Wednesday morning, the White House accused the NRA of using children as "pawns in a political fight," because we pointed out in an advertisement that while President Obama's children are protected by armed guards at school, their father had shown little interest in armed protection for anyone else's children. We said Obama was being hypocritical. The White House said our ad was "repugnant and cowardly."
Minutes later, Obama surrounded himself with children, to announce that he will use "whatever weight this office holds" to get Congress to prohibit all private sales of firearms, ban "military-style assault weapons" and impose a "10-round limit on magazines." As if to acknowledge that few adults are agreeing with him, Obama said the voices of children "should compel us to change."
Readers interested in the full text of Obama's stage show can view it by clicking here. However, several groundless presumptions and misleading statements Obama made in laying out his gun control vision deserve to be corrected and clarified here.
First, Obama said "Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10-round limit for magazines" (emphasis added). Of course, we would oppose restoring the ban that was imposed between 1994 and 2004. But restoring the old ban is not what Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) has said the legislation she has promised to introduce next week will propose.
Feinstein says that her new bill will propose to ban 120 firearms by name (as compared to 19 in her 1993 bill), and a draft of the bill obtained by NRA-ILA shows that she will propose to ban additional categories of rifles, shotguns and handguns far beyond those covered in her earlier effort. She has also told reporters that she is considering proposing that this vast array of firearms be subject to the National Firearms Act and forfeited upon the owners' deaths,' or be subject to a mandatory "buy-back," a euphemism for confiscation with compensation.
Second, Obama used the expressions "military style assault weapons" and "weapons . . . of war" to describe semi-automatic firearms that are not designed for, or used by, any military organization.
Third, Obama said his agenda should be adopted "if there is even one life that can be saved," without admitting that limiting magazines to 10 rounds might render a person unable to defend himself or herself against a criminal attack. Police officers will not be limited to 10 rounds, although they carry multiple spare magazines on their duty belts, they have long guns in their patrol cars, they can call for back-up on their radios, and after running license plate numbers on cars they pull over, they often know who they may be dealing with before they make their approach. A private individual jumped in a parking lot or awakened in the middle of the night by an intruder will likely have only the magazine that is in his or her gun.
Fourth, Obama said "as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check." But the study that claim is based upon found that "The predominant sources of guns, unsurprisingly, were stores (60 percent). Other important sources included family members and acquaintances." Only four percent of gun owners who were surveyed acquired guns from dealers and non-dealers at gun shows and flea markets, and three percent did so "through the mail" (which, as the study noted, requires a NICS check through a dealer). Acquisitions from strangers are the exception, not the rule.
Obama was right about one thing, however. He cannot get most of what he wants unless Congress gives it to him, and members of Congress often respond to what they hear from their constituents. Opponents of the Second Amendment have never been as organized, nor as well-funded, nor as strongly backed by the media, as they are today. We must not merely match their effort; we must exceed it by a wide margin.
The BATFE has recently released statistics showing that 9.5 million firearms were manufactured and imported for sale during 2011, up from 8 million in 2010. And, at least 408,000 new AR-15s were made in 2011, a number likely topped by a significant margin in 2012. But buying guns and running record numbers of NICS checks don't mean as much to members of Congress as a phone call or email.
Obama didn't mention it during his comments on Wednesday, but he is also proposing that Congress prohibit the possession of projectiles defined as "armor piercing ammunition." Bearing in mind that federal law has prohibited the manufacture and importation of such projectiles since the 1980s, we are left to wonder whether such action by Congress would be followed by a new ruling by the BATFE, as to what kinds of projectiles the law would cover.
Obama told his adoring audience to "Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands. Ask them if they support renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. And if they say no, ask them why not." A better question for any lawmaker would be "why?"
Finally, Obama signed 23 executive orders on gun and safety-related issues, the list of which can be viewed here. Among them, four initially appear the most potentially problematic.
First, Obama has directed Attorney General Eric Holder to review categories of individuals prohibited from possessing firearms, which presumably means that the president wants the list of persons prohibited from possessing firearms to be expanded. Anti-gun activists and academics have long suggested it should include persons under age 21, persons convicted of ever-pettier misdemeanors, and the like.
Second, Obama will direct Holder to issue a report designed to promote "smart" gun technologies that gun owners generally do not want, and that would raise the cost of firearms and potentially render them useless.
Third, Obama will direct the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to resume conducting shoddy research designed to promote gun control, something that is currently prohibited by law.
And fourth, Obama will require federal law enforcement agencies to request the BATFE to trace all guns seized in criminal investigations, presumably to generate statistics that the CDC could use in such studies.
In sum, the gauntlet has been thrown. It's time to stand and fight.