Biloxi, Mississippi – (AmmoLand.com) - Flip through a catalog, if you can still find one, or browse the website of most of your favorite manufactures and you’ll find pages or sections with products highlighted as “California Legal” or “Massachusetts Approved” or some similar verbiage. Those who live in free America might think these listings are a bit odd. You might be asking yourself, just what is so special about this firearm or that, that is must be marked as “CA Compliant”?
Webster tells us that to be ‘compliant’ means to be submissive, yielding or obedient. Ergo, for those in the audience who still have a grasp of the English language, when a company lists a product as “California Compliant” they are essentially stating that they have prostrated themselves before the territorial government. Said company is willfully being submissive and yielding to the whims of the bureaucrat. They are willing to be obedient in order to sell their wares within the borders of the state in question.
With the previous fact established, what other admissions can be taken away from this situation? If a firearms manufacturer deliberately modifies an existing product to specifically meet the requirements of one or two states, if they are compliant, what do their actions tell us? Can we assume that by modifying a product to acquiesce to the whims of California, New York, Massachusetts, etc. that said product is somehow flawed in its original state?
Big deal, you might say. Who cares if gun makers change or modify their firearms for this state or that? Their job is to sell guns, so let them sell guns any way they can. That is one way to look at the situation and would be completely legitimate if not for one little word; WHY. Why do California, New York, Massachusetts, and others have statutes prescribing that firearms be manufactured in a certain way? Do we have factual evidence backed by research and statistics that shows how guns without pistol grips or retractable stocks are more safe? Does the addition of a bayonet lug or a flash-hider increase the likelihood of the gun being used in the commission of a felony? By changing a gun from standard capacity to reduced or limited capacity does it make that tool less lethal? Is it possible to murder someone with a gun that holds twenty cartridges but impossible to murder someone with a gun that only holds ten rounds in a fixed magazine?
When an intelligent and intellectually honest personal addresses the previous questions they would seem ridiculous if not preposterously childish. Pistol grips, retractable stocks, detachable magazines, bayonet lugs, and flash hiders enhance the handling characteristics and operation of the machine, but have never been shown to either increase or decrease violent crime in the United States. The next logical question would be, if these cosmetic features on a firearm do not make them safer or less safe then why are we concerning ourselves with them?
Whatever area of business or politics you examine, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, the back room deals, its all about control. Who is in control? Who will control whom? When a state legislature passes some type of arbitrary ruling that a firearm must be configured this way or cannot be configured that way, they are exercising control. They are forcing private enterprise, and that is what gun companies are, into a position of even greater subservience and submission. Do these bureaucrats do so from genuine interest in public safety? If you answer honestly, it is no. Then why do it?
There is this little thing called precedence. You could also use the terms “establishing a narrative” or “setting the tone”. When a group of politicians get together and “set the terms” for how firearms can and cannot be manufactured they are essentially setting a precedent. Hollywood does this all the time. Fallacies and falsehoods are presented as facts and over time they are accepted as such by the masses, this despite the reality of the situation.
Gun registration is an excellent example of fallacy being presented as fact. In certain states, New York for example, lawful citizens must ‘register’ their handguns with the state. Because of this precedence, citizens in New York have a misconception that this registration policy is universal throughout the United States. Thanks to Hollywood, non-gun people or new gun owners assume that they have to ‘register’ their guns or that everyone who owns a gun must register it with the state.
When a state legislature and the sitting governor pass laws that dictate how a firearm must be configured or not, how much ammunition it can hold or not hold, they are setting the narrative that guns are bad, that guns are dangerous tools that must be regulated by the government and restricted in their use. By forcing compliance from firearms manufacturers, said government is establishing the precedent that, in their original form, certain firearms are too dangerous or prone to evil and must be controlled by the state.
Also, not to be taken lightly, although many of their actions would be prohibited by both the US Constitution and that of the particular state, these self-appointed members of the ruling class are establishing another precedent. That precedent being that they actually do have the authority to regulate private enterprise and to determine just what a citizen can and cannot own and what a manufacturer can and cannot make. Restrictive firearms laws and regulations set the tone that any government body does indeed have the authority to ban or prohibit firearms at their whim. We have witnessed that dangerous precedent for generations.
When it is suggested that firearms makers refuse to make guns that ‘comply’ with the thoughtless and empty regulations of certain states the word “fair” gets thrown around. It’s not ‘fair’ to punish the citizens for the actions of their government some will say. Why should we be punished? To that question I would ask, who elected and continues to elect the politicians who pass these empty, feel-good laws? If not the citizens of the state, then who?
Consider the case of the out of work, alcoholic brother-in-law living in your basement. As long as you keep complying with your brother-in-law, giving him free room and board, loaning him twenty bucks here and twenty bucks there, he will have no motivation to change his behavior. In clinical terms, you are an enabler, you enable your brother-in-law to continue his behavior. You think are you being the nice guy by giving your brother-in-law $20. You aren’t helping, you are hurting his chances for self-improvement.
As an industry, as long as firearms makers continue to make ‘compliant’ firearms they continue to enable bad behavior. Compliant guns are a tantamount admission that state bureaucrats can and should in fact dictate how products should be made and what private industry can and cannot do. By attempting to be the nice guy and produce reconfigured guns for the people of CA, MA, NY, etc. what we are in fact doing in perpetuating the problem and enabling the bad behavior. What’s worse, we are encouraging additional bad behavior in the form of new regulations and restrictions that have nothing to do with public safety but everything to do with control.
Although I fear that these words will fall on deaf ears, I felt compelled to present them. Corporate executives will attempt to placate ‘hot-headed’ customers who question their motivation and spinal status regarding the sale of “compliant” guns. These professional businessmen will explain that it is “complicated” and not so black and white.
As an educated adult with four plus decades under my belt, when someone tells me “it’s complicated” what my ears hear is “we are going to do what we want, go watch TV and leave us alone”. Saying “it’s complicated” or “it’s not that easy” are two convenient cop-outs that allow a person or company to take the easy way out. Falling back on “it’s complicated” allows a person to remain in their comfort zone and frees them from the need to make tough decisions.
For the “it’s complicated” crowd I would offer this. Every time you comply, every time you take the “reasonable” approach, you perpetuate and enable bad behavior. The firearms industry as a whole has been compliant and reasonable for fifty years. What has that compliance bought us? More restrictions, more regulations, and more demonization from a ruling class government and a sycophant media. Compliant guns simply help to tie the knot in the noose that will eventually be used to hang us. Compliant guns don’t help the people in California, et al. they hurt them by enabling and perpetuating their government’s bad behavior.
Take a stand, no more Compliant Guns!
About the Author
Paul Markel has been US Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard and a firearms industry writer for twenty years. He is the author of the new book “Student of the Gun; A beginner once, a student for life.” Paul hosts and produces “Student of the Gun” a show dedicated to education, experience, and enjoyment of firearms. Episodes of SOTG can be viewed by simply going to www.studentofthegun.com and clicking the “play” icon.