PDA

View Full Version : Dear Jeff Amador...


Geoff C
08-08-2006, 8:51 PM
Here my letter to Mr. Amador. I'll be mailing it tomorrow, so any constructive feedback in the meantime would be much appreciated. Thanks, Geoff

PS: Sorry it's so long...

---

Mr. Amador,

I am writing to express concern over the proposed regulatory change to amend Section 978.20 of Division 1, Title 11 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR) regarding definitions of terms used to identify assault weapons.

Currently it is the case that a detachable magazine is defined as a magazine that does not require disassembly of the firearm action or use of a tool for removal. Furthermore, a bullet or ammunition cartridge is considered a tool. This definition seems very clear and easily applied to actual firearm evaluation. The most useful aspect of this definition is that anyone, firearms lawyer or not, can understand its meaning and application.

I realize that the DOJ considers this definition too flexible in that nearly any unlisted, semi-automatic assault rifle can be converted to a fixed magazine (and therefore legal) configuration. This has led to the proposed rulemaking we are currently discussing that defines “capacity to accept a detachable magazine”, as meaning "capable of accommodating a detachable magazine, but shall not be construed to include a firearm that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate a detachable magazine."

The problem with this new definition is that it eliminates the currently unambiguous test procedure (use of a tool or disassembly), and replaces it with a definition so confusing that it is unlikely that a normal citizen could fully understand its meaning. For the purposes of this letter I will consider the two halves of the definition separately.

Part 1 - “Capable of accommodating a detachable magazine…”

“Capacity” is one of the most ambiguous and subjective terms in the English language.

This definition if taken literally could mean that any SKS, including “fixed magazine” variants would have the “capacity to accept a detachable magazine” and would therefore likely be considered illegal assault weapons. Any “fixed magazine” SKS can readily be converted to accept a detachable magazine, but as the law is currently written are not considered to be detachable magazine rifles until the actual conversion is done. This is the manner in which the vast majority of firearms laws do operate, and rightfully so. The ability to commit a crime is not the same as committing said crime.

By adding this new definition, a situation will be created where the ability to create an assault rifle from an otherwise legal rifle holds the same legal consequences as possessing an illegal assault rifle. This is an extremely difficult and dangerous line to cross. This regulatory change has the potential to transform numerous legal rifles into illegal assault rifles, and their owners from law-abiding citizens to criminals.

The ambiguity of this text would make it much more difficult for law-abiding firearms owners to understand whether a given rifle or configuration was legal. As a law-abiding owner of firearms, this worries me greatly. As with many other firearms owners, I enjoy responsible firearms ownership and fear that if this definition is adopted that I may find myself unwittingly committing a felony, against my best intentions.

Part 2 – “…but shall not be construed to include a firearm that has been permanently altered so that it cannot accommodate a detachable magazine."

While “capacity” is an extremely unclear term, “permanence” is an even more difficult concept to quantify. The problem with defining legality based on permanence is that nothing in this world is ever truly permanent. With simple power tools and a welder, even a moderately skilled fabricator can create a fully functional firearm from raw metal. To a lesser extent, it is rather easy to convert a fixed magazine rifle to using a detachable magazine or a modified fixed magazine rifle back to using a detachable magazine. This ability should not be treated in the same way as actually building an illegal assault rifle.

Just as with Part 1, this is attempting to regulate future behavior. An AR-15 type rifle with a modified magazine catch that uses an insert and nut rather than a button can currently be configured legally. While it is possible to convert a rifle of this type back to a detachable magazine, the crime of doing so does not take effect until the conversion is performed. This regulatory change could have the unfortunate consequence that a currently legal rifle would become an illegal assault rifle.

The question then becomes the permanence of modification. Clearly a nut is not permanent, but neither is gluing, pinning, or even welding a magazine in place. Therefore it becomes a question of how permanent is acceptable and who decides this arbitrary level. Whenever a sliding scale like this determines legality, it is reasonable to expect that an average citizen would not be able to determine legality on their own.

With regard to permanence, how drastically modified would be considered adequate? Would a permanently shortened magazine catch stud that could no longer accept a button be adequate? Or would permanence only be considered adequate for (potentially damaging) modifications that make the firearm difficult or even unsafe to reverse (such as epoxying, welding, or similar)?

The last thing any responsible and law-abiding gun owner wants is to be forced to try to interpret an unclear and confusing legal definition with the penalty for error being a felony conviction.

I hope I have been sufficiently clear in conveying my concerns. As a law-abiding citizen, I, too, am troubled by the prospect of criminals taking advantage of fair legislation to build illegal rifles for their own use. While this is a significant concern, I don’t believe the solution lies in ambiguous legislation or definitions that threaten to reclassify tens of thousands of legal rifles as assault weapons based on their ability to be converted into an illegal configuration, thereby turning equally many responsible citizens into felons.

Thank you very much for your consideration in this matter. If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to contact me by letter or by telephone. I have included my contact information at the head of this letter.

Santa Cruz Armory
08-08-2006, 9:47 PM
Very nice! :)

M. Sage
08-08-2006, 10:04 PM
Wow. That's a great letter.

dawson8r
08-08-2006, 10:04 PM
Good job! How many of you got an email from the NRA Members Council of California about the terminology amendment? Here's the link:

http://www.calnra.com/index.shtml

I guess this whole terminology business finally hit a nerve with the NRA

Crazed_SS
08-09-2006, 4:47 AM
I think you mean to use the term "Assault Weapon", not "Assault Rifle".

Geoff C
08-09-2006, 10:07 AM
Thanks for the input, guys!

Looks like I'll be sending it this afternoon.

-Geoff

VeryCoolCat
08-09-2006, 10:32 AM
Isn't there a flaw in this entire law anyways.

They can't say that as many firearms can be converted to take detachable magazines with slight modifications. (sks for example).

And they can't intend to make it effect ar/ak rifles only as Harriot vs Kings County already said you cannot classify the weapons as "AR/AK"

6172crew
08-09-2006, 10:51 AM
Isn't there a flaw in this entire law anyways.

They can't say that as many firearms can be converted to take detachable magazines with slight modifications. (sks for example).

And they can't intend to make it effect ar/ak rifles only as Harriot vs Kings County already said you cannot classify the weapons as "AR/AK"

Ed Zachary! You just wrote a letter that says the same thing I said but will only take 10 seconds to read.

This is why the y have a Notice and Comment when these things come across the DOJs desk, we can show them that what they are trying to do can in fact make things worse and not clarify anything and possibly send good citizens to jail.

anotherone
08-09-2006, 2:21 PM
Excellently written letter Geoff! It is very clearly written and brings up some excellent points.

6172crew
08-09-2006, 3:00 PM
Excellently written letter Geoff! It is very clearly written and brings up some excellent points.

Ya know I just sat down and read this one again and its a winner. How can the Justice dept put anyone in this kind of catch 22 and not open a registration period before hand?

Geoff C
08-09-2006, 9:11 PM
Thanks for the positive feedback! I'm just glad that I didn't make any glaring errors. :p The letter, with your guys' help polishing it up, went out this afternoon via certified mail.

Now that I've written my letter...

if you've yet to send one yourself, please do so soon! Feel free to borrow portions of mine, but please don't just send the same letter. I think that individual letters making similar points are far more powerful than a single form letter.

Thanks,
Geoff