Bob Barr

The race to further the gun-control agenda in the wake of last month’s tragic shooting by a crazed gunman in Newtown, Connecticut is moving into high gear. The Grand Old Lady of Gun Control, California Senator Diane Feinstein, last week introduced a bill that not only seeks to reinstate the 1994 “Federal Assault Weapons Ban” (AWB), but goes far beyond the scope of the earlier law (which expired a decade later) in undermining Second Amendment protections for law abiding Americans.

Feinstein’s proposal specifically targets 157 modern sporting rifles -- or, as she almost gleefully refers to them, “assault weapons.” In addition to these firearms, the California liberal’s bill prohibits the sale, transfer, manufacture and importing of semi-automatic rifles and pistols able to accept detachable magazines, and which have at least one cosmetic “military” characteristic (the “Clinton Gun Ban” only banned those types of rifles with at least two such characteristics). The bill goes on to outlaw magazines with capacities greater than 10-rounds, and bans the sale or transfer of larger, grandfathered magazines.

Don’t even think about trying to get a semi-automatic shotgun with a rocket launcher attached; Feinstein specifically listed those as well.

By now, Americans should realize that gun bans such as Feinstein’s have little to do with stopping crime or solving the plague of gun violence. As Feinstein herself said, the goal is eventually to “dry up the supply of these weapons over time,” and completely remove them from our society. In other words: take them out of the hands of the millions of law-abiding citizens who use them without incident every year; and leave the military and law enforcement -- and criminals -- with a monopoly as such firearms and ammunition clips.

Following the Clinton Gun Ban’s expiration in 2004, the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) studied the results. Unsurprisingly, they found “insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of any of the firearms laws or combinations of laws reviewed on violent outcomes.” Additionally, the National Criminal Justice Reference Service reported “the ban’s effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement.”

Gun control advocates, of course, remain undeterred. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, “they may trip over the truth, but get right back up, simply dust themselves off, and keep right on going.”

For those who care for facts and accuracy, however, such these studies illustrate why gun control bills diminish not only Second Amendment rights, but public safety as well. Such proposals are drafted by non-experts like Feinstein, who have little to no actual experience with or true understanding of firearms or criminal behavior.

Nobody is denying we should investigate and do what we can to prevent gun crime in our cities and towns. But, we should not scapegoat the American gun owner for complicated, cultural problems we are just beginning to understand. Not only is the gun control agenda a slap in the face to our Founding Fathers who understood and recognized the significance of the Second Amendment; but it fails utterly to address public safety issues -- the supposed impetus of gun control.

This is not to say there are not steps we can take to address tragedies such as occurred last month in Newtown.

Cracking down on straw purchases and strengthening requirements to report stolen firearms are meaningful mechanisms to reduce chances for criminals obtaining firearms. Also, studying the impact of mental health on mass shootings is important and relevant to prevent future tragedies; even though such horrific events are statistically rare. I doubt even the most ardent Second Amendment activists would be opposed to such proposals, but not surprisingly, common sense proposals such as these are completely absent from Feinstein’s bill.

Unfortunately, most gun control advocates are not really interested in rational debate; and, their political games simply send Alice chasing white rabbits down holes. President Obama easily rallies his base by accusing the National Rifle Association of putting the Second Amendment above public safety (actually, of course, the NRA is all about public safety). Fortunately, however, more and more Americans are seeing the irony in using the anti-gun agenda as a political football when gun crime continues to go unaddressed.

The bright side to Feinstein’s bill is that more than a few Democrats, particularly those in rural areas, are wary of supporting such extreme gun control measures. The 1994 gun ban is blamed in part for the historic losses suffered by Democratic congressional and presidential candidates in 1994 and 2000. But supporters of the Second Amendment who might sit back and hope this storm passes simply because of past victories, do so at their own – and future generations’ – peril.


Bob Barr

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s 7th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 -2003 and as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1986-1990.