Dianne Feinstein's Stunning Ignorance
Last week, Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced gun control legislation that would among other things ban the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacture of "120 specifically-named firearms, certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one military characteristic, and semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds."
The summary of the senator's bill says that it will not affect the rights of "legitimate" hunters. Notice that it does not say the "legitimate rights of hunters." Instead, it focuses attention on "legitimate hunters". There must be some alien substance in the rarefied air that Feinstein breathes in Washington and San Francisco that would cause her to draw that distinction while completely ignoring the constitutionally protected rights of U.S. citizens and the constitutional questions that her bill raises.
According to Daniel Halper at The Weekly Standard, Feinstein's proposed legislation exempts government officials and certain others from having to abide by the bill's provisions. That supports what many of us fear might be taking place behind the scenes. By design or unwittingly, our elected officials appear to be on a trajectory that will eventually lead to the confiscation of guns owned by law-abiding citizens. If that happens, government officials and "others" to be named later will be the only ones in this country who possess guns besides criminals, of course, who don't care one way or the other what the law says. At that point, law-abiding citizens will be defenseless, or as George Mason, co-author of the Second Amendment, aptly said, "Enslaved."
Reading the summary of Feinstein's bill and the legislation itself will be worth your time, but I won't dwell on them here. Instead, I want to take a look at an interview that Senator Feinstein gave to Bob Schieffer on CBS' Face the Nation yesterday.
During the interview, the senator said that a recent poll of 50,000 people showed that 68% of our fellow citizens support a ban on assault weapons. Then she listed supporters of the proposed ban: the United States Conference of Mayors, major city chiefs (of police), the largest police organization in the world, individual (police) chiefs and sheriffs, pediatricians, trauma room surgeons, teachers, clergy, and the Dean of the National Cathedral who she said plans to organize clergy to promote the ban. These people need to wake up before it's too late, because they will become victims, too, if we disarm our citizenry.
When Schieffer asked Feinstein specifically about the right of gun owners to keep and bear arms, a constitutionally protected right, she changed the subject immediately and talked about the rights of children in school, attorneys in their offices, shoppers in malls, movie theatre goers, and others to be safe. None of the people that she mentioned for dramatic effect have anything to fear from law-abiding citizens who will bear the brunt of her proposed legislation, but they do have something to fear from criminals and insane people who ignore our laws completely and apparently with impunity.
Schieffer then asked the senator what she thought about the argument that hers was merely "feel good" legislation that would not prevent the horrific incidents that she mentioned. With a resolute tone, she said, "That's not true." Then she said something that all of us need to understand. She said that she would like to see all guns in the U.S. registered (although that requirement is not in her bill), to see that weapons are in the hands of only "responsible citizens", to see that weapons are used legally and not illegally, and to see that guns don't "fall into the hands of gangs." Thus, if the senator had her way, she would restrict gun ownership to those she thinks are worthy. That's what those of us who want to protect our Second Amendment rights fear most.
At the mention of gangs, Feinstein launched into a rambling, almost incoherent tirade that exposed the fallacy of her argument and the idiocy of her bill. She said, "Do you realize that we have 150,000 plus gang members in this nation? When they go up against the police, it's generally an AK 47. Do you realize that police have had to break into gun stores to get weapons that would be stronger than the adversary they have? Do you realize that one out of every five law enforcement officers that's killed is killed with an assault weapon? Do you need assault weapons? These are weapons that are made to kill large numbers of people in close combat, and what we have found that now with the AR 15, they have a slide stock which you put in. It's legal, and it makes the gun act fully automatic."
Some of the things that Feinstein said are simply not true. For example, the slide stock that she said makes an AR 15 "act fully automatic" doesn't do that. Nothing except a fully automatic weapon "acts fully automatic." If the senator would take the time to familiarize herself with the weapons that she proposes to ban and their accessories, she would know that. But even more important, does she believe that imposing a ban on "assault weapons" would keep gang members and other menacing groups and individuals from owing and using them? If she does, then she needs to be admitted to an institution for observation for diminished capacity.
Having worked with the FBI and the DEA, I can tell you from firsthand experience that drug dealers and members of gangs and cartels have the resources they need to acquire any weapons they want including so-called "assault weapons", grenade launchers, mines, Humvees with attached .50 caliber machine guns, bombs, and even weapons grade plutonium in small quantities. Senator Feinstein should know this. Does she honestly believe that her bill will restrict their access to these and other weapons in any way whatsoever? Obviously, she does, and that's why I think she is living in a make-believe world.
The only people who will be affected by Senator Feinstein's proposed legislation are law-abiding citizens who may be called upon one day to defend themselves and their families from invasion by well-armed gang members and/or others (i.e., the very same people that the senator fears), not to mention a tyrannical government that is committed to enslaving us. If Feinstein's legislation passes and we move farther down the path toward eventual weapons confiscation, that is a very real possibility -- one that our Founding Fathers warned us about more than 200 years ago. In other words, we need even more fire power than we have now, not less.
Neil Snyder is the Ralph A. Beeton Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. His blog, SnyderTalk.com, is posted daily.