Speaking to reporters from the White House Tuesday, Press Secretary Josh Earnest suggested the 1990s, Clinton era ban on semi-automatic sporting rifles, better known as the assault weapons ban, is common sense and should be reinstated to prevent terrorism and crime in America.
"I think what the President would say based on his comments from Sunday night is that we are seeing extremist organizations, including ISIL, trying to radicalize people in the United States to essentially mimic the tactics of other mass shooters in this country. So, there certainly is a national security benefit to closing the gun show loophole or reinstating the assault weapons ban," Earnest said (bolding is mine). "There is such profound frustration on the part of the President that Congress hasn't taken common sense steps that would make it harder for those who shouldn't get guns from getting their hands on them. The suggestion is not that we can stop every incident of violence in this country but if there are some common sense things that we can do that will at least make some of them less likely, then why wouldn't we do it."
"The intensity of the President's view about the importance of us implementing some policies that make it harder for those who shouldn't be able to get their hands on guns from getting them, has not waned in it's intensity. I'm talking about common sense measures like making sure you can't avoid a background check just by purchasing the gun over the internet or even reinstituting the assault weapons ban that would prevent or at least reduce the likelihood that weapons of war end up on our streets," Earnest continued about the potential of President Obama issuing an executive order on gun control.
Earnest also pushed for universal background checks and for Congress to pass legislation banning anyone on the terrorism no-fly list from being able to purchase a firearm.
First, it should be noted the so-called Clinton era 'assault' weapons ban did nothing to reduce crime, mass shootings or radical Islamic terrorism. From The New York Times:
In the 10 years since the previous ban lapsed, even gun control advocates acknowledge a larger truth: The law that barred the sale of assault weapons from 1994 to 2004 made little difference.
It turns out that big, scary military rifles don’t kill the vast majority of the 11,000 Americans murdered with guns each year. Little handguns do.
In 2012, only 322 people were murdered with any kind of rifle, F.B.I. data shows.
The continuing focus on assault weapons stems from the media’s obsessive focus on mass shootings, which disproportionately involve weapons like the AR-15, a civilian version of the military M16 rifle. This, in turn, obscures some grim truths about who is really dying from gunshots.
Second, the "no buy, no fly" concept is a good idea in theory, but because the no-fly list is a jumbled, bureaucratic mess that strips Americans of their Second Amendment rights without due process, it fails to prevent people truly linked to terrorist organizations from purchasing a firearm.
The way some in Congress have proposed closing it would create an even bigger threat to civil liberties.
It all hinges on how you define a “suspected” terrorist. For Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., all it requires is for your name to be on a government list. She is sponsoring a bill that would prohibit anyone whose name appears on the FBI’s terror watch list from buying a firearm or an explosive while traveling in the United States.
That list, which contained 47,000 names at the end of George W. Bush’s presidency, has grown to nearly 700,000 people on President Obama’s watch. The fact that they are names, not identities, has led to misidentifications and confusion, ensnaring many innocent people. But surely those names are there for good reason, right?
Not really. According to the technology website TechDirt.com, 40 percent of those on the FBI’s watch list — 280,000 people — are considered to have no affiliation with recognized terrorist groups. All it takes is for the government to declare is has “reasonable suspicion” that someone could be a terrorist. There is no hard evidence required, and the standard is notoriously vague and elastic.