Fighting Unconstitutional Gun Control with Duane Liptak of Magpul

Duane Liptak – Magpul Industries  – As expected, the calls for all manner of gun control from an empowered left have been non-stop since even before the beginning of the year. I’ve been asked to give a brief synopsis of what I know, and while this may not be complete, it’s my best attempt at a snapshot while juggling all of this and the main part of my day job—working on making cool stuff—which I sorely wish was not being detracted from by the necessity of fighting off those who would continue to encroach further and further into treading on the Bill of Rights in all aspects of our lives. 

So…in no particular order, here goes:

The Filibuster Rule & Unconstitutional Gun Control

Everything at the Federal level primarily relies on this right now. The House is a foregone conclusion with Democrat control, so the Senate is the battleground for all gun control legislation, and though they have control…the filibuster and the attendant 60-vote margin required to overcome it presents an obstacle to the freedom grab. 

Manchin and Sinema have refused to back Schumer’s call to “go nuclear” on legislation, which would allow bills to pass the Senate by a simple plurality, instead of requiring the 60-vote, filibuster-proof margin—which for the record, the Democrats invoked nearly 400 times in recent sessions, as opposed to a handful by Republicans. 

The filibuster is apparently all good when it serves the ends of the left. In any case, getting to 60 votes on any anti-gun measures is a tall order at the Federal level, and actually gives us a good prognosis there…so keep up the calls and letters to keep anyone from wavering.

Unconstitutional Gun Control – Federal “Assault Weapons” Ban

At least in currently proposed formats, this measure does not currently have the support to get to 60 votes, and it would be a tough task to even get to 51. Especially with the influx of new firearms owners, this polls poorly, and correspondingly, doesn’t have much support in any current formats. This doesn’t mean that elected representatives shouldn’t be reminded about where you stand on this issue. They all need to understand that support for an AWB will be a career-ender. 

Some of the worst mass killings in this century have occurred in France, where private firearm ownership is almost completely prohibited…one using true assault rifles and explosives that are clearly already banned there, and another…with more significant loss of life and injury than any shooting event in US history, used a truck, in Nice. 

We need criminal control, not an attempt to deny the most effective means of self-defense to law-abiding citizens, especially when the firearms at the core of these proposals are responsible for fewer US deaths than knives, clubs, and bare hands.

Unconstitutional Gun Control – Federal Magazine Ban

Menendez recently broke out magazines into a separate bill as a stand-alone item. Unfortunately, magazine capacity restrictions poll well with people who otherwise don’t want restrictions but don’t really know much about guns.

They don’t realize that an individual who is intent and prepared to harm can easily carry and use a significant number of limited capacity magazines with little hindrance. At the same time, those defending themselves in a reaction to aggression are often limited to what’s in the firearm when they grab it. 

With over 300 million magazines of greater than 10-round capacity currently in circulation and a porous border, banning them will only limit access to the law-abiding. This one still doesn’t appear to have the steam to get to 60 votes, but if the Democrats, with the help of the press, try to leverage a tragedy in a grab to restrict freedoms, they will likely push the AWB, and when the votes aren’t there, move to, “Well at least ban mags… isn’t that reasonable?”

No, Chuck. It’s not. This one is absolutely worth writing about, as if they ever get the filibuster lifted, they will be counting votes on this one immediately.

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Unconstitutional Gun Control – Universal Background Checks

This is the one that they always tout as having “vast public support,” but usually from loaded questions, like, “Do you support preventing criminals from purchasing firearms?” and such. 

The problem is that every manner of implementation of universal checks creates a de-facto registry. Most of the UBC laws actually create criminality in the simple act of allowing a friend or relative to shoot or examine a firearm you own. 

Of course, they claim they don’t want to implement a registry, but with UBC in place, the next step to changing record-keeping and achieving that registry is a small one. UBC also allows the government to slow or stop all trade in firearms by defunding or delaying NICS checks. If you absolutely need a NICS check to proceed, and you can’t get a NICS check done…you have no recourse. We saw this play out when the NICS system was significantly overloaded last year. 

The other side of this is that we’ve seen numerous examples recently of violence committed by people who have either passed a background check and would have done so under the new proposed laws also. Or, someone who passed a background check due to the prosecutor’s plea bargaining or mental health records not being entered into the system. 

So, clearly, the attempt is to control all transactions and not actually prevent criminal possession, or more emphasis would actually be placed on enforcing and implementing, with accuracy, the current system. UBC has the closest to actual support at a 60-vote margin but still is not there in the current environment. 

The failure of background checks in recent events to stop purchases has not helped the case to implement them universally. If the filibuster goes away, this one likely has support to pass, so this definitely merits contacting representatives.

Unconstitutional Gun Control – Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA)

Much has been said about PLCAA protecting the firearms industry and the firearms industry being the only industry that can’t be sued, and that’s patently false. The firearms industry is still subject to EXACTLY the same tort liability as other industries that make products of any kind. 

Deliberately or negligently making something that creates injury or death when used legally and properly is still something you can be sued for. “Used legally and properly” is the key here. 

