Michigan has long been a pro-gun state. The last half-dozen or so pro-gun measures voted on in the state legislature have passed overwhelmingly.But Michigan has a Senator who doesn’t vote for gun rights: Carl Levin.Levin has a long anti-gun voting record. He voted against protecting gun manufacturers against lawsuits designed to bankrupt them. He voted to impose more regulations on guns shows. He opposed prohibiting government from confiscating guns. Levin offered an amendment to make it impossible for gun manufacturers to file for bankruptcy. Levin supported the ban on so-called “assault weapons”. He has F ratings for both the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America.But perhaps Levin’s most outrageous attack on gun rights is not widely known.The issue was a provision of the 2001 defense authorization bill passed shortly after 9/11. This provision involved the “demilitarization” of former military weapons. An NRA alert explains the issue.
This week, the U.S. Senate passed S. 1438, the Department of Defense (DoD) annual authorization bill, which contains a provision that is of grave concern to hunters and sport shooters. Section 1062 of this bill provides the Secretary of Defense with the authority to require “demilitarization” of any “significant military equipment” that has ever been owned by the DoD. This would include all firearms (such as the venerable M1, M1 Carbine, and Model 1911, as well as all Civilian Marksmanship Program rifles, even “sporterized” surplus bolt-action Springfields!), firearm barrels, ammunition, and gun powder. “Demilitarization” is the term for rendering such items permanently inoperable, and Sec. 1062 allows for this action to be carried out either by the owner or a third party, with the owner paying the cost, or by the DoD. However, if the DoD determines it should perform the demilitarization, it can also determine that the cost of returning the demilled item is prohibitive, then simply keep the item, and reimburse the owner only for the fair market scrap value of the item.Furthermore, this new authority would require private citizens to determine for themselves if an item they own is subject to demilitarization, and face criminal penalties for non-compliance. The DoD would be under no obligation to notify law-abiding citizens that items they have lawfully owned for years, and perhaps that their families have owned for generations, are suddenly subject to forced demilitarization. This becomes extremely significant when one considers that U.S. military surplus has been regularly?and legally?bought, sold, and traded for centuries. Countless Americans own items that could be subject to Sec. 1062. It is likely millions of law-abiding Americans would be affected, and could unknowingly become criminals overnight without having done anything or having ever been informed.
The provision was passed by the Senate, then under democrat control, but was stripped out of the corresponding bill in the House, which was under Republican control. Then, as now, Michigan Senator Carl Levin was Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was one of the negotiators in the conference committee to iron out the differences between the two bills.Levin fought to protect the provision and offered several “compromises” attempting to preserve it. A GOA alert relates that
Senator Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, wants this confiscation provision in the bill. Because of gun owners like you have raised a fuss about this provision, Levin has been forced to offer compromise language.BUT MAKE NO MISTAKE, THIS COMPROMISE WILL STILL LET THE GOVERNMENT CONFISCATE PRIVATELY OWNED FIREARMS!!!Thus, it is imperative that you contact Sen. Warner again and let him know that the anti-gun Levin compromise is just that — it is anti-gun!Sen. Levin has inserted some “exceptions” into his language in order to assuage conservatives and make them think that private gun owners will be protected. But the exceptions are VERY limited and will not cover all the different ways that individuals have acquired surplus firearms and militaria.
The provision was eventually stripped out of the bill. A later GOA alert concludes
Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) made several attempts to keep the provision by offering compromise after compromise, but the loud outcry from grassroots activists strengthened the bargaining position of pro-gun legislators.
Make no mistake. Carl Levin fought hard to give government the authority the confiscate and destroy millions of privately owned firearms. These firearms were based on military designs, but are no more dangerous than any other civilian firearms. They include some of the hunting rifles that democrats claim to like so much. Adding insult to injury, this provision, which Carl Levin fought so hard to protect, was almost smuggled through shortly after the attacks of 9/11.It is clear from his actions that Carl Levin is no friend of gun owners. Gun owners shouldn’t reward Carl Levin with another term in office.On the Issues: Carl Levin on Gun ControlJim Zumbo: Jim Zumbo Letter to the U.S. Senate Opposing a Ban on “Assault Weapons”National Rifle Association: Congress Considers “Demilitarization” RequirementThe Washington Times: Bill provision has military collectors up in armsGun Owners of America: Sen. Warner Still Holds the Key to Stopping Confiscation of FirearmsGun Owners of America: Sen. Smith Announces Victory on Gun “Demil” ProvisionGun Owners of America: Backdoor Gun Control To Be Voted On In The Senate