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Posted by on Apr 16, 2009 in Politics | 14 comments

Republican Senator Says Obama Aims To Disarm Americans

If you’re wondering where the insistence by some conservatives and Fox News comes from that the Obama administration wants to take all of American’s guns away then a good place to start will be the rhetoric of some GOP lawmakers.

The context: Attorney General Eric Holder has always been an advocate of some forms of gun control. He has also made it known that he personally would like to see a ban on assault weapons. So some cable and radio personalities who seek to whip up an audience — and some elected officials who seek to whip up and win over audiences — have generalized this and talk about the administration seeking to disarm Americans and in effect take all guns away.

Eric Zimmermann of The Hill’s blog gives us a concrete example HERE:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) said this week that the administration will try “all sorts of things” to chip away at the individual right to own a gun, warning of gun control policies aimed at “disarming us.”

Speaking at a town hall meeting in Cushing, Oklahoma, Coburn warned that Attorney General Eric Holder “doesn’t believe in the second amendment” and “doesn’t even know what an assault weapon is.”

“He doesn’t believe in our right to own and hold a gun,” Coburn said of Holder, whose nomination he vigorously opposed. “He doesn’t believe the Second Amendment means it’s a right for me to have a gun to protect myself.”

Coburn added: “Disarming us is not the answer.”

Coburn was likely referring to Holder’s belief that the Second Amendment confers a “collective right” to own guns, as opposed to the “individual right” interpretation that Coburn and other conservative embrace.

There’s more so go to the link — which also provides the actual audio. Last week The Hill had this item about Holder’s real (versus characterized by political opponents) stance as shown in his interview with CBS’s Katie Couric:

Attorney General Eric Holder said the White House did not tell him to back off after he called for the reinstatement of the assault-weapons ban in late February.

In an interview with CBS that aired on Wednesday, Holder said, “No one’s told me to back off. I understand the Second Amendment. I respect the Second Amendment.”

Yet Holder’s comments on gun control were more tempered than his remarks in Mexico six weeks ago, when he said that “there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons.” Holder added at the time that the reinstatement of the ban, which expired in 2004, would have a positive impact on the drug-related violence in Mexico.

Asked if the gun issue has become political and if Democrats are getting cozy with the National Rifle Association (NRA), Holder responded, “I don’t think it has and in fact, I look forward to working with the NRA to come up with ways in which we can use common-sense approaches to reduce the level of violence that we see in our streets and make the American people as safe as they can possibly be.”

Holder initially dodged a question on “closing the gun-show loophole” but when pressed said, “These are issues that we’ll have to discuss. The president will be the one who will ultimately set policy — things that are politically saleable and things that will ultimately be effective.”

Asked if the gun show loophole falls in those categories, Holder said, “That’ll be one of the things that I’ll discuss with the president.”

Newsweek offers this on the administrations actual position:

Running for president in last year’s Democratic primaries, Barack Obama promised to restore a federal ban on certain semiautomatic assault guns—a position that’s still on the White House Web site. The ban was originally passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 1994 and lapsed five years ago. In recent years the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also lifted virtually all restrictions on imports of foreign-made assault weapons, permitting a flood of cheap Romanian, Bulgarian and other Eastern European AK-47s to enter the country, according to gun-control groups. “There’s been an absolute deluge of these weapons,” says Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center.

But Obama and top White House aides have all but abandoned the issue. Emanuel helped orchestrate passage of the original assault-weapons ban when he worked in the Clinton White House. Now he and other White House strategists have decided they can’t afford to tangle with the National Rifle Association at a time when they’re pushing other priorities, like economic renewal and health-care reform, say congressional officials who have raised the matter. (According to his office, Emanuel couldn’t be reached for comment because he was observing the Passover holiday.) A White House official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal strategy, says, “There isn’t support in Congress for such a ban at this time.” Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, says, “The president supports the Second Amendment, respects the tradition of gun ownership in this country, and he believes we can take common-sense steps to keep our streets safe,” pointing to $2 billion in new funding for state and local law enforcement in the stimulus package.

……The new Democratic squishiness on guns is all about politics. Democratic leaders like House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer are determined to protect the seats of “blue dogs” from rural districts who are essential to preserving the party’s majority in the House. “The Democratic Party understands this is a losing issue … It’s a dead loser,” says Democratic Rep. Dan Boren, of Muskogee, Okla. “Its one of the reasons they lost the Congress in 1994 and Al Gore was not elected president in 2000.”

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  • elrod

    That’s pretty boilerplate rhetoric from anti-gun control folks. “Disarming” is usually meant banning an expansive class of weapons. The “he doesn’t know what assault weapons are” line makes that clear, as a strong criticism of the assault weapons ban was the vague and silly definition of assault weapons. Basically, it boils down to clip size.

  • kathyedits

    He disarms me everytime he speaks.

  • Braindead

    If you’re wondering where the insistence by some conservatives and Fox News

    I love Fox news. I guess its why its number one. Sorry for you hate spewing agenda driven lefties who cant take the truth.

    Remember GWB once had a 70 percent approval rating too.

  • Perhaps the most problematic of all policy moves by the Clinton administration was the ban on “assault” weapons — because there’s a definitional issue at work.

    The vast majority of people I know who are angry about the “assault weapons ban” wrap up right here. I suspect that if the policy / law makers were to write something that coherently defined weapons properly, there’d be a LOT less hostility and/or paranoia.

