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OPINION

Jay Inslee Orchestrates the Left’s Latest Gun Control Gambit

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Harry Hamburg

Anti-Second Amendment Democrats are at it again, this time in Washington State, where Gov. Jay Inslee just held a press conference to urge the legislature to pass three cookie-cutter gun control measures. If the legislature grants Inslee’s wishes, law-abiding residents of the state wanting to exercise their Second Amendment rights will be severely impacted. At the same time, the edicts wend their way through the court system, to be eventually overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

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Inslee knows the wheels of justice turn slow on such matters, and, like his counterpart in New York, he is more than happy to take advantage of judicial lethargy in his crusade to limit Second Amendment rights.

Inslee recites the timeworn litany of false facts on which the gun control movement is founded: (1) “assault-style” rifles are “weapons of war” and have no legitimate use by civilians, (2) firearms manufacturers and retailers enjoy immunity from being sued beyond that applicable to manufacturers or retailers of other products, and (3) because a license is needed to drive a car there is no reason not to require a license to purchase a firearm. 

The “weapons of war” narrative is factual and historical nonsense. The AR-15 rifle, invariably cited by the Left as an example of such a firearm, is, in its lawful configuration, a semi-automatic rifle; capable of firing a single bullet with each pull of the trigger. It is not – unless unlawfully modified -- an automatic rifle, meaning one that fires multiple rounds so long as the trigger remains depressed and there are rounds in the ammunition clip.

Calling the semi-automatic AR-15 rifle a “weapon of war” displays the ignorance of those who use the term (including President Biden). The AR-15 rifle is not issued to our military because it cannot fire automatically. The standard rifle issued to our armed forces as a “weapon of war,” so to speak, is the fully automatic M-16, not the AR-15. Issuing AR-15s to any military for use in combat would be suicidal.  

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Moreover, claiming, as Gov. Inslee did, that there is “no legitimate reason for [such rifles] in our society” is blind to the fact that the AR-15 rifle – the most popular in America -- has a long and well-known history of being used for hunting, marksmanship, and self-defense. Whether Inslee and his cohorts know this or do not understand the difference between an AR-15 and an M-16, they are perpetuating a lie designed to limit or prevent individuals from fully exercising their rights under the Second Amendment. 

Moreover, as the country’s most popular rifle, the AR-15 is in regular and common usage by citizens, making it lawful to own, according to clear Supreme Court precedents. 

The red herring that firearms manufacturers and retailers enjoy a degree of legal immunity unique to them also is not true. 

The federal law oft-cited by those urging adoption of laws to make firearms businesses liable for an individual’s criminal use of a firearm is the 2005 “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.” Far from giving firearms manufacturers and retailers broader immunity from being sued than is enjoyed by other businesses, however, the law simply placed firearms retailers and manufacturers on the same legal footing as those who make and sell other consumer goods, such as automobiles.  

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So long as the product -- a gun, a car – is not manufactured negligently or sold to someone the retailer had reason to believe would use it criminally, there is no cause of action against the business or the manufacturer.  

This brings us to the third leg of the gun-grabbers wobbly stool – comparing a driver’s license to a government-issued firearm license.  

While the licensing argument might seem “common sense” to the uninformed, it rests on a patently false premise that a firearm is no different from an automobile in terms of government regulation. 

It may come as a news flash to Inslee, but a firearm, unlike a car, is explicitly protected in the Constitution against arbitrary government prohibition such as mandatory licensing. Common sense, and the Supreme Court of the United States (as recently as in last June’s Bruen decision), hold that the power to license is the power to deny.  

Neither common sense nor Supreme Court rulings deter zealots like Jay Inslee from pursuing their unconstitutional but politically expedient game of gun control.

Bob Barr represented Georgia’s Seventh District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003. He served as the United States Attorney in Atlanta from 1986 to 1990 and was an official with the CIA in the 1970s. He now practices law in Atlanta, Georgia and serves as head of Liberty Guard.

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