Not a long ago I was a planning to write a critique of Obama’s plan to reinstate a federal assault weapons ban. Thankfully, however, Democrats in Congress have already done an end-run around Obama and handed conservatives what may be our first decisive victory since the last election. By quoting NRA talking points in whole-verse, Reid and Pelosi did not just turn their backs on Holder yesterday, they turned, mule-kicked him into oncoming traffic and ran for their lives in a single, satisfyingly deft motion that one only sees when a politician beats a hasty retreat.
Reid and Pelosi’s actions should not have surprised any of us—Democrats around in 1994 remember well the bloodbath that ensued after their first attempt to take Americans’ right to defend themselves. This episode reminds us that conservative ideals still have power. The collective action of Americans joining the NRA and purchasing a gun (or two, or ten) since Obama’s election and called their representatives put a swift end, for now, to the Democrats’ latest effort to wrest control of peoples’ lives from their own hands and place it in Washington.
Although the Democrats’ actions were likely the result of political calculations, there are a number of reasons that Americans everywhere should rejoice in this conservative victory. First, as the Supreme Court held last year in Heller, the 2nd Amendment protects an individual’s right to self-defense and prevents the government from banning any “class of ‘arms’ that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense.” Any AWB would fly in the face of this holding as semi-automatic rifles (which are NOT machine guns…a post for another day, I suppose) are definitely a premier weapon of choice for self-defense.
Second, there seems to be little reason for reinstating the AWB. AG Holder said that one of the goals of a new AWB would be to alleviate violence in northern Mexico. Leaders who swear to uphold the Constitution should not use another country’s problems to curtail the rights of Americans. Further, “assault weapons” are used in around 1% of all violent crime in America, and violent crime rates have held steady or even declined in most jurisdictions since the last ban was phased out in 2004. AG Holder seems to be proposing a solution without really identifying a problem.
Finally, a new AWB would leave Americans more defenseless and reliant on an ever-expanding government to protect them in their own homes. Studies have shown that firearms are used in self defense more than 2.5 million times per year in America, and while many proponents of the AWB say that no one needs semi-automatic rifles to defend themselves (although, imagine if such a needs-based test were applied to people’s First, Fourth, or Fifth Amendment rights!), stories emerging from the L.A. riots and Hurricane Katrina show us that when someone needs an “assault weapon,” they really need it.
This is a big win for every American who believes in the right to defend himself and his loved ones. Hopefully, the Republican Party can take note of the grass roots elements that led to this victory.