Following news that Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) would not include Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) 2013 Assault Weapons Ban in a package of gun control bills to be reviewed by the full Senate next month, journalist and pundits around the country claimed that the National Rifle Association and gun owners had won, that the draconian measure that banned 157 modern sporting rifles by name and magazines that hold over 10 rounds of ammo was kaput.
Here are several headlines:
- Breitbart.com: “NRA Defeats Media: Assault Weapons Ban Goes Down in Flames”
- Washington Times: “RIP National ‘Assault Weapon’ Ban“
- The New Yorker: “The NRA Wins Again”
- The Blaze: “Fein-Stymied: Assault Weapons Ban Won’t Even Make it into Final Gun Control Bill”
Well, I’m here to tell you that the sun has not set on Feinstein’s AWB, that the fat lady has not started to sing, that while it may be in critical condition, the AWB still has a pulse. There exists a possibility, no matter how slim it seems right now, that a federal ban on ‘assault weapons’ becomes law.
1. Feinstein: “I’m not gonna lie down and play dead.”
If you think for one second that Feinstein’s going to go gently into that good night, you’re crazier than she is. The Senator from California will fight tooth and nail to see that her bill not only gets a vote, but becomes law.
Yes, she seemed a little dejected after she got wind that Reid would omit her bill from the broader package, but she is resolved to see the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens curtailed in a meaningful way, as she says, “Dry up supply of these weapon.”
Gun owners who underestimate the resourcefulness of this old shrew do so at their own peril:
2. White House: “We’re going to work on this. We’re going to find the votes.”
Along with Feinstein, the White House has made if very clear that it’s not going to give up the fight.
In an interview with the CNN’s Jake Tapper, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough related that President Obama did not view the omission of the AWB as a setback. To be clear, there will still be an amendatory vote on the AWB to see if the Senate wants to add it to the larger package (which is actually how the Clinton-era AWB got passed, see video above).
“We’re going to work on this. We’re going to find the votes,” McDonough said, according to a transcript. “And it deserves a vote and let’s see if we can get it done.”
As Reid noted on Tuesday, “Right now her amendment, using the most optimistic numbers, has less than 40 votes. I — that’s not 60.”
We know that President Obama can effectively use the bully pulpit (Obamacare), so is it within the realm of possibility that he, at the last minute, strong-arms some feeble-minded politicians into backing the AWB? Certainly.
3. Public opinion
Support for the AWB is waning in some circles, or so it appears. But still, an (uninformed) public favors one, if you believe the last poll conducted by Gallup or one recently conducted by ABC News/Washington Post.
According to the findings below, 60 percent of respondents said that they would vote for a law that reinstated and strengthened the ban on ‘assault’ weapons that was in place from 1994 to 2004.
Even though, as Paul Barrett, author of the Glock book, reminded us in a recent article, it’s not public opinion or the popular vote that matters, but the views of Democrats in pro-gun states that will ultimately decide the fate of the AWB, I still find this concerning:
4. One tragedy away
Politicians are fickle creatures. They get easily swept up in the ebb and flow of a political tide. While a ban on modern sporting rifles makes zero sense, empirically speaking (less than 4 percent of all gun-related homicides are committed with any type of rifle, let alone a so-called ‘assault’ weapon), politicians are not afraid to abandon reason and common sense for feel-good, knee-jerk legislation.
In short, politicians are prisoners of the moment. And in a hypersensitive, post-Sandy Hook political climate, I believe we’re a tragedy away from a revival of the ban.
To put it another way, the shooting at Newtown was a tipping point of sorts, it reignited the national debate on gun control and primed the pump for gun control reform, were another sociopath to pick up a modern sporting rifle and shoot up a mall or a school between now and when the Senate votes on the bill, that would really give Feinstein and Obama the momentum they needed to push it through Congress.
Unfortunately, we came pretty close just the other day.
5. Ask New Yorkers if the AWB is dead
If you consider Feinstein’s AWB from a macro-scale, it’s like a gremlin that’s been doused in water.
Weird analogy, but consider the fact that it’s spawned a bunch of menacing gun bans at the state level. To be more specific, it seems as though parts of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY SAFE Act were modeled after ideas that were the brainchild of Feinstein (if not her latest AWB, then her Clinton-era ban).
A specific example might be the idea that the definition of an ‘assault’ weapon should be broadened to include semiautomatic rifles with just one cosmetic feature (pistol grip, forward, grip, folding, telescoping, or detachable stock, etc.) as opposed to the old definition, which arbitrarily asserted that two cosmetic features made the rifle an ‘assault’ weapon.
The point is this, even if Feinstein’s federal gun ban is killed in the Senate, it will have a lasting effect in pro-gun-control-leaning states like New York, California, Illinois, etc., as state lawmakers will use it as a template for their own gun bans. And let’s face it, if only five states pass a stringent AWB in the coming months, gun control advocates will see it as a major victory and something to build on for the future.
As gun owners, as patriots, as Second Amendment supporters we can’t take our foot of the gas pedal coming down the stretch with respect to activism and outreach to state and federal officials. Feinstein’s AWB may be on life support, but it ain’t dead yet.