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Political Report: Same Anti-Gunners, Different Year

Monday, January 26, 2009

One of the most stinging blows that Hillary Clinton delivered to Barack Obama's presidential campaign came when she mocked his motto "change you can believe in," by altering it to "change you can Xerox."

Now, even as she prepares to join the Obama administration as secretary of state, her criticism is ringing true. Ironically, her own appointment is the most obvious example. Obama is staffing his administration from top to bottom with refugees from the Clinton White House, including two of the most aggressive anti-gun operatives of that era. They, in turn, promise to bring the same approach to the Second Amendment that Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Janet Reno pioneered.

Obama's very first staff pick was to name Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., as his White House chief of staff. Emanuel is a creature of the Chicago political machine and served as a "presidential advisor" during his tenure in the Clinton White House. At that time, he was identified in the media as Clinton's "point man on gun control" and was lauded by the gun-ban lobby for his efforts. When he ran for Congress, Sarah Brady herself issued a statement saying, "Rahm Emanuel has stood side-by-side with the Brady Campaign and the Million Mom March to fight the scourge of gun violence in America."

Longtime members will recall the revulsion for firearms that permeated the Clinton administration and Emanuel's loathing for guns was apparent in his public statements.

"A gun in the hand of an adolescent is either an accident or a crime waiting to happen," he told USA Today.

His other statements reflected the policy ignorance that was common among Clinton's advisors. Emanuel appeared on "Meet the Press" in June 1998 and announced that "20 percent of the guns . . . used in murder are purchased within the week of the murder," a statement that was completely and utterly wrong. A White House spokeswoman would admit only that he "misspoke on that one."

Emanuel also took a personal role in attempting to extort gun makers with the threat of reckless federal lawsuits, blaming the firearm industry for the acts of criminals. Years later, serving in Congress, he defended these lawsuits by arguing against passage of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. He called the common-sense reform bill "special treatment for a special interest," complaining to the Washington Post that Congress "should work to protect our citizens, not the gun lobby."

Once Emanuel accepted Obama's job offer, he no doubt had quite a bit to do with the decision to name Eric Holder as the next U.S. attorney general. Holder served as deputy attorney general under Janet Reno in the Clinton administration, so the Justice Department will be a familiar setting for him. But Holder's history of aggressive anti-gun activism is even worse than Emanuel's record of media-focused PR stunts.

Holder has always been among the first in front of the cameras to exploit tragedy for political gain. From Columbine to the September 11 attacks, there was no event in which Holder couldn't find some inspiration for gun bans, gun registration, gun rationing and more. Just weeks after terrorists used box cutters to turn airplanes into guided missiles, Holder wrote in the Washington Post, "One measure that is an essential part of any plan is the need to tighten our nation's gun laws, which allow the easy and legal sale of firearms to terrorists and criminals."

Holder saved his most absurd arguments for the now-settled question of the meaning of the Second Amendment. Appearing on ABC's "This Week" program, Holder was asked, "Are you saying that the Second Amendment does not say that citizens have a right to bear arms and that does not mean that an individual has an unfettered right to go out and buy a firearm?" Holder claimed, mistakenly, "No court has ever said that the Second Amendment actually says that. I think, if you look at it, it talks about bearing guns in a well-regulated militia. And I don't think anywhere it talks about an individual." Holder most recently signed a brief with his old boss Janet Reno, trying to convince the U.S. Supreme Court in the Heller case that "The Second Amendment does not protect firearm possession or use that is unrelated to participation in a well-regulated militia."

So hold onto your hats, folks. These people have been out of power for eight years and no doubt have a lot of pent-up energy. In the meantime, the notion that Obama's pick of Clinton's gun-ban gurus represents "change you can believe in," reveals one thing for sure: Hillary was right.

 

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