A teacher is hauled out of her classroom and arrested in front of her students in Virginia.

A state legislator in Alaska is dragged into court by government agents, simply because the legislator -- a former Vietnam veteran -- is engaging in politically incorrect activity.

Another military veteran moves from Florida to California, and later finds that he must surrender one of his firearms in the new state or risk becoming a criminal.

What do all of these scenarios have in common? They were all law-abiding citizens. None of them had committed a violent crime. None of them had even threatened another person.

All were found, however, to be in violation of gun control laws that quite often punish decent Americans for the mere POSSESSION of a gun, even when no real crime has been committed.

Which is why this September is so significant.

One of the most hated gun bans ever signed into law has now sunset. Enacted by President Bill Clinton on September 13, 1994, the ban which outlaws more than 180 types of semi-automatic firearms and magazines expired on its ten-year anniversary.

Let's be clear. These are semi-automatic firearms. Although they are frequently referred to as "assault weapons," they are not. These guns fire one bullet for every pull of the trigger, and as such, are not used by any military on earth.

In fact, the average shotgun has more firepower than the semi- automatic firearms banned by President Clinton in 1994.

So Americans should be celebrating the fact that this law contained a sunset provision which causes the ban to expire this month. Why? Because gun bans don't stop criminals from getting guns.

Criminals don't obey the laws. (OK, this is not a novel concept. Everyone knows that criminals can easily get their hands on firearms, no matter how draconian the restrictions may be.)

But what may be a novel idea for many, is that gun laws frequently punish decent Americans for committing mere technical violations. Consider the examples mentioned above.

The Virginia teacher was arrested for violating the state's gun-free school zones law in 1992. She was complying with one part of the state law which allows law-abiding citizens to keep a self-defense firearm in open view in their cars.

Unbeknownst to her, she was in violation of another part of the code which prohibited guns on school grounds. Never mind the fact that she had never committed a crime nor had she ever threatened anyone with that gun, she was arrested for a "gun crime."

Alaska Representative Rich Foster was dragged into court when he tried to have a replica machine gun built for display in his gun shop. Even though the "federal gun cops" at the BATF had OK'd the construction of the inoperable gun, they later used the information to try and put Foster in jail for 50 years and fine him up to $1.25 million.

Fortunately, the jury saw through this outrage, and they acquitted Rep. Foster of all wrong-doing.

And then there was William Doss, the Air Force veteran who was forced to surrender his SKS Sporter rifle in 1998 when he found himself in violation of the state semi-auto ban.

He was initially told that his firearm was legal to bring into California when he moved into the state in 1995. But three years later, state officials reversed themselves, and administratively declared a whole new class of guns as contraband under the state's semi-auto ban.

Mr. Doss received a letter in the mail telling him to surrender his firearm and that it must be "relinquished to a local police station or sheriff's department."

Don't you feel safer? Now that we've disarmed this Air Force veteran, do we really think this country is better off?

No wonder the National Institute of Justice was forced to admit the obvious recently, when a spokesman for the institute stated, "We cannot clearly credit the [semi-auto] ban with any of the nation's recent drop in gun violence."

For those who can think rationally, this should come as no surprise.

Thank goodness this gun ban has finally expired. We should now start working to sunset all the other laws that disarm decent Americans.

But for now, say goodbye to the Clinton gun ban.

It's a beautiful sunset. ------------------------

Erich Pratt is the Director of Communications for Gun Owners of America. He is the author of a forthcoming civil government textbook, The Constitutional Recipe for Freedom: Twelve Principles of Liberty Today's Politicians Don't Want You to Know.

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