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Will A New Bayonet Redefine "Assault Weapons"?
An interesting and I’m going to assume unpopular concept was brought to my attention recently. This is not a piece containing legal advice but simply discussing some concepts which are important to ponder. I take in a lot of content and tips for stories. I happened upon an episode of Evan Nappen’s “Gun Lawyer Podcast”. In the episode Nappen himself even admits that what he’s going to discuss will perhaps raise some eyebrows.
What’s Nappen talking about? Recently a company announced they are selling a new type of bayonet. The why this is important comes into play when looking at the different “assault weapon” or “assault rifle” laws in the country. As a refresher, in 1994 a bill was signed into law which, among other things, limited the “features” one may have on semi-automatic rifles. This is old news, as the law had a sunset provision, and expired in 2004. The pertinent section of that law will aid in understanding where there may or may not be issues going forward.
From the federal “Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994”.
That was the federal standard for ten years in the country. Many states also adopted either prior to, during, or after the passage of the 94′ law their own provisions regulating semi-automatic firearms.
From Massachusetts General Law Part I Title XX Chapter 140 Section 121: Firearms sales; definitions; antique firearms; application of law; exceptions:
Interestingly, if you visit the wikipedia page on the subject, they list the feature as a “bayonet lug“, which is not “the same meaning” noted in the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act. Bayonet mount is the verbiage used in the cited act. Perhaps that is splitting hairs, but it’s important to note since words have meaning.
From New Jersey Administrative Code Title 13 – LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY Chapter 54 – FIREARMS AND WEAPONS Subchapter 1 – FIREARMS PURCHASER IDENTIFICATION CARD AND PERMIT TO PURCHASE A HANDGUN § 13:54-1.2 – Definitions
From New York State Consolidated Laws Part 3 Title P Section 265.00
Maryland, Connecticut, California, and Hawaii are other states that regulate so-called “assault weapons” or “assault rifles”, but none of them make any mention of a firearm’s ability to accept a bayonet. Perhaps these states actually have it figured out that drive by bayonettings are just not all that common or that there are low instances of bodegas being robbed via bayonet wilding madmen.
A July 6th press release brings this full circle:
By now the hairs should be standing up on the back of the necks of any AR platform owners in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York. The laws note “bayonet mounts”, not “bayonet lugs”. Should you own an AR with a Picatinny Rail that will accept the bayonet, does that mean your rail is a “bayonet mount” if it runs to the muzzle of the firearm? That’s the compelling question that was brought up in the podcast:
I’m personally not a “sky is falling” Chicken Little type myself, but there is some really compelling information here. I’m well aware this is probably not a popular thing to talk about, but Nappen said it best early in the episode:
What does this all mean? That’s going to have to be for the reader to decide. Whether or not there is any weight or not to this concept is something you’ll have to decide on your own. Nappen discussed this from a New Jersey perspective, but you can see there are two other states that have substantially similar wording in their laws. Given the states discussed are Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York, I think we’d all be kidding ourselves to think that there is not an overzealous prosecutor out there that would not take an opportunity to capitalize on this situation.
The situation though does highlight the absurdity of these arbitrary laws in the first place. Joking about a grenade launcher attached to a firearm or drive by bayonettings is all good fun, but these are the ridiculous laws that so-called educated people put into effect. A telescoping stock is not a hazard to the public. None of the features listed do anything to make a firearm anymore or less lethal, contrary to what the talking heads, commie mommies, or some congresscritters will say. The evil features lists do nothing to contribute to public safety to the population at large what so ever. In fact, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 proved to have zero effect on curbing violent crime overall, with varied findings on the subject.
If you’re worried about the situation, seek legal advice from a trusted attorney in your jurisdiction, as this article is not legal advice. At minimum, this is something to think about. Interested in listening to Nappen’s episode “38 New Technology Turns Ar-15 Owners Into Instant Felons”? Tune in:
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