‘‘To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them.’’ ~ George Mason
Pesident Bush’s pledge to extend the ban on semiautomatic assault weapons has gun owners up in arms. The White House announcement came as a surprise to N.R.A. leaders and membership, who were stunned at the decision. Although the original legislation is scheduled to terminate in September 2004, Senate Democrats introduced a measure to continue the ban for an additional ten years – a measure that Bush promises to sign if it reaches his desk.
Title XI of the Federal Violent Crime Control Act of 1994 banned the manufacture and import of a certain class of guns defined by Congress as "Assault Weapons." These firearms were categorized as such by certain identifying features that are military-like in appearance, but have no bearing on “efficiency,” or deadliness. The act also banned high capacity magazines that hold more than ten rounds.
A Federal ban on assault weapons was a top priority of the Clinton administration in early 1994, and it passed by a very narrow margin (216-214) in the House of Representatives. President Clinton signed the bill on September 13, 1994 .
N.R.A. members staunchly supported Bush in the 2000 election, and they are justified in their incredulity regarding his vow to renew the ban. But his sudden about-face should come as no surprise. Recent anti-gun legislation confirms that Republicans are just as eager to deprive peaceful Americans of their ability to defend themselves as Democrats.
Consider the following legislation, all of which occurred within the last six years:
· GET THE U.S. OUT OF THE U.N. ( June 4, 1997 ) –
The House defeated a pro-gun amendment, by a vote of 369-54, to pull the United States out of the anti-gun United Nations. In recent years, the U.N. has been working to establish gun control laws worldwide and is seeking ways to lead member states like the U.S. toward stricter gun control laws.
169 House Republicans voted against the amendment.
· HATCH-CRAIG GUN CONTROL AMENDMENT (May 14, 1999) -
In response to the Lautenberg amendment and its harsh gun control provisions, Senate Republicans presented a less stringent version. The amendment offered by Orrin Hatch (R–UT) and Larry Craig (R-ID) passed by a 48-47 vote.
The Republican bill provided several restrictions on gun ownership. It would require background checks for any private sale at a gun show. Additionally, it would assign a U.S. attorney to every district for the purpose of harassing gun owners.
47 of 55 Republican Senators voted FOR this legislation.
· BANNING PRIVATE SALES OF FIREARMS AT GUN SHOWS
This amendment would ban private sales at gun shows unless the buyer first submits to a background registration check. The amendment would also impose numerous restrictions on gun show promoters.
On May 20, 1999 , this amendment passed. Six Republicans sided with the Democrats in favoring this anti-gun legislation, resulting in a 50-50 tie vote and allowing Vice President Al Gore to cast the tie breaking vote.
· BACKGROUND REGISTRATION CHECKS (May 20, 1999)-
Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and James Jeffords (R-VT) introduced more restrictions on gun sales with this amendment. It subjects pawnshop and repair shop transactions to the same registration and background check requirements as purchases from dealers.
The amendment passed 79-21, with 34 of 55 Senate Republicans voting FOR the gun control legislation.
· JUVENILE CRIME BILL (May 20, 1999) –
The Senate passed the anti-gun juvenile crime bill by a 73-25 vote. Senate Bill 254 contained several gun control amendments in addition to the various provisions related to punishing juveniles who commit crimes.
31 of 55 Senate Republicans voted FOR the anti-gun bill.
· OMNIBUS REPUBLICAN GUN CONTROL PACKAGE
On June 18, 1999 , the House defeated the Hyde-McCollum “Mandatory Gun Show Background Check Act” by a 280-147 vote. This bill contained many anti-gun provisions, including trigger locks, a young adult gun ban, and lifetime gun ban for certain juveniles.
137 House Republicans voted for the gun control package.
· ENFORCEMENT OF EXISTING GUN LAWS AND PROTECTION OF GUN OWNERS
Senator Trent Lott (R-MS) offered a resolution that called for more aggressive enforcement of existing gun laws, tougher penalties for gun-related crimes and protection for the rights of law-abiding gun owners. On May 17, 2000 , the non-binding vote passed 69-30.
52 of 55 Senate Republicans voted FOR more stringent enforcement of existing gun laws.
· NO U.N. GUN CONTROL ( July 18, 2001 ) –
Representative Ron Paul (R-TX) offered another amendment to withdraw the United States from the United Nations. Paul argued that the country should boycott the international gun control organization, which is actively “taking guns away from civilians”.
164 House Republicans voted against the amendment.
President Bush’s promise to extend the assault weapon ban is hardly the first time that alleged pro-gun Republicans have chosen to infringe upon 2nd Amendment freedoms. At least Democrats are honest in their pledge to disarm the populace. The GOP, on the other hand, uses treachery and deception to mislead the citizenry into thinking that they will “protect” the right to keep and bear arms. Yet, it is clearly evident that they are enemies of liberty as well.
The N.R.A. donated nearly $3 million to Republican candidates during the 2000 election cycle, and gun rights groups contributed over $90,000 to President Bush’s campaign alone. I guess $90,000 doesn’t buy much influence in Washington these days.