Editor’s note: This is the second of two parts on guns and gun control. The first part appeared in the February issue of the Central Valley Business Journal.
All it is right now is talk. And yet the current debate over the possibility of stricter gun control legislation is already having an effect. An effect, it is probably safe to say, that those in favor of more gun control laws never wanted or expected.
A recent report by Guns & Ammo magazine on gun and ammunition manufacturers says it all.
“S&W: Running at full capacity making 300 plus guns a day. They are unable to produce any more guns to help with the shortages.”
“REMINGTON: Maxed out.”
“ARMALITE: Maxed out.”
“DPMS: Can’t get enough parts to produce product.”
“AMMO: Every caliber is now allocated. We are looking at a nationwide shortage of all calibers over the next nine months.”
It is a report local gun shop owners and shooting range operators can back up firsthand.
“It’s just making everybody freak out and buy up everything they can,” said Jennifer Smith, owner with her husband of Fred’s Firearms in Modesto. “We don’t have any inventory. We can’t keep ammo and can hardly get handguns.”
This would seem to be good news for those in the business of selling guns and ammunition, but those in that business say it’s not.
“It’s actually putting a lot of gun shops out of business,” said Gary Mitchell of the Gunrunner Gun Shop and Shooting Range in Merced.
“They can’t get the product. Everybody dreams of having a product everybody wants,” Mitchell said, “but if the supply is not there, it doesn’t matter how much your customer wants it, you’re not making any sales. You’re not making any money.”
As for stricter gun control legislation, Smith doesn’t believe it can get any stricter without beginning to infringe on Second Amendment rights.
Mitchell has a different view. “It’s not the beginning of infringement,” he said. “It’s an extension of it.”
He cites regulations governing exactly what firearms can be bought and sold.
“If you have a gun that may be blue, for instance, and you have the exact same gun in a different color, you have to get that one approved, too,” he said.
The same holds true for any change in design.
“Let’s say they got a gun approved that’s got a 4-inch barrel. (Then they produce) the exact same gun; only it’s a 3-inch barrel. They’ve got to (get that one approved) as well.”
Smith is not a fan of such rules either.
“I feel that’s ridiculous,” she said. “I can see their reasoning behind some of the rules, but it’s not really working … because the criminals aren’t going to follow (the rules). They’re going to have high-capacity magazines and whatever kind of weapon they can get their hands on because it’s stolen anyway.”
As annoying as some of the regulations may be, however, they don’t come close to infringing on anyone’s rights, said John Sims, a law professor at the University of the Pacific’s Mc- George School of Law.
“In my view, we are nowhere near the limits of what the Second Amendment would permit,” Sims said. “Here’s how I would describe the situation: We encounter the political limits on gun regulation long before we encounter the constitutional limits.”
Sims said there is really only one element in the debate the Supreme Court has ruled on so far.
“And that’s to say the Second Amendment protects your right to have a gun at home to protect yourself and your home,” he said. “I’m sure it doesn’t mean that you’re entitled to have a machine gun to protect your home, and I don’t think it means you’re allowed to carry a gun around with you so that in case you get in a traffic accident you can settle things.”
One of the cases that brought this to the fore concerned a law in Washington, D.C., Sims said.
“D.C. had pretty much banned all handgun possession and all gun possession in the city,” he said. “So, once you’ve got the recognition of an individual right, that could be invalidated.” But such sweeping anti-gun legislation is the exception rather than the rule, Sims said.
“Because of the political strength of those opposing gun regulation, it seems to me very unlikely that we’re going to see gun regulations that would be subject to any serious challenge under the Second Amendment. Any statute that would get that far would never be passed in the first place.”
It is an issue that has the attention of the Manteca Tea Party group. At their February meeting, members had a panel discussion on guns and gun control with Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion and Robert and Mark Davis, owners of Elite Arms and Supply in Manteca.
According to David Marks, chairman of the Manteca Tea Party, the chief broke the gun problem down into two areas.
“One is people don’t want to be responsible for their guns, criminals are breaking into houses and getting the guns,” Marks said. “The other part is that responsible owners aren’t causing the problems, it’s society that’s causing the problems. It’s the bad guys who are causing the problems.”
But, say those who deal with guns, it’s the responsible owners who are affected by the laws.
“It’s not like a criminal is going to go register a rifle or something,” said Smith. “So, all the gun regulations are doing is affecting the law-abiding citizens. It’s not affecting the criminals whatsoever.”