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War on Drugs, or on Gun Owners’ Rights?

Friday, March 27, 2009

As the issue of Mexican violence continues to boil over, it has become clear that for many anti-gun politicians, the war on drugs and the war on gun owners’ rights are the same thing.

This past week, there were two more hearings in Congress on the topic of Mexican drug cartels. That brings the total to eight hearings so far, and there are field hearings already set to take place in Phoenix and Houston.

In the Senate Homeland Security Committee’s hearing, Chairman Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.) repeatedly claimed that we need to regulate gun shows, using the same inaccurate rhetoric the anti-gunners have used for a decade.  In the end, when pressed to endorse new gun laws, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano sidestepped the issue, endorsing only actions under her current authority.

On the same day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Mexico City, blaming American gun laws and calling for a renewal of her husband’s 1994 gun ban. She even went on to trumpet the ban’s illusory impact: “And there's no doubt in my mind that the 10 years we had an assault weapons ban in America was one of the tools that helped to drive down the crime rate.” (Read her remarks here.)

It would be helpful if the new Secretary of State would take a moment to read the reports, (such as this congressionally mandated study performed by the Urban Institute,) which actually showed that the ban couldn’t possibly have had much impact on crime because “the banned guns were never used in more than a modest fraction of all gun murders” before the ban.

We also heard from the Brady Center this week, as the anti-gun group released a report entitled “Exporting Gun Violence: How Our Weak Laws Arm Criminals in Mexico and America.” Unsurprisingly, Brady used the Mexico situation to call for passage of most of their wish list of new gun laws: end private transfers, ban millions of commonly owned semi-autos, ration handgun sales, and finally, unleash the BATFE for increased harassment of firearms dealers.

Though the Brady Center’s call for more American gun laws was illustrated with a picture of seized arms—including “98 fragmentation grenades” and a “Light Anti-Tank rocket”—none of their not-so-new “solutions” to crime included additional laws on these items. And none of the solutions suggested by Brady include any effort to actually secure our borders or target criminals who violate our laws with impunity. The one thing this report makes clear is that the Brady Center is more interested in advancing an anti-gun agenda than it is in solving the crisis in Mexico.

Clearly, anti-gunners in Congress and the Obama Administration are going to continue to use the Mexico crisis to advance their agenda. ILA will continue to monitor this issue and keep you informed.

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Established in 1975, the Institute for Legislative Action (ILA) is the "lobbying" arm of the National Rifle Association of America. ILA is responsible for preserving the right of all law-abiding individuals in the legislative, political, and legal arenas, to purchase, possess and use firearms for legitimate purposes as guaranteed by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.