stop name dropping Australia as a place that did things right when it comes to guns.

  • Duke of url||

    "Nobody should be allowed to have a gun"!
    /California senator Leeland Yee, currently serving in prison for running guns to gangsters.

  • Duke of url||

    Duck Fianne

  • DesigNate||

    Not even with your durl.

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    If increased gun control saves even just 1 life, then Feinstein doesn't care how many lives it will take.

  • Naaman Brown||

    What about the funds diverted for gun control that might do more if spendt on more productive policies?

  • newshutz||

    Do more what? is the question.

    What kind of "productive policies" will get more of what DiFi wants?

    Isn't DiFi the best judge of what will get her what she wants?

    What else but the policies that she pushes, can we use to determine what she wants?

  • Truthteller1||

    Assault weapons only exist in the media and the minds of the lemmings that they lead over the cliff.

  • Gene Ralno||

    Why would anyone exchange a major ergonomic enhancement for an outdated, less functional part?
    Perhaps Feinstein should exchange her head for one more attractive to firearms owners. Anyone who buckles under and complies with these prima facie violations of the U.S. Constitution is a fool. The government will lose legislatively or in a revolt. Either way, they don't yet know who owns what and the errant hardware is easy to hide or relocate in friendlier states. Soon enough, the Supreme Court will weigh in with reversals and these annoyances will vanish. If they don't, you're sure to need your hardware.

  • Naaman Brown||

    "It also "exempts by name more than 2,200 guns for hunting, household defense or recreational purposes," ..."

    I had a couple of .22 rimfire bolt-action single-shot rifles NOT on her 2017 bill's exempt list.

    That thing read like someone took the current Shooters Bible catalog and went through it listing makes and models not on the verboten assault weapon list. Taken literally the exempt list does not cover all non-assault weapon models so would those not on the exempt list be verboten?

    Back during the old Clinton Era federal Assault Weapon Ban 1994-2004 I owned an M1 Carbine I had bought in 1992. Even though the gun was grandfathered, I got a ramline hunting stock, barrel band w/o bayonet lug, and 5 and 10 shot magazines. Didn't want my compound Waco-ized under Ruby Ridge Rules of Engagement. Then Senator Feinstein started that threat that complying with the ban features was evading the ban and the next set of enhanced regs would catch us scoff laws and our featureless guns. I pulled my evil military stock set and as-issued magazines out of storage and started participating in the military rifle matches at the rod and gun club. When I found a reasonable price on a M1A1 folding paratrooper stock I bought that, too.

    Juan Ramón Jiménez — 'If they give you ruled paper, write the other way.' -- blurb for "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury .

  • Casusbubble||

    Thanks for sharing such informative article.

  • Banquo||

    Re-write that title please. It's pissing me off.

  • Agammamon||

    I wonder what would happen if manufacturers changed the name of their products to one or more of the 'exempt' ones?

  • Jerry B.||

    Per the FBI, you're still more likely to be murdered with a knife, a blunt object, or hands and feet than with ANY type of rifle. Yet Feinstein is not asking for knife, blunt object, or hand and foot control. Doesn't she care about our safety?

  • T. Busse||

    She is so fake. In 1993 when she sponsored the Brady Bill her cronies staged the "Highrise Hitman" shooting, and she still coasts on this lie. I found proof in the SF Board of Supervisors files and then tracked down the "suicide" gunman to find him alive in Toronto, not that the media would even look at my proof or talk to me. Of course, that sent SFPD officers to my door to rough me up. The investigators (Hendrix and Sanders) have since been shown to frame suspects and cover up evidence. Her "false flag" also created pretext for the national crime bill- massive funding for police pensions.

  • Deconstructed Potato||

    Wtf? That's some triple-layered, lead-lined, titanium foil hat level, straight outta Orwell, directed by Oliver Stone type shit.


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