The Ruger Mini-14 Ranch Rifle is pictured above. It is a scaled-down version of the military M-14 used in the early years of the Vietnam war, and chambered in .223 Remington, a cartridge very similar to 5.56NATO. Sans the high-capacity magazine pictured, this semi-automatic rifle is perfectly legal to purchase in California. This simple fact reveals the utter incoherence of our regulations here in the Golden State.
The original California assault weapons ban prohibited further acquisition of semi-automatic rifles that had both an easily detachable magazine (limited to ten rounds) and one or more “evil features.” These features include such sundries as a pistol grip, a muzzle brake, or a forward grip. Most are primarily ergonomic improvements. Our exemplar firearm normally comes with no features on the list, so it is legal to own in California. The lethality or utility of the firearm is not in question: the criminal Michael Platt used a Mini-14 to deadly and tragic effect in the 1986 Miami FBI shootout. However, add a simple aftermarket stock to the Mini-14 (such as this one) and the weapon magically becomes illegal. The magazine size has not changed. The barrel is the same. The bolt is the same. The lethality of the weapon has not changed. It does look considerably more scary, sure, but it is essentially the same firearm.
Some time after the California AWB, clever people invented the bullet button. This device covered the magazine detach button, forcing the operator to use a tool to remove the magazine. This legally transformed detachable magazine situations to an attachable-fixed magazine situation. While still very inconvenient, this invention allowed California gun owners to have AR-15- and AK-type rifles. This weapons would be inferior to the Mini-14, but still serviceable, and safer to use than fixed-magazine variants that require weapon disassembly to clear jams or reload. However, they do look like their more-useful military and free-state cousins – that is to say, scary.
Recently, the right of Californians to own even these crippled but ergonomic rifles has come under further attack. A CBS article inspired some new legislation to ban the bullet button. Mr. Yee is absolutely terrified that civilians could own these “military-style” weapons, but seems to be missing the point completely. These weapons are less lethal than the legal Mini-14! Further, a brief look at the history of this Ruger firearm shows that it too is a “military-style” weapon, along with the M1A and the M1 Carbine – all legal, all military. I can’t find any instances of a bullet button-equipped M16 or AK47 having been used in a crime. The Mini-14 has at least as much killing power as an M16, and has been used in two high-profile crimes (1986 Miami and the Norway shootings). But again, even a crippled M16 or AK47 looks scary.
I would hope that those who seek to restrict our inalienable and pre-existing right to keep and bear arms would at least do some basic research to learn the capabilities and functions of what they would seek to ban. Unfortunately, these laws are driven by fear. The lack of knowledge on the part of the legislators is appalling. To be oppressed is never fun. To be oppressed by fools is truly depressing.