The recent tragedy at Newtown, Conn.'s Sandy Hook Elementary School has indeed created what my bloleague Brad Bannon described Wednesday on Thomas Jefferson Street as "a teachable moment."
For far too long, some of America's leading politicians have been far less than honest about what they really believe when it comes to guns, gun control, and the Constitution's Second Amendment. What happened at Sandy Hook, as horrific as it was, has brought them out of the shadows into the light of day. Make no mistake. It is now clear that far too many of them, mostly Democrats, believe that no one should be allowed to own a firearm for any reason.
They may talk a good game about respecting the right to self defense and pay lip service in support of hunting and sport shooting but the real truth is that they are simply afraid of antagonizing the millions of people across the country who own guns. They understand that they cannot place themselves at odds with one of the nation's most powerful political constituencies, one that cuts across just about every demographic that can be identified, including race, gender, income, and party lines.
They talk about "banning assault weapons" but the truth is that no such animal exists. You cannot walk into a gun dealer's or a sporting goods store and ask for one. It would be like going into a Chevy dealership and asking for "a car." Like so many other terms in the debate over firearms, "assault weapon" is a political term popularized by the media to describe a gun that might look like something used in war or in a point-and-shoot video game. So the calls to "ban" them are really just the leading wedge of an effort to get rid of all privately-owned firearms.
In the wrong hands, one gun is just as deadly as another. All the talk about taking certain types of the streets or prohibiting the sale of clips that hold more than a certain number of rounds are just window-dressing for the suckers and the rubes, trying to deceive them into thinking the "gun grabbers" only want to get the seriously dangerous weapons out of private hands.
The problem, as is readily apparent given any measure of thought, is that every gun is a "seriously dangerous weapon." This is not, by the way, an argument for unrestricted access by everyone and anyone to every type of firearm available or contemplated; it is merely an explanation of what the advocates for gun control really want.
We know this because it is the only thing that makes sense. Amid all the talk of the senselessness of the tragedy in Newtown come several inescapable realities. One is that Connecticut already has a fairly strict so-called "assault weapons ban" on the books. Another is that the federal legislation on the same subject that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 was allowed to lapse because just about everyone realized it did no good. And the so-called "gun free zones" that are currently in vogue might as well be called "free fire zones" for all the good they do stopping gun violence.
There are sane, sensible, reasonable ways to deal with the problem of gun violence—but most of the gun control crowd is not interested in talking about them. When, for example, was the last time the gun controllers proposed something like a mandatory life sentence for anyone convicted of a felony involving a gun? Since we know that most criminals are recidivists who commit a certain type of crime, locking them away for life would surely cut down on the amount of criminal activity involving guns, wouldn't it? Instead they propose ideas like allowing states and localities to be allowed to sue gun manufacturers to recover the expenses incurred when the victims of gun violence are treated in public hospitals—on its face something that is more about the money and making a few more trial lawyers super-wealthy overnight than anything else.
The intention of those who are now talking up the need for more gun control, for an "assault weapons ban," for further restrictions on the private ownership of firearms in the aftermath of the Newtown mass shooting should be clear: They want to put an end to the private ownership of firearms, once and for all. It's the only way for them to achieve their objective. Nothing short of that will work. For them to claim otherwise is dishonest.
- Read Peter Fenn: The National Rifle Association Is the Problem
- Read Susan Milligan: Robert Bork's Legacy: Nominations Blocked for Politics
- Check out U.S. News Weekly, now available on iPad.