Obama, Get Real on the Assault Weapons Ban

By Beacon Staff

With the massive messes the Obama administration has to unravel, why is our new president allowing his attorney general to embark on a meaningless mission to nowhere, the reauthorization of the so-called Assault Weapons Ban (AWB)?

And in conflict with his campaign commitments and his party’s plans to stay in power?

Of the plethora of press releases I’ve received on this issue, I thought the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), a trade group for firearms manufacturers, had the best summation. The NSSF reminded Congress that “such a ban would cause jobs to be lost in a difficult economy, have no effect on reducing crime and would deprive millions of law-abiding sportsmen and gun owners of their constitutional right to own the firearm of their choice.”

When announcing his plan, Holder justified it by saying we needed to stop American criminals from supplying illegal guns to drug dealers in Mexico. Be real. The AWB has nothing to do with Mexico.

“The problem of criminals breaking the law to acquire firearms and illegally smuggling them across the border is not remedied by legislation that would violate the rights of Americans to own semi-automatic firearms,” agrees Steve Sanetti, NSSF president. “We can only conclude that certain officials (translate: Eric Holder) are waiting for any politically advantageous excuse to announce the intention to seek a new ban on sporting rifles.”

So why do it? The only answer can be political pay back. Gunshy urbanites who voted for Obama think the AWB would keep crazies from shooting up schools and malls. Now, through his attorney general, Obama has to give them something in return. No matter that we saw no decrease in school or mall shootings or any other gun-related crime during the ten years (1994-2004) the AWB was in effect. And there has been no increase in the five years since it expired.

Is there anything else we need to know about the AWB?

I’m not a gun expert, but I know it’s impossible to define an “assault weapon.” When you try, you sweep up sporting firearms like semi-automatic hunting rifles and pump-action shotguns, firearms perfectly acceptable to most people, even some serious anti-gunners.

And even if you could define an “assault weapon” in legalese, manufacturers would instantly make subtle design adjustments to land outside of the ban.

Politicians, including many Democrats, are simply sick of the gun issue and refuse to be put in the politically risky position of having to record a vote either for or against gun control. Hence, the extreme unlikelihood of even having a committee vote on the AWB or H.R. 45.

Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., commonly considered anti-gun, has backed away from the prospect of new gun legislation. “I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now,” she announced.

Witness the recent vote on the new Washington D.C. gun regulations. In an act of defiance after the Supremes overturned the ultra-strict D.C. firearms ordinances in the landmark Heller vs. D.C. case last year, the city council passed regulations almost as restrictive. But last week, the U.S. Senate voted 62-36 to overturn those new regs – and with a bipartisan vote. Twenty-two Democratic senators, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Montana’s two Democratic senators, Max Baucus and Jon Tester, joined Republicans in sending the big message to the D.C. city council.

Backers of such sure-to-fail legislative efforts like the AWB should consider how counterproductive they can be. With gun sales already through the ceiling in a bad economy, the threat of new gun laws only boasts sales, putting even more guns into circulation.

We probably don’t need another reason to spike the AWB, but here’s one more. How many segments of our economy are doing well nowadays? Not many, right? One is the firearms industry.

“A ban on sporting firearms also would have a severe effect on jobs and the economy,” says NSSF. “Sales of semi-automatic rifles have been strong over the last several months – overall sales of firearms have increased as much as 42 percent – and have allowed the firearms industry to withstand, to some extent, the downturn in the economy.”

So, Congress, do you really want to slap down one of the few industries still running close to full employment and send thousands more American workers to the unemployment lines?

I only hope Holder’s pronouncement was a token political balloon to appease a gun-hating constituency. If not, well, I see it as a serious broken promise by Obama who came to the West several times and promised hunters and gun owners that they had nothing to fear from him.

So, President Obama, you have plenty of reasons to not-so-quietly tell Congress to forget the AWB (and H.R. 45) and put a cork in Eric Holder. Instead, let’s concentrate on something meaningful – like filling up Attica with greedy CEOs who gave us this economic apocalypse and “clawing back” the billions they Mad(e)off with.

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