Given that a new gun control bill will soon be introduced in the Senate, which guns might you buy for prepping and survival purposes? This post will consider your options both before and after the bill passes. Now I know that some commentators are saying that no bill will pass at all, but I doubt that very much. The bill proposed by Senator Feinstein is very restrictive, more so than current laws in CA and MA, so it is certain to be modified before being voted on. But I think it is inevitable that some type of new federal gun control will become law soon.
Fortunately, Prep-Blog has learned that the current version of the Feinstein bill lacks a provision, found in some early drafts, that would have authorized Senator Diane Feinstein to show up in person at your front door, look over your guns, and arbitrarily decide which ones you could keep. Whew! I’m glad they took that out of the bill. But it think this proposed law still needs some work.
Before the bill passes, one of the main issues is availability. Many gun stores have sold out of the guns that are most likely to be restricted. You would have a hard time finding an AR15 or high-capacity magazines. Even guns that probably will not be banned are hard to find. And you can’t simply back-order the gun, because it might be banned before it arrives. Over at JP, Inc., they are saying that if you order an AR, and a new gun law is imminent, they will try to ship the lower (which is legally the firearm) before the law takes effect, and then send you the upper (which is not a firearm) afterward.
But even if you can find a soon-to-be restricted firearm, and take possession of it before the law becomes effective, you could face serious problems. Feinstein has said her bill will grandfather in those firearms already owned before the law goes into effect. But there is some indication that a new law might treat grandfathered weapons as if they were NFA (i.e. they fall under the restrictions of the National Firearms Act). This would require owners go through the NFA procedure with the ATF: form, photos, fingerprints, tax stamp, etc. Millions of gun owners would have to go through that process just to keep their newly-banned guns. Now that provision might not make it into the final law. But you should consider the possibility.
Grandfathered guns will probably be under heavy restriction, making it very difficult to sell or transfer them to a new owner. So your expensive new AR suddenly loses much of its resale value.
After the law takes effect, which gun should you buy? Availability will still be a problem for a while. But let’s assume that, after a few months, the buying frenzy calms down. We don’t know what the new law will look like, because every controversial proposed bill will undergo many changes before being passed into law. But it seems clear that ARs will be highly unavailable, and many semi-automatic rifles will be (unfairly) treated as if they were ARs.
Lever-action rifles are one possibility. They are not considered semi-automatic, so they will likely avoid most restrictions of any new law. However, the 10-round magazine limit might still apply. Some lever-actions take more than 10 rounds, but typically these guns have barrels longer than 20 inches. For example, Uberit offers lever-action rifles with 24-inch barrels that take 13+1 rounds. But the shorter barrel rifles are handier; they are lighter, better balanced, and quicker to point and shoot. So you are not disadvantaged by getting a lever-action with an 18 to 20 inch barrel.
One significant problem with lever-action rifles and tubular magazines is the number of round that a .357 magnum/.38 special lever-action will take. A gun that is listed as holding 10+1 rounds of .357 magnum will usually load 11+1 rounds of .38 special (see this example). So even though the gun is advertised as 10+1, it might possibly run afoul of new gun control restrictions on mag capacity. So you might want to inquire of the manufacturer how many rounds a lever-action rifle will accept in each caliber.
Bolt-action rifles are not likely to face much in the way of new restrictions. The capacity of the magazines is typically less than 10 rounds. These guns are not semi-automatic, since you have to work the bolt between shots. Bolt-actions are well-suited for hunting, since they tend to be more accurate than ARs and, in the right caliber, they typically meet all state requirements for hunting guns. The new 783 from Remington in .308 would be a sweet gun for hunting medium game.
However, bolt-actions are problematic for self-defense. The first shot from a bolt-action .308, for example, is going to be accurate and powerful. One shot, on target, will probably stop an attacker threatening your life. But the second shot is not so quick. Most shooters are not experienced enough to be able to work the bolt and get off a second shot very quickly. If you miss with the first shot, or if you face multiple attackers, you are seriously hampered by the bolt-action system.
It looks like shotguns will have a more severe magazine capacity restriction: 5+1 for shotguns, rather than the 10+1 that applies to other guns. But a pump action shotgun gets to the second shot quicker than a lever-action, and much quicker than a bolt-action. And, as long as the shotgun does not load from a magazine (like a Saiga), it might avoid the more severe restrictions that apply to ARs.
Now 5+1 might seem like too great a restriction for a self-defense gun (well, it probably is), but each full-powered shell fired from a 12-gauge is a one-shot bad-guy stopper. And reloading is fairly quick. You might also get one of those shell holders that fits on the shotgun, so that extra rounds are handy to reload, if necessary. That should handle most home-defense/self-defense type situation quite well.
It is not clear how much any new gun control law will restrict semi-automatic handguns. Will a 9mm with a 10-round magazine still be legal, if it is “capable of accepting” a high-cap mag? Not sure. If semi-automatic handguns are generally still legal, they are well-suited for self-defense in the home. They are much easier to use than long guns in tight spaces and around corners. A well-aimed follow-up shot is quick, and 10 rounds are sufficient for the vast majority of self-defense shootings. But of course they are not generally good for hunting (unless you are Ted Nugent with a 10mm).
Revolvers will likely remain mostly untouched by any new law. A six-shot revolver in .38 special is a good choice for self-defense for an inexperienced shooter. The gun is relatively low recoil, and revolvers are very reliable.
But accuracy with any handgun, at any distance beyond near-point-blank range, requires skill and practice. I’d be more comfortable with a long gun in a self-defense situation. (I’m not a very good shot with a handgun.)
The Feinstein bill proposes to close certain loopholes in the Clinton-era ban by specifically forbidding ‘bullet button’ magazine releases and ‘thumbhole’ stocks. This means that AR manufacturers might not be able to design an AR that avoids the restrictions. However, it is possible that manufacturers and their lawyers will figure out new loopholes, so that some type of AR can avoid the ban. What such a gun would look like is not clear.
P.S. Should the federal government ban “clips” of more than 10 rounds? I’d be happy if they do, since I don’t use high-capacity “clips”. I use magazines.
New York State has passed an even more restrictive law:
“Ammunition magazines would be restricted to seven bullets, from the current 10, and current owners of higher-capacity magazines would have a year to sell them out of state. An owner caught at home with eight or more bullets in a magazine could face a misdemeanor charge.” (Foxnews)
“The New York Assembly gave final approval to the bill late Tuesday afternoon — Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed it within minutes.” (Foxnews)