More Than 100 House Dems Urge Biden To Expand Gun Law To Cover Firearm Used In Boulder Shooting

More than 100 House Democrats have reportedly signed a letter from Reps. Joe Neguse (D-CO) and Mike Thompson (D-CA) to President Joe Biden urging him to expand the 1934 National Firearms Act (NFA) to include the gun used in the Boulder, Colorado shooting.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

I’m not so sure this is a great start for D’s. Instead of going right for certain hardware, I think we should hit the easiest and most widely accepted problems first: gun show and used gun sale loop holes and close mental health gaps. It’s absurd that mental health screening isn’t part of the approval process. This would be a much easier sell than starting with banning certain types of guns IMO. Pound the message that most of these mass shootings are mentally disturbed people. The problem is the shooters, not the guns and cut off most of the GQP’s protest arguments immediately.


This is weird but the entire premise of this article doesn’t seem to stand up. The Ruger AR-556 looks like a budget version of the AR-15. No way is it a pistol in any sense. If they mean you can disassemble these things enough to fit the parts in a backpack that might be the point.

ETA the letter asks that Biden ban the importation of semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity magazines. Nothing about the AR-556, pistols, or concealability is mentioned.


The letter pointed to a pistol (therefore smaller) version of the AR-15 known as the AR-556

This is the AR-556 Pistol. It is a specific model separate from the AR-556 (Which is already a lightweight carbine).

This is a pistol firing 5.56mm NATO ammunition, which is a rifle round. The weapon also comes from the manufacturer with a flash suppressor. Ruger will tell you that’s for hunting—so you don’t startle the prey—but this is a pistol.

A pistol with a carbine-length bolt, flash suppressor, and a 30-rnd standard magazine loading the same ammunition as an M4 carbine.

This is a weapon of murder.

Edit: @mattinpa - the AR-556 Pistol’s hidden on Ruger’s site in the pistols drop-down menu. Just popping it into a Google search won’t find it, because the carbine’s got better SEO… I suspect, on purpose.

Second Edit: Also, it’s got an SBA3 ‘pistol brace’. Do not be fooled. This is a 5-position telescoping stock for all carbine-length receivers. Pull it out, you’re a full-length carbine, waiting for the fire selection switch and firing pin to be replaced.


Good question. One view is yours. Another is that public support for (ostensible) “strong measures” is highest in the immediate aftermath of these massacres.


It is. Anything with less than a 16" barrel is a short-barrel rifle and subject to the 1934 restrictions.

Unless… You take the stock off the weapon, thus it can’t be shoulder-fired, then it’s a pistol.

And you add in a thing called a “pistol brace”, which looks very much like a stock, but it’s actually a brace invented by an Iraq amputee vet who wanted to be able to shoot his AR one-handed.



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That’s as may be but the letter says nothing about any of that.



I just happen to be familiar with the arguments about them, there’s been back-and-forth since they showed up on the market with the ATF wanting them to be classified as short-barreled rifles since people do put the pistol brace to their shoulders and judges telling them that because it’s not designed to be used that way specifically, it doesn’t count as a SBA and therefore legally can’t fall under those regulations.

Dems should be careful here, could end up giving the Supremes a crack at that 1934 act and everyone could finally buy the machine guns they’ve been wanting.


Yeah, it’s a serious case of the laws not keeping up with the technology.


Yup. And since the AR is modular, if someone wants to circumvent it anyway, they’d just buy a full 16" rifle, buy a short barrel (not regulated, since it’s just a part), and swap out the upper receiver group which involves popping out two pins and can be done in seconds.


OK just checked out the specs and the shortest it can get without disassembly is 24 inches. That’s bigger than the medium-sized day pack I use for fishing and photography. Doesn’t really fit the definition of “pistol” as most people would understand it, but of course legal definitions can be different. Seems like they’re trying to get short rifles (like civilian-modded “bullpups”) into the market for people who’ll pay to fantasize that they have a gun the shortness of which gives them the crucial added maneuverability when engaging in running firefights up and down the halls of their houses. :roll_eyes: Obviously nothing that helps you hide a weapon is great for society but this thing is only technically a pistol.


I’m all for mandatory, universal background checks for firearms transfers (yeah, I’m including gifts and inheritances as well as sales), but background checks will not address the issues. To the best of my knowledge, while the Boulder shooter has mental issues there was nothing there that would show up in a background check to stop the sale. The same is true of the Atlanta shooter. These guys could buy a gun and walk out with it the same day.

The most frightening thing about the mass shooters since 2015 or so is the use of long(er) arms. Pistols just don’t have the lethal effect of a rifle. Kinetic energy is mv2/2. The muzzle energy of an M9 (US Army issue pistol for officers and senior NCOs) is about 500 Nt-M. For comparison, the AR-556 referred to in the article has a muzzle energy of over 1,100 Nt-M. (Muzzle energies will vary with bullet weight and powder charge.) The rifle is carrying more than twice the kinetic energy of a pistol despite a bullet about half the weight. Just for comparison, the kinetic energy of the pistol round is roughly the same as a 100 lb weight dropped from waist height. The rifle bullet is a 200 lb weight dropped from waist height.

We need rules that slow down the acquisition of semiautomatic weapons with high-capacity magazines. Covering them as Class-II weapons under the NFA accomplishes that. It also results in the weapon being registered to its owner. I view that as a good thing, too.


Yeah, it’s why gun control measures need to not target specific models or features, but go after broad categories that aren’t easily evaded.

Right, but because of how pistols were made when the legislation was written, they really only care about barrel length. Basically, the idea of ‘let’s put a long-ass rifle chamber and receiver with a gas-blowback system into a pistol’ wouldn’t have really occurred to them.

Can’t be done. High-capacity magazines slot into the same port as low-capacity mags, and it’s not exactly hard to make them at home. A better approach would simply be to move all semi-automatic weapons with removable magazines into Class-II status. The only way to use a ‘high-capacity clip’ would be making the weapon large enough to fit all of the ammunition internally.


Fuck machine guns. I want a goddam howitzer.


Only “slow down”?

We banned new sales of what were then called “assault weapons” for years, and there were restrictions on magazine capacity too. It can certainly be done. But the mass shootings are distractions from the daily drumbeat of less shocking deaths on street corners and in people’s houses every day across the country. If we could make all guns a little harder to get and a little easier to get rid of, we’d be generally better off.


It didn’t do a damned thing about high-capacity magazines. And the '94 Assault Weapons Ban was useless as a real gun control measure. It didn’t actually address problems, it addressed superficial combinations of features, and relied on the meaningless ‘assault weapon’ term. But that’s well-trodden ground.


With enough money, time, and paperwork, you can buy one – and maybe even fire it.

(Not kidding.)

I know that. You could buy high-caps that were already in the pipeline. But God damn it, do you give up and do nothing? Fewer were made, for a while there. And I alluded to the confusion about “assault weapons.” They banned pistol grips and other scary-looking cosmetic stuff, for Christ’s sake. But fewer of the bad guns were sold. It doesn’t make the news when a bunch of people fail to die because they weren’t shot with a gun that was never sold.