by Max Brantley
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is not going to miss an opportunity to demagogue a gun issue, as he does today by joining a minority of U.S. attorney generals in a letter opposing a renewal of U.S. limits on certain types of semi-automatic rifles. There's a governor's race in 2014 to consider and Rep. Mike Ross is already out front on this. So now comes Dustin, Second Amendment blazing..
It's also a straw man. McDaniel is opposing something President Obama has not proposed.
LITTLE ROCK- Today, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel, along with Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and 21 other State Attorneys General, sent a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder expressing their opposition to the reinstatement of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994's semi-automatic firearms prohibition, which is commonly referred to as the "Assault Weapons Ban."
In the letter, Generals Abbott and McDaniel note President Obama's appreciation for the great conservation legacy of America's hunters. They go on to say, "We share that appreciation for hunters and are committed to defending our Second Amendment rights--which is why we believe that additional gun control laws are unnecessary. Instead, authorities need to enforce laws that are already in place.
"I certainly share the President's desire to reduce violent crime in our country, and across our borders," McDaniel said. "However, based on the facts available, there is no reason to believe this law will result in any meaningful reduction in such crime and, therefore, does not justify further infringement on Americans' Second Amendment rights."
The text of the letter follows:
The Honorable Eric Holder
United States Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Dear Attorney General Holder:
We the undersigned Attorneys General respectfully write to express our opposition to the
reinstatement of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994's semiautomatic firearms prohibition, which is commonly referred to as the assault weapons
As the states' top law enforcement officials, we share the Obama Administration's
commitment to reducing illegal drugs and violent crime within the United States. We
also share your deep concern about drug cartel violence in Mexico. However, we do not
believe that restricting law-abiding Americans' access to certain semi-automatic firearms
will resolve any of these problems. So, we were pleased by the President's recent
comments indicating his desire to enforce current laws - rather than reinstate the ban on
so-called assault weapons.
As you know, the 1994 ban on so-called 'assault weapons' did not apply to machine guns
or other fully automatic firearms. Machine gun ownership was first regulated when the
National Firearms Act was passed in 1934. And more than twenty years ago, Congress
took additional steps to ban fully automatic weapons. Because fully automatic machine
guns have already been banned, we do not believe that further restricting law-abiding
Americans' access to certain semi-automatic firearms serves any real law enforcement
Recent public statements by congressional leaders reflect that same view. On February
26, 2009, The Hill newspaper quoted the Senate Majority Leader's spokesman saying:
"Sen. Reid would oppose an effort [to] reinstate the ban." When House Speaker Nancy
Pelosi was recently asked whether she supports reinstating the 1994 ban, the Speaker
reportedly responded "No...I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now." We
agree with the Speaker and the Majority Leader.
The same sentiment has also been expressed to you by sixty-five (65) Congressional
Democrats in a letter dated March 17, 2009. In that letter, they astutely noted, "It is hard
to believe the ban would be...effective in controlling crime by well-funded international
drug traffickers, who regularly use grenade launchers, anti-tank rockets, and other
weapons that are not available on the civilian market in the United States."
Under Title 18, Section 924 of the U.S. Code, knowingly transferring a firearm to an individual who will use that firearm to commit a violent or drug-related crime is already a federal offense. Similarly, it is also a felony to possess a firearm for the purpose of furthering drug trafficking. At a recent Congressional hearing, Kumar Kibble, the Deputy Director of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement's Office of Investigations, testified that the Patriot Act included changes to Title 18, Section 554 of the U.S. Code, which improved federal authorities' ability to investigate and prosecute illegal smuggling.
As Attorneys General, we are committed to defending our constituents' constitutional
rights - including their constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms. This duty
is particularly important in light of the United States Supreme Court's recent Heller
decision, which held that the Second Amendment "elevated above all other interests the
right of law-abiding, responsible citizens to use arms in defense of hearth and home."
The high court's landmark decision affirmed that individual Americans have a
constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms. We, the undersigned Attorneys
General, are staunch defenders of that right and believe that it should not be encroached
upon without sound justification - and a clear law enforcement purpose.
We are pleased that the Administration appears to conform with the Congressional
leadership's position on this very important issue. Importantly, the White House website
no longer calls for the reinstatement of the 1994 ban. In fact, it expressly acknowledges
"the great conservation legacy of America's hunters." We share that appreciation for
hunters and are committed to defending our Second Amendment rights--which is why
we believe that additional gun control laws are unnecessary. Instead, authorities need to
enforce laws that are already in place.
As Attorneys General, we look forward to working with you and President Obama on
common-sense law enforcement solutions to transnational crime. We stand ready to
cooperate and collaborate on crime prevention and law enforcement initiatives that will
protect our constituents, crack down on transnational crime, and help reduce narcotics
consumption in the United States. But, for the reasons explained in this letter, we do not
believe that reinstating the 1994 assault weapons ban will solve the problems currently
facing the United States or Mexico.
(Attorneys General Dustin McDaniel and Greg Abbott followed by other AGs,
alphabetically by state)