In the wake of Orlando, I am hearing people who are terrified of guns, any guns, saying and posting that we have to restrict the sale of "automatic weapons" and "assault rifles"
You know what?
There are roughly 37 states in the U.S. that will let you own or possess a fully automatic gun. But it's not simple or easy. Federal law mandates that no civilian may own a fully auto weapon made after 1986 (GCA of 1986). so, you can buy a full auto M-16 made in 1985, but if the weapon was made in 1986, you can not.
Because of that restriction, those full auto weapons made before 1986 sell for about $20,000-$30,000. A full auto Thompson Sub-machine gun, made in the 1930's, would sell for about $20,000.
You need to be 21 years old to buy such a gun.
You need to apply to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms to get a permit to get the gun. You will have to pass a background investigation by the BATF to get the permit. You have to pay a $200 tax for the permit. You have to have the permission of the local law enforcement Chief (or County Sheriff) to keep the gun in their jurisdiction. You have to buy the weapon through a Class III dealer (one licensed to deal in full auto arms).
Some states have even more regulations.
At 1,200 rounds per minute or so, you are talking about over $500 a minute just to shoot one of these things.
Automatic weapons aren't the problem. An angry or mentally ill person can't just grab one off the shelf. They can't practice with it.
Semi-automatic weapons are anything "that performs all steps necessary to prepare it to discharge again after firing—assuming cartridges remain in the firearm's feed device. Typically, this includes extracting and ejecting the spent cartridge case from the firing chamber, re-cocking the firing mechanism, and loading a new cartridge into the firing chamber. Although machine guns and selective-fire firearms do the same tasks, semi-automatic firearms do not automatically fire an additional round until the trigger is released and re-pressed by the person discharging it. That is, a semi-automatic firearm fires only one round (bullet) each time the trigger is pulled."
Got it? Good.
Not one of the people who have committed the worst mass shootings in the US was what I would refer to as a criminal mastermind. They bought or stole guns that would fire many bullets, fast.
Not one used an automatic weapon.
These were not, in general, people with friends who would have happily bought guns for them without suspicion.
If they had had limited or no access to extended magazines they could not have done what they did (This article by Daniel Hayes explains this better than I ever could).
We need simple solutions to thwart simple people, because honestly- If someone intelligent wants to kill large numbers, they are going to do it. Right this minute, sitting in my office I can use the TOR browser to drop to the dark web and buy a fully automatic weapon. I can buy it with the bitcoins in my bitcoin wallet. If I'm feeling stressed I can add a pound of heroin, and then buy a nice Ukranian girl to be delivered with it. I can send it to an untraceable drop, also paid for with those same untraceable bitcoins.
If I want to be more hands on, I can simply buy a 3D printer, and print myself as many guns as I have the patience to sit through and assemble. Not fancy, but they do the job. The plans are available for free all over the net.
Here's a home made Luty submachine gun. There's an instructional .pdf that tells you how to build this one. 98 pages long, but with precision instructions. I have to have tools for this one, and a basic workshop. Of course, if I'm really devoted, and smart, with workshop space, I can just brew up sarin gas. Or buy weaponized anthrax from some of those same dealers on the dark web.
So what's the solution?
1) Buyer biometric registration, with fingerprint chips, registered to the legal owner. You sell without re-registering, you are equally liable for anything done with that gun. (Stops straw buyers from legally buying guns and giving or selling them to others)
2) Limited magazine size- 10 shots or under. Again, a smart person can get around this, but in general? An angry or ill shooter will take what they can buy. (Stops easy mass killing and provides opportunities for victims to run or attack)
3)Smart guns, which won't fire unless held by the legal owner. They exist, but politics keeps them off the market. (Stops gun theft)
It's time. We've had enough. The framers of the Constitution could not in their wildest dreams have imagined the weapons of today, or the social structure which surrounds them.
And let's face it hunters- if you need 30 shots to kill that wild boar, you aren't good enough to be hunting wild boar.
We are not a well-regulated militia. We are Omar Mateen.