In the same way Ford can’t be sued if someone drives a car into a group of people (clearly a criminal act), firearms manufacturers, under regular old tort law, can’t be held responsible for criminal misuse of a product they legally made and sold in one of the most regulated industries around. 

All PLCAA does is state that principle as an affirmative defense because liberal judges were allowing dozens of junk lawsuits to go forward around the time of the expiration of the 1994 AWB. This was in a coordinated and deliberate attempt to bankrupt the gun industry by forcing them to respond to dozens of suits that they would eventually win on the merits of regular tort law, but potentially after lengthy and expensive appeals due to biased decisions in lower courts by activist judges. 

PLCAA repeal does not currently have enough support in the Senate to clear the 60 vote hurdle, but passage is a real threat if the filibuster is discarded.

Executive Orders & Unconstitutional Gun Control

The Executive orders from earlier this month actually stayed within the confines of the authority of executive orders, for the most part. There was some speculation that the administration would go full tilt outside the scope of authority and have to be challenged in the courts, but that did not occur. 

We are still stuck with regulatory interpretation changing what is legal without the consent of Congress or the People, in a process that has been permitted to get out of control with respect to unlegislated power. We will likely see some potential broad effects of regulatory overreach in the following measures, pending any legal remedy:

80% Reclassification

It has been legal to manufacture your own firearm, for your own purposes, since the country’s founding. This, like universal background checks, is about eliminating the ability of a Citizen to obtain a firearm without the government tracking and knowing about it—not about safety. 

The ATF could redefine at what point a slug of billet becomes a firearm, requiring control and serialization. The implications of this go beyond home builders, however. 

There has been an expressed desire to move serialization earlier in the manufacturing process of all firearms and serialize components besides the receiver. This would create massive compliance burdens to forging houses, barrel makers, and even raw materials suppliers, creating further deterrence to be in, and certainly to run a viable business in, the firearms industry. 

We should see their proposed rule by May 8, and then likely enter a public comment period, traditionally lasting 120 days. When this occurs, make your opinions known, and depending on what the rule is, this has a high probability of seeing legal challenge.

Arm Braces

The due date for a new proposed rule on “determining what is and is not a pistol with a brace attached” is June 8. What this will entail is anyone’s guess. 

This could be anything from a reinterpretation of the fundamental brace ruling, to a clarification on features or characteristics of certain brace-like products that the ATF may not consider, through their interpretation, to actually be braces, or anything in-between. An outright ban would likely see a legal challenge on ADA grounds, as well as others. 

Magpul Arm Braces

Some have speculated that an alteration to what is an AOW under the NFA might be expanded through interpretation to include anything with a forward hand gripping area, instead of the current vertical grip prohibition on pistols. 

None of it makes any sense, and the barrel length restrictions of the NFA are an anachronistic projection of unfounded fear into law, anyway. Once again, this one will have a public comment period where you should weigh in, traditionally 120 days, then a period of time for publication before any proposed rule would take effect, and legal challenge may follow.

State Level Issues

This is hard to keep up on. We are currently tracking legislation in WA, OR, CO, DE, IL, and a few other spots. The DE mag ban needs all DE residents to contact your senators to oppose. 

This was thought to initially be a foregone conclusion, but through a lot of effort, some Dems have realized this is both folly and unpopular. If you live in DE, make your voice heard, attend hearings, votes, make calls, and write letters. 

In CO, we are still unsure what the total package of measures proposed by the Dems will be. Repeal of local pre-emption law seems likely. Safe storage has passed. We don’t have a full statewide AWB to fight as of yet, but if something like that drops, it needs to be met with overwhelming public outcry to be stopped, and better yet…you need to let them know that you oppose both pre-emption cancellation and any form of AWB right now. 

There’s more, but at the risk of going long and with the number of measures to track and oppose, there are better resources to keep up on what is going on at the state level than my blathering. 

The various state organizations, ILA state alerts, GOA state alerts, and others provide a good source of staying informed on at least the existence of new anti-freedom legislation.

Fighting Unconstitutional Gun Control – In Conclusion

It’s a lot to keep up with and a lot to keep fighting against, but without being overly dramatic, the very country is at stake. Remember to also stay active at a local level! Support Sheriffs who are willing to take a stand, lobby at the local government level, engage with fellow citizens and neighbors. 

A lot of what the left is doing right now is simply meant to achieve the little inconveniences that continue to make it more and more difficult and regulated to become a gun owner, to attack and silence gun culture on social platforms and media. And by doing so, to decrease the number of citizens willing to put up with the hassle of jumping through ever-increasing hoops. 

If they do this, they know they will eventually have the numbers to enact their goals, with too few of us left to oppose them. Take someone shooting. Take someone hunting. Know and understand the benefits of Pittman-Robertson funds and the billions of dollars provided for conservation through firearms and ammunition. 

Keep the faith, and keep up the fight. Future generations depend on our unwavering diligence, especially in the face of the adversity currently aligned against us.

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Editor’s note: A tremendous thanks to Duane Liptak for taking time out of his busy schedule to help with this article.

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