Saturday, May 10, 2003

The NY Times has an article on Bush's support of the assault weapons ban despite the NRA's objections.

"Mr. Bush's position 'cuts against the N.R.A.'s position,' said Michael Franc, vice president of government relations at the conservative Heritage Foundation, 'and it will put the president — for one of the first times since he signed the campaign finance reform bill — at odds with his own political base.'
'He's built up enough positive political capital in other areas that it won't be fatal,' Mr. Franc added, but the issue could hurt Mr. Bush in Middle America, considered critical to his re-election chances in 2004."

Actually a lot of people see this is a very clever political move. Those people reason that the assault weapons ban will not have enough congressional support to be extended therefore Bush is supporting a measure that will attratc new boters while having relatively little risk of having to sign it into law. I disagree. Bush mentioned his support for the assault weapons ban during his campaign. In fact his father banned the import of 'assault weapons'. So I see that Bush could actually support the assault weapons ban regardless of the political considerations.

"This is a president who has been so good on the Second Amendment that it's just unbelievable to gun owners that he would really sign the ban," said Grover G. Norquist, a leading conservative and an N.R.A. board member who opposes the weapons ban. "I don't think it's sunk in for a lot of people yet."

Again I disagree. Bush has not been "so good on the Second Amendment". Since he's been in office his administration has stated that the Second Amendment is an individual Right but one subject to restrictions. I do not see "subject to restrictions" as part of the Second Amendment.
His administration has asked the Supreme Court to decline hearing two Second Amendment cases, one of which was the Emerson case. His administration has supported strict enforcement of federal gun control laws. His Department of Justice argues against people who challenge gun control laws. In fact the Department of Justice's attorneys successfully argued against Thomas Bean, a man who lost his Federal Firearms License because of a felony conviction in Mexico for possessing ammunition. Here is a copy of the decision in U.S. vs. Bean for any legal buffs out there.
(To summarize Mr. Bean was convicted of possessing ammunition, which is a felony in Mexico. Upon his return to the U.S. he found that the Mexican felony disqualified him from owning possessing & trading in firearms. he sought relief from the BATF, but the BATF cannot process any requests for relief because congress has withheld funding for that speicific function since the early 90's. He took his case to court & the lower court ruled that the inability of the BATF to act on his request constituted a denial & they felt they had jurisdiction to grant Mr. Bean relief, which they did. The Department of Justice appealed to the Supreme Court & had the lower court's ruling overturned, based on the argument that the BATF's inability to act did not constitute a denial & therefore it was not open to judicial review.)
Add to that Bush's support of a continuation of the assault weapons ban & I cannot conclude that he has been "so good on the Second Amendment".

Meanwhile Sen. Feinstein (D-california) is pushing for continuation & strengthening of the assault weapons ban.

"Sen. Dianne Feinstein, (D) California: 'It still needs improvement. We can still build upon it, but it is critical that we get this reauthorization.'
The Bush administration has said it will support an extension of the ban but it remains uncertain if the White House wants to expand it to cover Feinstein's new proposal.
It includes blocking the import of clips that carry 10 or more bullets."

Democrats are asking for Bush's help in re-newing the assault weapons ban.

"Schumer and other backers of the assault weapons ban told a news conference they are seeking renew the 1994 law as written, recognizing that they can't expand it in the current political climate.
The sole change they seek is a ban on importing high-capacity ammunition clips that let an assailant shoot dozens of bullets in a matter of seconds. The 1994 law banned their U.S. manufacture, but not their import.

Action on measures to strengthen or expand gun control 'isn't in the cards right now,' said California Democrat Dianne Feinstein. She said she would rather preserve the status quo so she can build on it in the future than 'lose everything (and) go back many steps' by overreaching now."

Jacob Sullum, the senior editor at ReasonOnline has an interesting piece on the underlying reasons for the assault weapons ban.

"The VPC complains that "the gun industry moved quickly to make slight, cosmetic design changes in their 'post-ban' guns to evade the law." That was possible because the focus of the law—the essence of what makes a gun an "assault weapon"—is slight and cosmetic."

It is definitely worth a read.

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