assualt weapons

  • January 24, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    So the path to new gun control measures must wend through far-right states, such as West Virginia, according to a front-page article in The New York Times. In other words, there’s unlikely to be a ban on military-style weapons coming out of the 113th Congress, thanks largely to the overblown and paranoid concerns of gun enthusiasts in a handful of states that the federal government is bent on trampling Second Amendment rights.  

    That discouraging news, however, did not stop U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein from introducing sweeping legislation aimed at banning the “sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of 157 military-style assault weapon,” and “high-capacity ammunition magazines.”

    As noted here before the Second Amendment, like many constitutional rights, is not absolute. The U.S. Supreme Court in D.C. v. Heller pointed that out. But the gun lobby and gun enthusiasts are adept at stirring fear – one measure to curb violence will lead to others, and so on.

    Feinstein is aware of the difficulty she faces. “Getting this bill signed into law,” she said, “will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that – but it’s worth waging. We must balance the desire of a few to own military-style weapons with the growing threat to lives across America. If 20 dead children in Newtown wasn’t a wakeup call that these weapons of war don’t belong on the streets, I don’t know what is.”

    Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) were also co-sponsors of the bill, The Hill reports.

    The measure, The Hill continued, “would also ban semi-automatic rifles and handguns that have fixed magazines capable of carrying more than 10 rounds and all semi-automatic shotguns that have folding or detachable stocks, pistol grips, forward grips, or fixed magazines with room for more than five rounds.”

    The NRA and pro-gun senators went ballistic, The New York Times reported. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) declared that the “Second Amendment wasn’t written so you can go hunting, it was to create a force to balance a tyrannical force here.”

  • January 16, 2013

    by Jeremy Leaming

    Under increasingly outrageous attacks from the National Rifle Association, President Obama announced what The Huffington Post describes as “the most sweeping effort at gun control policy reform in a generation.”

    The president called for expanded background checks to include those obtaining guns from private sellers and gun shows, a ban on military-style assault weapons and armor-piercing bullets and a limit on high-capacity ammunition magazines. He also vowed to use executive orders to help stem gun violence.

    “In the days ahead, I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” Obama said. “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.” (The White House’s website includes more information about the proposals; click on picture for video of president’s remarks.)

    The administration’s proposals follow New York’s enactment of some of the nation’s toughest measures to curb gun violence. Among other actions, the NY SAFE Act, signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, bans assault weapons and magazines that can hold more than seven rounds and requires instant background checks on all ammunition purchases.

    As noted here, and by The New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow, it is not only the NRA that is ratcheting up its attacks on efforts to curb gun violence. Extremists have jumped into the fray threatening violence over efforts to enact new gun control laws. As Blow wrote, they are employing incendiary language to stir up fear that the government is on the verge of trashing the Second Amendment and confiscating guns. He cites several examples, such as Fox News analyst Andrew P. Napolitano, who claimed that the Second Amendment was created to “protect your right to shoot tyrants if they take over the government.”

    Regardless of what extremists think of the Second Amendment, the Supreme Court has recognized an indiviudal right to own guns, but not it is not an unlimited right. Constitutional law expert Geoffrey Stone pointed out recently in a piece for The Huffington Post, that the Supreme Court majority in D.C. v. Heller, stated “the right secured by the Second Amendment is not unlimited,” and went on to note a string of common sense gun regulations that does not run afoul of the Second Amendment.