The ban on semi-automatic firearms -- which an anti-gun Congress
redefined as "assault weapons" in the 1994 crime bill -- will expire Sept.
13. A drumbeat has begun in the national media to "reauthorize" the ban, and
some politicians are dancing to that familiar beat.
In the House, HR2038 has been introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y.
Instead of a "reauthorization" of the earlier ban, McCarthy wants to ban
millions more guns and begin a backdoor national registration scheme. All told,
HR2038 is a giant step closer to the goal stated by the assault-weapons ban
sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., on CBS "60 Minutes": "If I could
have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban,
picking up every one of them -- Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in --
I would have done it."
"Mr. and Mrs. America, turn them all in." Those are the only words gun
owners should ever need to remember. Never has the anti-gun agenda been stated
more succinctly or more honestly. Now Feinstein is back trying to keep alive
the ban inflicted on law-abiding Americans. Joined by comrades such as Sens.
Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., she introduced S1034,
"Assault Weapons Ban Reauthorization Act of 2003." It makes the Clinton gun
ban permanent and also bans the importation of large-capacity magazines.
Certainly Feinstein's bill is less "ambitious" than McCarthy's and
undoubtedly will be portrayed as a "reasonable," and "common-sense"
alternative by firearm-phobic editorial writers. The truth, of course, lies
elsewhere, as Schumer confessed to the Los Angeles Times: "We know if we push
it too far, we'll have no bill." Translation: "Don't threaten Mr. and Mrs.
America too much." Don't remind them that the semi-automatic firearms they own
for self-defense, hunting and target shooting function identically to those
"assault weapons" you want to ban.
The "assault weapon" debate, as we saw in 1994, is ruled by emotion, not
by fact, and therefore it was a tailor-made issue of the ethically challenged
Clinton administration and its allies. But the truth can not be buried forever,
not even in Washington. That's exactly why in the elections following
enactment of the ban, gun owners went to the polls in great numbers and
unseated the first speaker of the House in 134 years. That's why Bill Clinton
told the Cleveland Plain Dealer: "the fight for the assault weapons ban cost
20 members their seats in Congress." That's why in March 1996, 239 members of
the House of Representatives voted across party lines to repeal the Clinton
The debate is not really about so-called "assault weapons." It's about
banning guns. It's about gun prohibitionists searching for the easiest target
of opportunity. They're going after guns claiming, without a shred of credible
evidence, that these guns are the "weapons of choice" of criminals. It's a lie.
A day after Clinton signed his gun-banning crime bill into law, a Washington
Post editorial admitted: "Assault weapons play a part in only a small
percentage of crime. The provision is mainly symbolic; its virtue will be if
it turns out to be, as hoped, a stepping stone to broader gun control."
In the words of the radical Violence Policy Center: "The public's
confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault
weapons -- anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine
gun -- can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on
these weapons." Machine guns were, of course, effectively banned in 1934.
Jacob Sullum, a senior editor at Reason magazine, captures the issue well:
"The 'assault weapon' ban sets a dangerous precedent precisely because the
justification for it is so weak. It suggests that you don't need a good reason
to limit the right to keep and bear arms, and it invites further restrictions
down the road. As far as the gun banners are concerned, that is the whole
Who: Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle
What: Address to the Commonwealth Club -- "The Second Amendment as a
Freedom Issue." LaPierre will discuss gun ownership and personal liberty.
When: Thursday, 6 p.m.
Where: Crowne Plaza Hotel, Union Square Ballroom, 480 Sutter St., San
Admission: $15 for members, $30 for nonmembers
Reservations: Call (415) 597-6700 or visit the Commonwealth Club office,
595 Market St., 2nd floor, San Francisco.
This article appeared on page D - 5 of the San Francisco Chronicle