In 1994, Congress enacted a ban on assault weapons. President Clinton declared that such semi-automatic weapons were “built only for the purpose of killing people.” In the estimation of President Clinton and the United States Congress, Americans did not need such weapons to hunt and practice marksmanship. In 2004, the ban expired because its supporters could not show any impact on crime.
Americans increasingly favor owning light, semi-automatic rifles that fire many rounds (one pull of the trigger at a time) for competition and other purposes like protecting our children from predatory criminals. What makes assault weapons (AW) distinctively different from other semi-automatic weapons?
Automatic weapons that fire more than one shot with one pull of the trigger are already prohibited under federal law. Politicians seeking to gradually eliminate gun ownership know that the ability to create a banned category of weapons provides politicians with power to expand an Assault Weapon Ban to all semi-automatic weapons or even to weapons that hold more than ten rounds.
Thus, politicians recognize that by creating a list of characteristics defining certain weapons as illegal, firearms can be regulated out of existence. Many people think that pistols have no legitimate purpose. Is it true, however, that firearms with “legitimate” hunting and sporting purposes are the only weapons that Americans should be allowed to possess?
The men that drafted the Constitution had an intense debate that was finally settled by leaving the question of standing armies and military preparedness to the executive and legislative branches of the state and federal governments. In the event that inadequate attention to security issues put national security at risk, it was decided that the people themselves should be ready to take up arms to protect the Republic. On the other hand, the question of how to curtail a tyrant from controlling a large standing army was also addressed by providing for an armed populace.
The Second Amendment secures other liberties like the right to express dissent and to be free from governmental intrusions while enjoying privacy in our homes. State and federal legal cases resound with the precept that militarily useful weapons, not sporting goods, are what the U.S. and state constitutions provide for. Laws that required citizens to have a working rifle, suitable for military purposes and a prescribed amount of ammunition were common until modern standing military forces became the rule. Semi-automatic versions of the M-16, determined to be militarily useful by the United States government, are deployed every weekend as rifles of choice in competitions all over the State of Washington and the U.S.
10 USC 311 defines the militia as consisting “of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and… under 45 years of age….” The U.S. Constitution distilled legal wisdom from the classical world of Greece and Rome and Biblical Israel. Politicians were just as prone to disarming citizens in former times as they are today. The ancient despots stripped your weapons and there you stood- a slave. The moderns put you to sleep in lukewarm water while gradually turning up the heat.
Dave Workman’s piece about sixty-five House Democrats that oppose renewal of the AWB:
Gun prohibitionists are crowing that a federal judge on March 19 blocked a rule change allowing concealed carry in national parks.
U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly, a Bill Clinton appointee, issued a preliminary injunction that the National Rifle Association says it will quickly appeal.
An apparently giddy Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, was quoted by the Associated Press noting, “We’re happy that this headlong rush to push more guns into more places has been slowed.”
Darned right he’s happy, but this has nothing to do with public safety or even the lengthy process under which the rule was adopted late last year. Contrary to what the Brady camp and its allies who sued to stop this rule are claiming, this change was not “sudden” or a “last minute bone” thrown to the evil “gun lobby.” This process took a couple of years and went through an extended public comment period last year, and the gun ban lobby knows it. Public comments were being taken as far back as last spring, and everyone had a chance to weigh in, and was even extended an additional 30 days at the request of opponents like Kurt Repanshek.
But, as it has now occurred to 65 Democrat members of the House of Representatives, the gun ban lobby is pretty good at stretching a falsehood (truth has nothing to do with it!). Read this letter in pdf form, courtesy the National Rifle Association.
‘The gun control community has intentionally misled many Americans…’
See Dave Kopel’s article for more about threat of “assault weapons” to police officers.