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Some people view the political spectrum as a straight line going from
left to right. But there are times when it becomes a circle. The circle
is usually closed when the extremes of both positions come together.
Last Friday the extreme left and the extreme right closed the circle and
defeated HR 2122, thereby keeping any and all gun control provisions
from being added to HR. 1501, the House version of the Juvenile Justice
Not surprising there is great gnashing of teeth and finger pointing
by those that supported the Clinton-Reno-Lautenberg-McCarthy proposals,
especially the news media. During the week preceding the House votes,
the media coverage was at a fever pitch — stories and articles that
mimicked the coverage of the Super Bowl, or at least a championship
prize fight. That fight was portrayed as an underdog housewife turned
Congresswoman from Long Island versus the well-oiled political machine
of the National Rifle Association (NRA).
The New York Times
reported on the gun-control fight no fewer than 28 times since May,
while it editorially supported the Lautenberg and McCarthy amendments.
Its depiction of the “sainted” Congresswoman was a lesson in biased
- In this, Mrs. McCarthy was at the heart of far more than just
sisterly solidarity. With an eye for the national elections next year,
the Democrats carefully used every dominant tableau and keynote speech
this week to present gun control as a prime issue among women alarmed
for the safety of their families. In the duel of sound bites and photo
opportunities, Mrs. McCarthy led the Democratic congresswomen in
crowding maternally at the microphones, in contrast to the Republicans’
usually male-dominated offerings of cultural jeremiads and celebrations
of the rights of hunters.
The proponents of gun control have always been eager and willing
to use what I call the salami technique. Ask for the whole salami, but
be willing to get one slice at a time. It has worked well in the past.
Gun owners, who fight vehemently against the myriad proposals in a bill,
then become relieved that the proponents will settle for only one slice.
The vote on Friday to dump the final bill signals a change in tactics.
This year the gun prohibitionists were not willing to settle for only
several slices. They believed that they could get at least half, if not
the whole loaf. That was how they prevailed in the Senate. They,
President Clinton, and their media allies were not willing to settle for
anything less than the Lautenberg amendment. Thus the Republicans were
pushed relentlessly until there were enough Republicans who were willing
to vote for Lautenberg. Then Al Gore was brought in to become the
tie-breaking vote, if necessary. That was the winning strategy in the
By focusing on the Lautenberg amendment the debate on the purchase
and ownership of firearms has metamorphosed into a debate on the “gun
show loophole.” Thus everyone on the House floor last Thursday night and
into Friday morning spoke in favor of closing “a loophole.” But the
truth is that the Lautenberg-McCarthy amendment does far more than just
apply the instant check system to a gun show environment.
Here are the facts of what Lautenberg-McCarthy would really do: First
a gun show is defined as an “event” where 50 or more guns and two or
more people are present. Thus any shotgun competition such as the Grand
American at Vandalia would become a “gun show event.” It would require
all gun owners who attend a gun show to register themselves even if all
they do is discuss the possibility of buying or selling a
firearm. Any firearms’ owner who has more than 50 firearms in her
possession, including a widow of a gun collector who wants to give
firearms to her children and grandchildren, could not discuss the
transfer of a single gun without registering with the Bureau of Alcohol,
Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) and paying a fee yet to be determined.
Gun show promoters would be held to standards that even Houdini could
not fulfill reading the mind of an attendee. Thus under the Lautenberg
amendment gun show promoters would be required to keep records of all
attendees. That requirement, not the imposition of instant check, would
force most gun show promoters, whether gun collectors’ organizations or
commercial enterprises, to go out of business.
It would nullify the requirements of both the 1968 Gun Control Act
and the Brady Bill, which prohibit the keeping of records of gun
purchasers. And finally, it authorizes the government to set the fee for
a NICS background check to whatever it wants to charge.
Once one understands the full effect of the Lautenberg-McCarthy
amendments, the gun prohibitionists’ new tactics make a lot of sense. If
they can’t get Lautenberg passed now, they are willing to jettison it
all with the hope of getting several more shots before the 2000
elections. Even the Wall Street Journal came to that conclusion in its
June 22, 1999, Review & Outlook column where the writer stated, “This
skirmish is more about controlling Congress in 2000 than it is
controlling anyone’s guns.” So don’t be surprised when the grandstanding
from the White House keeps on going like the Energizer Bunny. Expect
presidential candidate Al Gore’s political rhetoric regarding guns to
reach a crescendo sometime next fall. All of which will be covered and
commented upon by a biased media for the next 17 months. It’s a
presidential election, stupid.
But we must not forget that we are facing the House-Senate Conference
Committee. This Committee must iron out the many differences between the
Senate Juvenile Justice Bill and HR 1501, the House version with no gun
provisions. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle was quoted as saying,
“There is a glimmer of hope that we can put it back in conference,” when
discussing the Senate passed Lautenberg amendment. We shall see the
strength of the House conferees’ backbone when they meet their Senate
counterparts, who will most likely include Senators, Kennedy, Kohl, and
This past week a letter, published in the Washington
Times, was delivered to
Congress, which was signed by 287 economists, law-school professors and
other academics. These learned scholars, many of whom have examined the
Second Amendment, closed their letter with the following admonition:
- With the 20,000 gun laws already on the books, we advise
Congress, before enacting yet more new laws, to investigate whether many
of the existing laws may have contributed to the problems we currently
face. The new legislation is ill-advised.
Yes, the new legislation is truly ill-advised. But the argument
now is really about the Second Amendment. I and many other gun-owning
civil libertarians are getting truly tired of listening to politicians
who say, “I believe in the Second Amendment, but. …” It’s come down to
a simple proposition. The gun prohibitionists want to take away
everyone’s guns and they believe time is on their side. They will do and
say anything in order to move one step closer to their goal. You see,
it’s not the “gun show loophole;” it’s the Second Amendment loophole
they intend to close.