Warren offers full support to assault weapons ban

Email from the Senator-elect:

[W]hen I get to the Senate, I will sign onto Senator Feinstein’s bill to re-instate a ban on assault weapons and other commonsense gun control measures. …

Re-authorizing the assault weapons ban is a responsible first step that we can take now. Is that all we can do? Of course not. Is it a full solution that will stop all gun violence? No, but it is a start.

Senator Kerry has made the same commitment.

Good first steps, indeed, but our Senators should lead, not just follow Senator Feinstein and whoever else may happen to introduce “commonsense gun control measures.” What is the good of being one of the most prominent politicians in the country, or a stellar law professor, from the greatest state in the nation, if you can’t draft the best laws?

Military-grade technology like that used to massacre 20 six-year olds and their teachers should not be permitted in private hands. This technology is relatively new in our society, and its impact is now being felt. Anything less enables future atrocities, which will happen again without fundamental change.

No semi-automatic weapons, large capacity magazines, and blow-a-six-year-olds-head-off ammunition, no Newtown. Effective anti-massacre legislation in Australia and England is a powerful example. No fatalities in a Chinese madman’s knife attack on school children and their teacher last week underlines the point.

Brian McCrory was closer to the mark in his column today:

To start, we need a comprehensive national ban, free of loopholes, on the weapon of choice for massacres: the lightweight, semi-automatic assault rifle known as the AR-15. Ban the high capacity clips that feed them. Require background checks for all purchases, including at gun shows and in private transactions. Fund a national buyback.

The AR-15, however, is a symptom, not the disease. What needs to be banned is not any particular weapon but the military-grade technology used at Newtown: semi-automatic rifles and handguns, high-capacity magazines, and special ammunition.

A more constructive approach is the estimable Peter Porcupine’s suggestion on Red Mass Group for affirmative legalization of a limited number of weapons with everything else prohibited. Single shot rifles and shotguns, which are useful for hunting and effective for self-defense, are plenty. If that had been the law, there would likely be a lot of six year olds and their teachers at home with their families this Christmas instead of buried in tiny coffins.

Our fabulous national representatives should lead, not follow.

Recommended by somervilletom, williamstowndem.


14 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I like PP's suggestion

    Wading through the comments was tough to do – massive kudos to Simple J Malarkey for engaging those folks!

    • Comments are scary

      Wow, those comments are scary. I particularly liked this poster:

      We have more people who have had their consciousnesses ill formed, if at all. We have more people who are disconnected from any moral core. We have more people who have had their lives severed from any familial/community connection.

      Yes, it’s obvious that our morals/religion are responsible for our troubles. Of course, a bit earlier in the thread, he wrote:

      From my cold, dead hands – No, I will not negotiate & surrender my right to keep & bear arms.

      Hmm. If Jesus returned to earth, do you think he would be high-fiving the assault weapon owners?

      • "From my cold, dead hands –

        No, I will not negotiate & surrender my right to keep & bear arms”

        I can’t say the original source of that comment, but it sounds like a paraphrase of something the late Charlton Heston said as president of the NRA just before he died. He said it while holding an assault rifle aloft as if in salute to the cause.

        • indeed

        • He wasn't the first

          It was a popular slogan in the NRA crowd even before they picked Heston as spokesman. I don’t recall seeing him say it while holding an assault rifle, but he said it a lot, so it’s possible. I do recall him saying it while waving a flintlock musket over his head – as if anyone was trying to ban those.

          • Maybe it's the musket I remember.

            Speaking of muskets. As long as conservatives are fond of taking the words of the Constitution literally, without considering the time in which they were written, how about if we interpret the Second Amendment to mean that citizens can own what was available when it was written? We have the right to own muskets, black powder, lead ball, flintlock muskets. Everything else is subject to the whims of any laws we choose to enact.

        • Treason against the United States

          I think this is worth printing:

          Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort. No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

          This is Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution. This explicitly states that it is treason to levy war against the United States.

          This should be repeated every single time someone suggests that the purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to allow people to rise up against (or defend themselves from) an oppressive government.

          This line of thinking must be called out for what it is. People who believe in that are expressly advocating treason.

  2. I *don't* thiunk Warren should lead on this

    nor Kerry, nor Feinstein. At least, they shouldn’t be public leaders.

    I want legislation passed which reduces the problem. Lots of ways to reduce the problem, and more than one bill could help. Thing is, I want them passed.

    The fact of the matter is, fair or foul, the GOP has demonized California, Massachusetts, NYC, Chicago, and other deep blue areas. Ergo, the public leadership on this issue needs to come from folks like Senator Reid and Senator Manchin — senators who use guns, from states full of voters who love guns. It simply gives the proposal a better starting place, even for an identical proposal.

    I want these things to pass, and if the public leaders are senators from California and Massachusetts, the optics are hard on senators from states with voters more favorable toward gun ownership. It’s harder for Manchin to vote for a Feinstein bill than for Feinstein to vote for the identical Manchin bill. So why not have Manchin lead the charge publicly?

  3. We also don't need too many cooks in the kitchen.

    Both our Senators, as well as whoever is next (and it appears increasingly likely there will be a next soon), have their niches. If Feinstein was first out of the gate on this one I see no problem with others jumping on board. In fact I would probably prefer that to multiple Senators all thinking they need to be leaders offering competing legislation just so they get their own names in the press.

