To the dismay of the Brady Campaign and other gun ban groups, President Barack Obama didn’t address gun control during his State of the Union address on January 25th. However, Newsweek reports that “in the next two weeks, the White House will unveil a new gun-control effort,” and that the White House confirms, “Obama will address the gun issue in a separate speech, likely early next month.” According to Newsweek, Obama believes that gun laws have been “too loose for much longer than just the past few weeks” following the murders in Tucson, Arizona.
Precisely what President Obama might have in mind is uncertain. His post-election transition website advocated reimposing the expired federal “assault weapon” ban, but that ban would clearly be irrelevant in the wake of a shooting that involved a firearm not covered by the old ban.
The President, a long-time gun control supporter, has been conspicuously silent on gun control restrictions since taking office. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the anti-gun groups prodding him to support their agendas. Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which sent the President a long list of gun control recommendations in August of 2009, is proposing that all private sales of firearms be subject to checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)—which would have been irrelevant in Tucson, since the accused killer acquired his guns from a dealer. MAIG is also calling for “fixing” NICS. Among the many “fixes” the group has in mind is that “people who have been suspended or expelled from a federally funded college or university because of mental illness” and “people who are compelled by a court to take medication for mental illness or to get other mental health care” would be prohibited from possessing firearms. MAIG also proposes to extend the prohibition to anyone who has had a drug-related arrest, a failed drug test, an admission of drug use, or a drug-related conviction within the previous five years.
Concurrently, the Brady Campaign is throwing its support behind H.R. 308—the “more than 10 round” magazine ban introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.)—and asks the group’s supporters to sign a petition urging “a few basic steps,” with neither the “steps” nor the intended recipient of the petition disclosed (to read a detailed fact sheet on H.R. 308, please click here).
The Violence Policy Center, which guided McCarthy in crafting her magazine ban bill, is supporting it with yet another of its countless “analyses”– Accessories to Murder: High-Capacity Magazines—and a similar effort directed against the type of pistol used in Tucson. The VPC uses the opportunity to suggest, as it often does, that gun ownership is fading, by referring to standard magazines for self-defense handguns as a marketing tool the firearm industry uses to appeal to “its shrinking customer base.” That’s an interesting argument to hear from a group that has no members, while the number of guns possessed by Americans increases year after year.
The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence—VPC leader Josh Sugarmann’s employer back when the group was known as the National Coalition to Ban Handguns—advocates not merely running NICS checks on gun buyers, but “investigating” them as well. The group also insists that the Tucson shooting was the result of “insurrectionist rhetoric” the group blames on conservatives, various politicians, and the five justices who joined the Supreme Court’s Heller decision—rather than being the act of one deranged individual, as all available evidence suggests.
And, in a return to his modus operandi of vilifying gun shows and the purchase of firearms by show attendees, this week anti-gun Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), introduced legislation to “establish background check procedures for gun shows.” As usual, this bill is not about gun shows. Rather, S. 35 is the latest rendition in a long line of Lautenberg-introduced bills that are nothing more than “solutions” in search of a problem. Numerous government studies have determined that gun shows are an insignificant source of firearms misused in crime.
Which, if any, of these proposals and theories will get the president’s endorsement remains to be seen. But gun owners should be prepared: The second two years of President Obama’s term may be tougher than the first.
Copyright 2010, National Rifle Association of America, Institute for Legislative Action.
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