It looks like the U.S. Congress is willing and able to pass a new gun control law, one that also restricts large capacity magazines (LCMs). If the bill passes and if the new law is similar to the Clinton-era ban — I said “IF” — which types of guns that are well-suited for prepping might you own? This post considers your options, if new gun control legislation passes. Note well: State and local restrictions still apply, and this discussion is speculative opinion. The proposed bill has not been debated, amended, or passed yet.
Revolvers are one of the least likely guns to be restricted under any new law. The most commonly discussed limit for gun magazine capacity is 10 rounds. Revolvers typically have 5, 6, or 7 rounds, and the cylinder that contains the rounds is not really a magazine (although laws can re-define and re-categorize in odd ways). It is unlikely that new restrictions on guns will prohibit ownership of revolvers.
Semi-automatic pistols will likely be subject to a limit of ten rounds in the magazine. But Senator Feinstein, who authored the proposed bill, has said that it will not be “retroactive”. This might indicate that large capacity magazines purchased prior to the effective date of the law will still be legal — MAYBE. We can’t be certain what the final version of the bill will contain, as it has not been submitted or amended yet.
So why should we discuss this proposed bill before it is law? Because the law might allow ownership of banned magazines and banned guns purchased before the law goes into effect. So now is the time to consider your options.
Some States, like CA and MA, have further restrictions on pistols, beyond those of federal law. For example, Massachusetts requires a loaded chamber indicator. And both States publish a list of handguns that are legal to buy and sell in the State. If the federal law goes the same way, your choice of semi-automatic pistols and various types of long guns might suddenly narrow. A grandfather clause would make buying a new gun sooner, rather than later, a necessity — if you have your mind set on a gun-type that might not be legal to buy later.
The ten round limit on magazine capacity is reduced to 5 rounds in Massachusetts for shotguns. California has a strange “large capacity magazine” permit process. We don’t know how the federal law will be worded, but magazine capacity limits are very likely. If you are considering buying a shotgun for home defense, one with more than 5 rounds, you might want to buy now.
Other than the “buy now and hope for a grandfather clause” approach, what types of guns might be immune to a new ban?
Lever-action rifles with capacities of 10 or fewer rounds are likely to remain unaffected by a new gun ban. See our article Lever-action Rifles for Self-defense. I opine that a lever action rifle shooting .357 magnum or .44 magnum rounds would be very effective for home defense. As long as the gun has no pistol grip, no folding stock, no threaded barrel, nor any of the other features that legislators consider to be suitable for banning, the lever-action rifle should remain legal (probably).
A pump action shotgun, with no pistol grip, no folding stock, and a 5 round capacity is likely to remain legal under new federal restrictions. The popular Remington 870 and Mossberg 500 series shotguns, in most versions, will, I think, still be legal even if a new federal gun control law passes. Sure, for home defense, you might prefer more than 5 rounds. But 5 shells of any of the 12-gauge Top Self-defense Shotgun Loads should cover most home defense situations.
The Marlin Model 60 has a magazine capacity (currently) of 14 rounds. Yet the gun is still legal in Massachusetts because it uses the .22LR caliber and has a tubular magazine. So MA does not consider it to be a high-capacity magazine. Here’s hoping that the federal law will have a similar exemption. This type of rifle is simply not a good gun for committing crimes. But it is an excellent prepping gun, in my opinion. If this type of gun is not exempted, perhaps Marlin will revise the gun to have only 10 rounds in the magazine.
Clever versions of AR-15s were devised by gun manufacturers to defeat the Clinton-era ban as well as the continuation of similar restrictions in CA, MA, and other localities.
Over the years, more methods of getting around the ban have become commercially available. So I suggest that a simple return to that same ban will be even less effective than the original law. But supposing that the new law is like the old one, it seems likely that a number of AR-15 models will be “ban-compliant”. Smith and Wesson currently sells “ban compliant” M&P15 rifles that are legal in CA, MA, and other States. So you might, and I emphasize ‘might’, still be able to buy an AR-15 type rifle under a new gun control law.
I’m not against gun control or further restrictions on guns. I favor restrictions on large capacity magazines. But I don’t want to see restrictions imposed that have no real effect on reducing gun crime. And I’m skeptical that banning certain rifle “features” will reduce criminal use of those guns. We will have to wait and see what the new proposed legislation will contain, and how it might be amended as it goes through the legislative process. Who know what federal legislators, in their infinitesimal wisdom, might pass into law.
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