By Michael E. Kreca
(Previously by Michael E. Kreca: Who Really Won World War II?)
The US Gun Control Act of 1968 was lifted nearly word for word from the German Weapons Control Law enacted exactly 30 years before. The supreme irony of GCA68 was that many US firearms manufacturers had supported it at the time – mainly because their market share was being cut into significantly by less expensive but equally high-quality imported firearms, especially small-caliber handguns (not to mention cut-price surplus US firearms being reimported back into the USA from several European and Latin American countries). Moreover, Ruger & Co. supported the Clinton Administration's 1994 "assault weapons ban" and in exchange got its popular "Mini-14" rifle deleted from the BATF "hit list" of "prohibited assault rifles" while Colt Industries' equally popular competing product, the similar "AR-15," stayed on the list.
Foolishly, the NRA supported GCA68 at the time (something it doesn't like to discuss these days,) and was editorializing on and off for such a law for some six years, two justifications being the desire to preserve the domestic firearms industry in the interests of "national security" (how convenient those two words are!) and to presumably protect it from cheaper foreign imports (see the American Rifleman, Aug. 1962 edition). (So that's how the auto industry got the idea for "domestic content legislation" in the early 1980s!) NRA membership took a massive hit in reaction to GCA68 and stayed flat for years afterward. JPFO founder Aaron Zelman has done a great deal of research in this area.
The 1937 Marijuana Tax Act was modeled after the 1934 National Firearms Act, the first federal gun control law in US history (actually, the NFA is a tax law, and that is why most pro-gun people have the wrong approach to getting it repealed). The NFA and MTA are both unconstitutional if one uses as a precedent a 1968 USSC decision called US vs. Grosso, when a 1950 federal law imposing a tax on gamblers was ruled unconstitutional on 4th and 5th Amendment grounds, accepting the plaintiff's argument that those who complied with this law were being specially targeted by the government for surveillance, harassment and criminal investigations as "criminal suspects" (and many were), even if there was no evidence of any lawbreaking.
I recall reading long ago about one Merrill Jenkins, who, by the late 1950s was a renowned mechanical engineer at a St. Louis-based firm called National Rejectors Inc., a firm that designed and made mechanical coin acceptance devices for vending machines, pay phones and the like.
In 1959, Jenkins received a visit from some Treasury agents who were apparently concerned about the possibility of counterfeiters making large quantities of inexpensive phony slugs that could be easily used in machines that NR manufactured. Jenkins, believing he was helping protect the public from counterfeiters, told the T-men that a nickel-plated copper disk (costing only a few cents each to make) of the same size, shape and mass of each of the present silver coins in circulation could "fool" coin acceptance devices.
Six years later, under the auspices of the 1965 Coinage Act signed into law by LBJ, our silver coinage was replaced by the exact cupronickel disks described by Jenkins. Three years later, all remaining silver certificates in circulation were recalled and exchanged for Federal Reserve Notes (not silver as required by law). In reaction to what he believed was the further "fiatization" of US currency, Jenkins quit NR and self-published numerous books on money, two of the most notable being Treatise on Monetary Reform and Free Money.
Note: It is not known whether this work has ever been published. Thank you Aeryn-Sun for contributing this piece.
January 15, 2010
Michael E. Kreca lived in San Diego and had been a financial reporter for Knight-Ridder, Business Week and the Financial Times of London. On February 11, 2006, he was shot to death by a government cop.
Copyright © 2010 Michael E. Kreca
The Best of Michael E. Kreca