I realize I may be telling you something you already know, but I want to highlight this quote from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives:
Based on Section 921(a)(3), air guns, because they use compressed air and not an explosive to expel a projectile, do not constitute firearms under Federal law — unless they are manufactured with the frames or receivers of an actual firearm. Accordingly, the domestic sale and possession of air guns is normally unregulated under the Federal firearms laws enforced by ATF.
In other words, and barring any kind of state legislation that might say otherwise, an air rifle can be mailed straight to your door, no background checks required, no questions asked, no paperwork (aside from the actual invoice, of course) necessary.
Of course, when I say “air rifle”, the vast majority of people probably think something along the lines of this:
Well, allow me to reproduce a portion of an article that came with a recent catalog from Pyramid Air:
In fact, a modern big bore air rifle that shoots a 500-grain .45-caliber bullet at half the muzzle velocity of a centerfire buffalo rifle will still shoot all the way through a 2000-lb. bison, sideways, exiting on the far side. Unless vital organs are hit, that animal will not drop anytime soon. But, hit the heart of a full-grown bison with a .45-caliber air rifle bullet, and it’s just as effective as the same bullet driven twice as fast from a .45/70. Both bullets pass entirely through the animal and do major damage if they hit vital organs or large bones.
Stephan Boles (right) dropped this bison with a Quackenbush .458 Long Action. His bullets passed entirely through this large animal. This hunt was guided by Eric Henderson. Photo provided by Eric Henderson.
The full story of the hunt is available here.
The Quackenbush .458 Long Action Outlaw Air Rifle can launch a 430 grain bullet at 732 feet-per-second at the barrel, translating to 509 foot-pounds of energy. For comparison, the once-ubiquitous Springfield Model 1873 could launch a 405gr bullet at 1394ft/s with an energy of 1748ft-lbf; for a more-direct analog, the energy output of the Outlaw is equivalent to some hotter loadings for .45 ACP.
And lest you think this is a new development, the Girandoni air rifle was employed by the Lewis and Clark expedition in 1804 for hunting deer with its 20-round magazine and 30-round air tank. Regardless, the Outlaw air rifle shoots exactly the same bullet as a .45-70 Trapdoor, and can achieve exactly the same end results.
And the Outlaw can be delivered straight to your door, no questions asked, no background checks executed.
So remind me how “universal” background checks are so necessary to ensure everyone’s safety? When anyone can go out and purchase an air rifle that can, quite literally, longitudinally perforate a buffalo, do we really care who can buy a .22 bolt-action rifle? To unironically quote our former Secretary of State, “What difference does it make?” When you can literally build a functioning firearm out of a shovel and spare parts, or when you can go out and mail-order a device that can put a buffalo in the dirt, or when barely-skilled laborers can craft frankly-terrifying firearms out of spare bits of scrap metal in their huts with scant more than hand tools, are you so stupid as to really think having to undergo a pointless and blatantly unconstitutional background check is going to serve as a functional impediment to someone looking to procure a means of killing someone at a distance?
The simple fact is “universal” background checks simply will not work, even looking past alternative methods for procuring ranged weapons. Firstly, criminals will continue to steal firearms, and a black market will continue to exist where those stolen / illegally procured firearms are sold and passed around. Secondly, without a universal registry of firearms, there is absolutely no way to prove whether or not a firearm was transferred before the “universal” background check law was passed, and, as such, people will keep selling firearms privately regardless of the law. Thirdly, both “universal” background checks and firearm registries will be met with massive civil disobedience, as they already are.
For heaven’s sake, states are not even bothering to prosecute background check failures as it is right now; how will adding more failures to the system make a difference?
If you do not know who owns what firearms (and you do not), if you cannot know who sold whom what firearm (and you cannot), and if you cannot stop people from selling each other firearms (and you still cannot), exactly what good are “universal” background checks?
Well that is an easy question to answer:
I admit that I have no bothered to wade through all 18 pages of I-594, but everything I have read from people better-versed in legalese than me who did leads me to believe that the above flow chart is more-or-less accurate.
As you can see, “universal” background checks like I-594 are plainly crafted to accomplish one thing, and one thing only – create more felons. Criminals will simply look at that nightmarish graphic and go, “F*ck it, I’ll get my gun from Tommy down the street,” and that is it. But if my wife were to go to the range with my parents and one were to hand the other a firearm… congratulations! They both just committed a misdemeanor. A couple of range trips like that, and, congratulations, they are both now felons.
All the while, criminals will steal their guns, or buy them on the black market, or, bizarrely enough, buy air rifles that are more than capable of killing a person if someone were to choose to do that. And while criminals are continuing to prey on increasingly defenseless victims, as more and more otherwise law-abiding citizens fall victim to byzantine idiocy like the image above, anti-rights cultists will pat themselves on the back and proclaim a job well done. After all, the “gun control” movement cannot remain relevant if firearm-related crime were to drop, and what better way to prevent that than make it functionally impossible to remain law-abiding?
I continue to oppose background checks, of any type, because they are morally and Constitutionally wrong, but the simple fact is the accomplish nothing at all (aside from making a few statists feel better about themselves for “doing something”), and anyone who tries to convince you they do is either lying or clueless themselves.
In any case, I-594 was the straw on my parents’ back – they are abandoning Washington state in the near-ish future, but given all the other idiotic laws that have been passed while they lived there (for example, the state laying claim to all rain water and banning rain barrels), I cannot blame them in the slightest. And, hell, I do not hunt and have absolutely no plans of ever starting, but I kind of want one of those Quackenbush Outlaws myself… it would be a nice complement to the Trapdoor Carbine I already have.