In a direct sense, President Bush’s ban did not affect mostrngunowners. The guns in question were arcane semiautomaticrnversions of European battle rifles that had, up until the time ofrnthe ban, been gathering dust and losing value on distributors’rnshelves, like Fabrique Nationale FAL’s, Heckler & Koch 91 ‘s,rnand Steyr AUG’s. Guns of this ilk, and their lower-cost domesticrnequivalents, had not sold well since the enthusiasm for thern”survivalist” movement, spontaneously started during thernCarter administration, fizzled out at the beginning of the Reaganrnpresidency. Far from being criminals’ “gun of choice,” “assault”rnrifles did not even warrant mention in the FBI’s 1988rnUniform Crime Report. In fact, the report shows that in 1988,rnmore people were punched to death than killed with rifles ofrnany kind, let alone “assault” rifles.rnThe much-maligned militiarnmovement, for the mostrnpart, did not exist prior to the passagernof the federal gun ban. In therneyes of a majority of the Americanrnpeople, the federal governmentrnhad broken the social contract andrnviolated the Constitution.rnWhile President Bush’s advisors may have correctly assessedrnthat the number of guns direcdy affected by the import banrnwas mii^imal, this singularly stupid act of betrayal galvanizedrnAmerica’s gunowners. For the first time, gunowners werernforced to consider the purpose and scope of the SecondrnAmendment and the role of the free armed citizen—the “wellrnregulated militia”—in maintaining a free society. Americansrnhad always kept fighting guns. In fact, the federal government,rnthrough the office of the Director of Civilian Marksmanship,rnwas historically the largest supplier of fighting weapons andrntraining to the citizenrv. Several million semiautomatic rifles,rncarbines, and pistols were transferred from the military to thernindividual citizens who make up the militia through the DCMrnprogram. Yet now the American gunowner was being told byrnthe leader of the very government he had always felt loyal tornthat ex post facto he was a potential threat to the security of hisrncountry. Terms of disarmament to be discussed.rnOf course, not all the diverse factions that make up the “gunrnlobby” were instantly purified and united by President Bush’srnlittle “Pearl Harbor” attack. For example, at the time, manyrnskeet and trap shooters adopted a “go ahead and ban them” attituderntoward the abolition of semiautomatic rifles. Huntersrngot snared in the “legitimate sporting purposes” trap, and nornone seemed to want to defend those little bullet hoses knownrnoptimistically as “assault pistols.” The gun-grabbers wiselyrnstayed well away from any mention of banning handguns, arnfailed concept that cost them mightily in the 70’s. Instead, in arnstroke of true polemic brilliance, the gun-grabbers created arnnew category of hate gun, the assault weapon.rnLike pornography, an assault weapon is both indefinable andrnawkward to defend. As a military or firearm “term of art,” therernis no such category as “assault weapon.” Unlike an assault riflern(a rifle capable of fully automatic fire and chambered for a reducedrnpower round), there is simply no such thing as an assaultrnweapon, and that’s the beauty of the concept. No one wouldrnthink he owns one, and the weak sisters in the gun lobby wouldrnbe as reluctant to defend something branded an assault weaponrnas they were to block the ban on bogus “Cop Killer bullets.”rnLike the “Saturday Night Special” nonsense, a huge number ofrnguns could be incorporated into the definition of an assaultrnweapon. Better yet, the definition could be left open-ended;rnindividual guns could be declared to have no legitimate sportingrnpurpose bv an impartial government agent like Janet Reno.rnFortunately for the Republic, this strategy backfired as morernand more gunowners realized that Howard Metzenbaum andrncompany considered their grandfather’s Model 12 shotgun anrnassault weapon. Finally, gunowners began to unite, drawn togetherrnby the realization that the icon of the left, Mao Tsetung,rnwas correct about at least one thing: all power does flowrnfrom the barrel of a gun. The leaders of the gun control movementrnhad always known this, and like all tyrants, had nothingrnless than total disarmament in mind.rnBehind the seemingly benign facade of crime control, thernleaders of the antigun movement have always sought therneventual prohibition of the private ownership of firearms.rnMichael Beard, founder of the National Coalition to BanrnHandguns, has assured us that in his Brave New World, gunrnownership will be permitted, at the local state-run shootingrnrange. Nearly 20 years ago in the New Yorker, Handgun ControlrnIncorporated founder Pete Shields was frank about the necessityrnfor “incremental” steps to the ultimate goal of “total gunrncontrol.” At a party celebrating the passage of the Brady Bill,rnSarah Brady was asked what she would do now that her workrnwas done. Not to worry, she assured the questioner, “we havernmany other things to do.” And indeed, Brady II was wheeledrnout the next day. It included, among other things, a requirementrnthat an)’ gunowner who possessed more than 20 guns orrn1,000 rounds of ammunition or primers, obtain an “arsenal license”rnfrom the BATP”. The license would allow this federalrnrevenue collection bureau to “inspect” your home twice a yearrnto insure compliance.rnSuccessful domestic disarmament requires a carefully incrementedrnapproach. The steps should be designed to sell thernconcerned citizen on the benevolence of the program whilerncapitalizing on the fact that most people are physical and moralrncowards. He should feel good about voluntary compliance.rn”Giving up this little freedom is a small price we must pay forrn’security’ in the modern world.” The public will be taught thatrnnothing really bad happens after compliance. As their fears arernassuaged, they will become increasingly apathetic even in thernface of ever more restrictive legislation. One should keep inrnmind that the ultimate goal of the legislative effort must be therncompilation of a list or database linking gunowners with theirrnguns. The creation of The List will help insure compliancern22/CHRONICLESrnrnrn