  4. Obama's presser

    This afternoon, the president announced that he is tasking Vice President Biden with coming up with a set of recommendations by January. This, IMHO, is very good news. Here are his opening remarks:

    THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. It’s now been five days since the heartbreaking tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut; three days since we gathered as a nation to pray for the victims. And today, a few more of the 20 small children and six educators who were taken from us will be laid to rest.

    We may never know all the reasons why this tragedy happened. We do know that every day since, more Americans have died of gun violence. We know such violence has terrible consequences for our society. And if there is even one thing that we can do to prevent any of these events, we have a deep obligation — all of us — to try.

    Over these past five days, a discussion has reemerged as to what we might do not only to deter mass shootings in the future, but to reduce the epidemic of gun violence that plagues this country every single day. And it’s encouraging that people of all different backgrounds and beliefs and political persuasions have been willing to challenge some old assumptions and change longstanding positions.

    That conversation has to continue. But this time, the words need to lead to action.

    We know this is a complex issue that stirs deeply held passions and political divides. And as I said on Sunday night, there’s no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence in our society. We’re going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any actions we must take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts.

    But the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing. The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence, and prevent the very worst violence.

    That’s why I’ve asked the Vice President to lead an effort that includes members of my Cabinet and outside organizations to come up with a set of concrete proposals no later than January — proposals that I then intend to push without delay. This is not some Washington commission. This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside. This is a team that has a very specific task, to pull together real reforms right now. I asked Joe to lead this effort in part because he wrote the 1994 Crime Bill that helped law enforcement bring down the rate of violent crime in this country. That plan — that bill also included the assault weapons ban that was publicly supported at the time by former Presidents including Ronald Reagan.

    The good news is there’s already a growing consensus for us to build from. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high-capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases, so that criminals can’t take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from somebody who won’t take the responsibility of doing a background check at all.

    I urge the new Congress to hold votes on these measures next year in a timely manner. And considering Congress hasn’t confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms in six years — the agency that works most closely with state and local law enforcement to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals — I’d suggest that they make this a priority early in the year.

    Look, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation. Obviously across the country there are regional differences. There are differences between how people feel in urban areas and rural areas. And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible — they buy their guns legally and they use them safely, whether for hunting or sport shooting, collection or protection.

    But you know what, I am also betting that the majority — the vast majority — of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I’m willing to bet that they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas — that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to get his hands on a military-style assault rifle so easily; that in this age of technology, we should be able to check someone’s criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show; that if we work harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown — or any of the lesser-known tragedies that visit small towns and big cities all across America every day.

    Since Friday morning, a police officer was gunned down in Memphis, leaving four children without their mother. Two officers were killed outside a grocery store in Topeka. A woman was shot and killed inside a Las Vegas casino. Three people were shot inside an Alabama hospital. A four-year-old was caught in a drive-by in Missouri, and taken off life support just yesterday. Each one of these Americans was a victim of the everyday gun violence that takes the lives of more than 10,000 Americans every year — violence that we cannot accept as routine.

    So I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. We won’t prevent them all — but that can’t be an excuse not to try. It won’t be easy — but that can’t be an excuse not to try.

    And I’m not going to be able to do it by myself. Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it’s going to require the help of the American people — it’s going to require all of you. If we’re going to change things, it’s going to take a wave of Americans — mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, pastors, law enforcement, mental health professionals — and, yes, gun owners — standing up and saying “enough” on behalf of our kids.

    It will take commitment and compromise, and most of all, it will take courage. But if those of us who were sent here to serve the public trust can summon even one tiny iota of the courage those teachers, that principal in Newtown summoned on Friday — if cooperation and common sense prevail — then I’m convinced we can make a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place for our children to learn and to grow.

  5. For the record

    In January 2011, following an Arizona shooting that killed six people and injured US Representative Gabrielle Giffords, Brown offered more pointed opposition to federal gun restric­tions, saying he was “not in favor of doing any additional federal regulations with regard to any type of weapons or federal gun changes.’’
    (Of course Brown’s statements are all over the map, but this one is clear and we should remember it.)

  6. Lots of comments here

    but little of it is politically workable, and most of it is ineffective.

    Unlike Australia and the UK, we have an affirmative, constitutional right to bear arms, so all the talk about “banning” will instantly shut down any national conversation about “the problem,” however defined by app parties.

    The tragedy in Newtown is a terrible thing. I was very deeply effected by it for many days, sick to my stomach. I cannot watch news about it on television. I never want to see this happen again.

    I know BMG is a convenient megaphone for the progressive point of view, but on this issue, it’s a minority view.

    • Selective hearing?

      1. Nobody is talking about banning guns.
      2. That study you link shows that people think that banning semi-automatics would be effective, 64-34. That’s a majority view if I ever saw one.

      However, Dems would do well to notice where Indies line up closer to the GOP respondents, and where the Indies line up closer to the Dems. That might be a big help on figuring out what part of increasing gun control can be perceived broadly as sensible and effective.

      • Hi stomv

        (1) Bob Neer is talking about banning. Australia and UK references are about banning, even retroactive banning, and gun prohibition.
        (2) Right, I misread the “Somewhat” column. However, it’s fourth on the list of what people think would be effective. Except for restrictions on semi-autos, I think D/I/R opinion is pretty similar. (As for the mental health question, I think it is poorly worded. Many gun owners, even the NRA, are all for reporting in some fashion mental health problems to prevent gun/ammo purchase and access.)

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