The Obama administration has announced a sweeping plan to help curb Mexican violence across the border – ban “assault weapons” in the United States.
“As President Obama indicated during the campaign, 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,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a news conference at the Justice Department yesterday.
While he said the ban would be a good move for the U.S., he also claims it will reduce the number of guns reaching Mexico’s brutal drug cartels.
“I think that will have a positive impact in Mexico, at a minimum,” Holder said.
Mexican officials say the desire for sophisticated guns is encouraging drug cartels to clash over access routes into the U.S.
“International drug trafficking organizations pose a sustained, serious threat to the safety and security of our communities,” Holder said. “As the world grows smaller and international criminals step up their efforts to operate inside our borders, the Department of Justice will confront them head on to keep our communities safe.”
Holder didn’t reveal when the Obama administration will seek to reimplement the ban. In 1994, former President Clinton outlawed 19 types of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition clips when he signed the Assault Weapons Ban into law.
Wayne LaPierre, president of the National Rifle Association, told ABC News, “I think there are a lot of Democrats on Capitol Hill cringing at Eric Holder’s comments right now.”
The NRA estimates that semi-automatic weapons account for approximately 15 percent of 250 million firearms owned in the U.S.
During his confirmation hearing, Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee the Obama administration may consider other methods of controlling guns, according to the report.
“I think closing the gun show loophole, the banning of cop-killer bullets and I also think that making the assault weapons ban permanent, would be something that would be permitted under Heller,” Holder said, referring to the Supreme Court case Washington, D.C. v. Heller.
Holder, a former Clinton administration official, endorsed the District of Columbia’s complete ban on functional guns in residents’ homes before it was overturned by the Supreme Court. The court decided in the D.C. vs. Heller case that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own firearms, not just the right for states to form armed militias.
“A semi-automatic is a quintessential self-defense firearm owned by American citizens in this country,” LaPierre said. “I think it is clearly covered under Heller and it’s clearly, I think, protected by the Constitution.”