  • I have a question. How many folks supporting an “assault weapons ban” understand what it is they’re wanting to ban?

    And before you pounce all over me — I’m appalled by the “ZOMG, they’re going to take away all the guns” hysteria. It’s exactly that type of flaming rhetoric that drives some of the less stable in our society over the edge. But I really am not at all sure everybody’s on the same sheet of music here.

  • kathyedits


  • elrod

    Actually, AK-47s are not banned. Only AK-47s with the 30-round clip are banned. Those with the 15-round clip are still legal.

    That just goes to show how silly this debate is.

  • CStanley

    Polimom, can you enlighten us? I really haven’t followed the debate closely at all. I’m vaguely aware that a lot of people favor reasonable restrictions but as usual, no one agrees on what ‘reasonable’ means except for ‘what makes sense to me.’

    • CStanley — I’m so sorry I dropped out of the dialogue abruptly. Had to go out of town and I forgot this thread.

      What Panza and TMaster have said, with a fair amount of heat and passion, seems to be about right — and they’ve underscored what I was saying in an earlier comment. The anger and (in some cases) paranoia goes back to how the weapons were defined and described to the public — a public that still does not seem to have any idea what it is they’re talking about when the phrase “assault weapons ban” is used.

      I suspect (though I could be totally incorrect) that if Obama were to insist upon honest discussion about weapon types, an actual dialogue would be possible. There would perhaps even be agreement that some weapons really should be banned (though I’m equally sure there would be a percentage of folks who’d screech anyway).

      But without honest, open discussion and clear definitions, an AWB will remain incendiary.

      • CStanley

        Thanks, PM.

  • gdhdcx

    I believe, and this comes from my time with uncle sam that an assault weapon is one designed for close combat, capable of firing multiple rounds(automatic) by pulling, and holding the trigger down, or in. But, and I may be wrong, but I think Slick Willy, and his shadow Al Gore changed the definition of an assault weapon. Most ak-47’s are semi automatic, meaning you must pull the trigger, and release it for each round that is discharged

  • Panza

    Part of the reason people get so upset at the mention of reinstating the “assault weapon” ban is either:

    A: The utter ignorance of firearms several lawmakers display when the advocate a policy they have no understanding of, or

    B. The intentionally deceptive rhetoric used by those anti-gun policy wonks who are taking advantage of the lack of knowledge the general public has regarding firearms.

    Don’t believe me? Check out what Josh Sugarmann of the Violence Policy Center, the guy who came up “assault weapon” ploy, had to say when he penned the reasons for the AWB policy:

    ” Assault weapons……..are a new topic. The weapons’ menacing looks, coupled with the public’s confusion over fully automatic machine guns versus semi-automatic assault weapons—anything that looks like a machine gun is assumed to be a machine gun—can only increase the chance of public support for restrictions on these weapons.”

    Sugarmann authored a book titled “The Case for Banning Handguns in the United States” He and others who advocate this policy have earned the term ‘gun-grabber.’

    Still don’t think the AWB was a scam?

    This gun was LEGAL while the ban was in place:

    Now, pay attention, this gun was illegal until the AWB expired:

    The second rifle has a collapsible stock and a bayonet lug. Oh no!!!

    It was total BS, just a symbolic attempt to demonize gun owners while furthering the goal of encroaching on the individual right to own firearms.

    The “compromise” gun control advocates have in mind is this: “We’ll only take away fewer of your rights than we’d ideally like to have”

    Its ridiculous, the guns pictured above, AR-15’s, have been the most popular rifles sold in the United States for a decade.

    The “assault weapons” ban is a NON-STARTER!!!!!

  • The_Master

    Panza is correct (and Elrod is incorrect). The Assault Weapon Ban was not about the capacity of a weapon’s magazine, although magazine capacity limits were included in the legislation.

    Rather the term “Assault Weapon” was a ‘political Marketing’ term, not a ‘firearms technical’ one. It was deliberately used in order to sow confusion between it, and the U. S. military’s term “assault rifle” i.e. a rifle capable of fully automatic fire as long as the trigger remains depressed–and the magazine does not run out of ammunition.

    The “Assault Weapons” banned by this law were 100% semi-automatic, i.e. when the trigger is depressed one round is fired. It was a “scary looking gun” ban whose supporters–including Bill Clinton–deliberately stoked public confusion and ignorance in order to achieve it’s passage. The crushing defeat Clinton and the Democrats received in 1994, to which outraged 2nd amendment supporters contributed mightily, was IMHO well earned by their disgraceful tactics in this arena. One does not have to think that none of these weapons should have been banned to be disgusted at the way the politicians achieved their ends.

    Spreading disinformation, and relying on (and even increasing) public ignorance is not what makes a democracy work; it’s far more appropriate to a dictatorship. Bill Clinton’s and the Democrats’ willingness to use the tactics of dictatorship and tyranny on such a fundamental constitutional issue were a major factor, again IMHO, in the development of what became Clinton Derangement Syndrome.

    The high number of ex-Clintonites in Barack Obama’s Administration is no doubt contributing to the paranoia on the part of the NRA and others that Obama is going to go down the same road, just as soon as he/they feel strong enough to do it.

    If eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, then these folks (as well as many people less paranoid then they) are damn well determined to be vigilant this time.

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