Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Handguard Ban of 2013

Still from C-SPAN video

Dianne Feinstein sat before a Senate committee yesterday and outlined the details of her new proposed Assault Weapons Ban of 2013.  While watching the video on C-SPAN something caught my attention.

At 4:15 in the C-SPAN video an aide behind Mrs. Feinstein unveiled a cue card that displayed a semi-automatic AR15 rifle made by Colt Firearms.  Of course the first thing that I noticed was that Mrs. Feinstein had labeled the rifle as an Assault Rifle and not an Assault Weapon.  The accepted definition of an "assault rifle" is a rifle that is capable of semi-automatic OR fully-automatic fire.  As usual, Mrs. Feinstein is purposely trying to confuse the issue.

The term "assault weapon" was coined by Mrs. Feinstein and crew back in 1993 when they were working on the original Clinton era ban.  It was intended to describe not only "assault rifles" (modern sporting rifles like the AR15) but carbines, pistols and shotguns with certain evil features.  It too was also intended to confuse the issue and to instill fear in the uneducated by linking semi-automatic firearms (rifles, pistols and shotguns) to military assault rifles which were already heavily regulated, or banned, at the time.

The next thing I noticed was the "barrel shroud".  Right below the description for a "barrel shroud" a big red arrowed pointed towards the handguard of the rifle.  What?  I thought to myself, "Is she really this ignorant or is she trying to accomplish something else here?"  That's not a "barrel shroud", that's a handguard!

Brown Bess Musket
The handguard of a rifle is a necessary feature that's been used to protect the shooters hand since the musket was invented.  No one in their right mind would grab a bare barrel when shooting a firearm, not even a musket much less a semi-automatic rifle.  The heat generated by firing the rifle would quickly make touching the barrel not just uncomfortable but unsafe.  With only a few rounds fired a shooter would get 2nd or even 3rd degree burns from grabbing a bare barrel.  The handguard isn't an optional item, it's a necessity for the safe operation of any rifle.

I thought for sure this had to be a mistake, perhaps an aide that knows even less about firearms than Mrs. Feinstein was to blame.

Seeking clarity and trying to find the source of this confusion I opened my copy of the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 which is available on Mrs. Feinsteins website and searched for "barrel shroud".  There it was on page 11, the definition of a barrel shroud:
15 ‘‘(38) The term ‘barrel shroud’—
16 ‘‘(A) means a shroud that is attached to, or
17 partially or completely encircles, the barrel of a fire18
arm so that the shroud protects the user of the fire19
arm from heat generated by the barrel; and
20 ‘‘(B) does not include—
21 ‘‘(i) a slide that partially or completely en22
closes the barrel; or
23 ‘‘(ii) an extension of the stock along the
24 bottom of the barrel which does not encircle or
25 substantially encircle the barrel.
Model 1917 Enfield
I was floored.  She has described a modern front handguard to the letter.  She really is trying to make the handguard that (1) evil feature that when coupled with a detachable magazine makes the firearm an "assault weapon/rifle" under the new AWB bill.

The musket would be excluded from this definition as the front handguard only encompasses 1/2 of the barrel... although is 1/2 "substantial"?  However the 1917 Enfield, 1903 Springfield, M1 Garand, M1 Carbine, Mini-14, AR15, AK, etc. all have "barrel shrouds" as defined by the AWB of 2013.

Couple this with the fact Mrs. Feinstein also bans grenade launchers (already banned), rocket launchers (do not exist on rifles), and forward pistol grips on pistols (already banned) and we see that the AWB of 2013 is another example of poorly written knee jerk legislation.  The AWB of 2013 is intended to confuse the public and ultimately make firearms laws so convoluted that through interpretation by the ATF almost any semi-automatic firearm could be banned. 


  1. but would it hold up in court? assuming the worst comes to pass

    1. Most likely it would.
      SCOTUS did not say that we could not have restrictions just that the 2nd meant what it said.

      I can see them now, "well you dont "have" to have a detachable mag, you dont have to have a pistol grip, you dont have to have a barrel shroud of more than 1/2 the circumference of the barrel.

    2. - "Most likely it would.
      SCOTUS did not say that we could not have restrictions just that the 2nd meant what it said."

      You're overlooking the "common use" standard established in Heller (via dicta, but still observed by the lower courts). This banning of entire classes of firearms based on features that have been in common use since...well...just about forever would fail that test miserably.

  2. How much more Asinine can this possibly get?

  3. Why do we listen to these people . . . they work for the Corporation, not us!

    We have a Corporation "acting" as our government! We the People are flesh & blood! No contract can be made between unlike kinds!

    I choose to live in the Republic, not the Democracy corporation!

  4. Oh, and in the case YOU want to live in the Republic too . . . join us . . .


  5. The point is still valid of how dumb Feinstein's "barrel shroud" is, but if you are going to refer to a musket, you should post a pic of an actual musket, not of a muzzle loading rifle. The "musket" pictured above is an M1841 Mississippi RIFLE. It makes a difference in an article talking about inaccurate classification of specific weapons and features. A Springfield M1822 or even a Brown Bess would have been a better choice as they are actual muskets (smoothbores) and still have hand guards that cover half the barrel.

  6. Mark, all muzzleloading us service rifles were designated "Rifled Muskets" by the army. Technically, the photo is correct.

    1. I agree, you are correct. However, to avoid confusion I have replaced the previous image with a Brown Bess. That should clear things up.

  7. with go with the evil, militant barrel shroud again!! Watch out folks!! The shooter is more likely to kill people if he doesn't have to worry about burning his hand on a hot barrel!


  8. You're 100% correct as to the danger of an exposed barrel. I saw a kid when i was in boot camp that had a very serious 2nd degree burn on the back of his neck from his M16. I cant say how other services do it, but in training at an Army range, when you are finished on the firing line the range control NCO will "rod" your barrel, you then break it open and always have the barrel pointing down range, he broke his open, threw it over his shoulder, then when he turned to walk off the range he turned the rifle to keep it pointed down range and in doing so laid the end of his barrel on the back of his neck. Dumb move yes, but it did burn him very severely. Banning handguards is akin to banning seatbelts in cars. Sure you can still operate them but it makes it inherently unsafe.