President Barack Obama told NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday that it is his intention to push for a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and that he wants “to get it done in the first year” of his second term, meaning 2013.
The Hill and WFTV both have stories on-line about this development, quoting the president’s intentions. Examiner’s Howard Portnoy suggested Saturday that the exclusive NBC interview was a “reward” to David Gregory for his confrontation last week on Meet the Press with National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
UPDATE: The Seattle Times now has a report on this, and readers are reacting.
Obama told NBC, “I’m going to be putting forward a package and I’m going to be putting my full weight behind it… I’m going to be making an argument to the American people about why this is important and why we have to do everything we can to make sure that something like what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary does not happen again.
“I’ve been very clear that an assault rifle ban,” Mr. Obama said, “banning these high capacity clips, background checks, that there are a set of issues that I have historically supported and will continue to support.”
This comes in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy, the slaying of two firemen in New York and a shooting at the Clackamas mall near Portland, Ore. Recent polling by Gallup suggests he may have public opinion against him, but that did not stop Obamacare from becoming law, nor did it prevent Sen. Dianne Feinstein from pushing a new ban proposal that would include handguns with a single “military characteristic.” That could mean virtually any handgun, and certainly any semi-auto pistol, on the market.
Sales of semiautomatic sport-utility rifles have been surging since before the Dec. 14 mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school. A source at Brownell’s told this column last week that their supply of AR-15 magazines had been depleted, and other sources report the same thing.
Gun shops have been doing a brisk business in semi-auto rifles, in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere. Over the past two weeks, the question has been repeatedly asked, “Why does anyone need such a gun?” The answer has invariably included competition, predator control, recreational shooting and home protection.
Renowned firearms and self-defense instructor, and author Massad Ayoob perhaps offers one of the best dissertations on the subject in his Backwoods Home column, in which he writes, “The cops are the experts on the current criminal trends. If they have determined that a ‘high capacity’ semiautomatic pistol and a .223 semiautomatic rifle with 30-round magazines are the best firearms for them to use to protect people like me and my family, they are obviously the best things for us to use to protect ourselves and our families.”
When the president announced several days ago that he was appointing a task force, headed by anti-gun Vice President Joe Biden, he said that the effort would include members of his cabinet and other interest groups. That does not appear to have included gun rights organizations.
The president contended, “there are a vast majority of responsible gun owners out there who recognize that we can’t have a situation in which somebody with severe psychological problems is able to get the kind of high capacity weapons that this individual in Newtown obtained and gun down our kids.”
There may now be some finger-pointing within the firearms community at gun owners who supported Obama’s re-election by those who repeatedly warned about a second term, and were roundly dismissed. The argument that “He’s not going to do it” has now been replaced by “It’ll never get through Congress.”
These Dogs Don’t Hunt: The Democrats’ War on Guns
Assault on Weapons: The Campaign to Eliminate Your Guns
Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms
National Rifle Association
Second Amendment Foundation