I’ve previously discussed the racist history of junk gun laws; however this article is intended to point out the fact that “Junk Gun” is a subjective term, and is simply one more way for anti gun rights groups to erode the Second Amendment right to gun ownership. Banning inexpensive guns is not rationally related to safety, and only serves to prevent poorer people from having a gun for self defense:
An overview of modern “Junk Gun” laws
A variety of state and local governments have passed their own “junk gun” or “Saturday night special” laws, which ban guns that have a low price, a certain metallic composition (e.g. pot metal), a certain melting point, etc. The claimed goal is to prevent the sale of guns that are unsafe for their users, but the real goal is to keep affordable guns from being sold to poorer people – the same people who are most likely to face violence at the hands of a criminal and could use a gun for self defense.
Why the Safety argument fails
There is already ample incentive for gun manufacturers to be sure their products are safe, without having dozens of different state and local governments setting different standards. The producers and sellers of guns, like the producers and sellers of any other good, can be liable in tort law if their products are defective and cause injury. In a gun, such defectiveness could be a safety that doesn’t work, a barrel that explodes, a slide that flies off and hits the user in the head, etc. That threat of liability is what keeps manufacturers in the majority of industries from putting dangerous products on the market, and holds true for gun manufacturers too. Simply put, there is no need for such “junk gun” laws.
As an empirical matter, I am unable to find more than a few reports of guns malfunctioning in a dangerous way, and most of these cases seem to indicate that the fault was with the user (such as failure to clean the gun, or use of improper ammunition); meaning that there is not some epidemic of guns malfunctioning and injuring their owners.
Why all guns need not equal the quality of a fine Springfield XD, Glock, or Remington 870 XCS Marine Magnum
When consumers go car shopping, some will pick a Kia Rio, while others will choose a Bentley. More often than not, the person choosing the Kia does so because they are looking for an affordable car that will meet their needs, without spending more money than they have to. Similarly, firearms purchasers of all income levels should be able to purchase a self defense gun that is not necessarily of the absolute highest quality, so long as that gun is not inherently defective. Since the goal of such an affordable gun buyer is self defense, they need not worry about having a gun that will last for 200,000 rounds and be an heirloom to pass down to their children. I personally prefer guns that can be expected to last a lifetime, but would not want to deny self defense abilities to someone who wants a gun that will only work for 15,000 rounds, for example.