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Of course Obama lied about supporting an assault weapons ban in 2008

Because he lies about everything. Anyhow, just for the record, from CQ in mail:

Obama was a gun control advocate as a state legislator and an Illinois senator. As a candidate four years ago he called for reinstating the assault weapons ban, and after Giffords was almost gunned down last year he promised to propose legislation that would “keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.” But he has never fulfilled that promise, and yesterday the White House made abundantly clear that no such proposal was coming.


It's like they want us to live in fear of being randomly shot by some psychopath. What is this Afghanistan? Yemen?

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Submitted by hipparchia on


jumpjet's picture
Submitted by jumpjet on

cosmetic at best. I can't be sure of the biases in this article, but they sum up the objections fairly well. Firearms can skirt the ban simply by looking different than those weapons banned by the old act.

What's needed is much more stringent regulation of gun licenses and gun purchases as a whole, along with perhaps a federally standardized security test in order to obtain a gun license. You're required to pass a test to drive a car; at minimum you should pass a test and take a class to own a gun.

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

I oppose the assault weapon ban because I think that lethal weapons do have a place in American society, and not only within the hands of law enforcement and the professional military. I could make a variety of legal arguments, and invoke the Constitution, case law and statutory law. However, in this comment, I will restrict myself to public policy arguments.

The debate about guns is actually a debate about the nature of society, and what kind of society people want to have. Some people actually want to wholly deny the majority of individuals any agency with respect to violence. What makes me say that? Read on.

In a a lot of the discussions, people will say that the firearms used by the Aurora shooters are "only used for killing people." That's supposed to end the argument. Setting aside that the statement is factually untrue, let's unpack the meanings behind that statement.

The unstated assumption is that average citizens have no business owning efficient tools for delivering violence. Please spare me the maximalist discussions of "so you want people to own nuclear weapons?" For the purposes of this discussion, we're discussing human-portable small arms-- pistols, rifles, etc.

Are people arguing that we should have no more police, and no more military? In most cases, I'd guess no-- liberals are generally not the people asking to eliminate those institutions. That would be the anti-statist anarchists. What they really mean is that someone else is going to wield violence. Someone other than them. My experience is that people, especially liberal professional journalists often shy away from this discussion, but I think it's one worth having.

Under the above mentioned values system, who then, wields violence? Why, there will be a specially anointed group of people who wield violence on behalf of the populace. Who is going to control these institutions? In theory these institutions will be answerable to the populace via democratically elected officials. However, liberals are the same people, generally, that believe that the surveillance state is growing at unacceptable rates. These are the same people who are concerned with police brutality, and the ever militarized war on drugs. And these are the same people who are concerned about the seemingly unchecked growth of the military-industrial complex, and the explosion of private military contractors.

I believe that it is impossible for an unarmed populace that shirks from discussing violence and when it is justified to successfully govern those who use violence as their language. As the Romans said, who will guard the guardians? Will the guardians simply say "oh, you wrote a newspaper editorial, so I guess I'd better do what you say." That's ridiculous-- and has it worked so far? No. Or I wouldn't look at every day and see people justifiably agitated by the creeping surveillance state.

The answer is, that all of us must guard the guardians. I would argue that the increasing separation of the professional armed services from the majority of the citizenry threatens the long term viability of the Republic. Standing armies, we know from history, have a nasty habit of devouring the civilian governments that attempt to control them. It's pretty simple-- when only one group in society has the tools and training to do violence, they will end up in control. This was the fate of the Roman Republic, and it was for this reason that the early founders of the United States were so concerned with standing armies to begin with.

As leftists, this is actually an important question for us to grapple with. We are often challenged , with good reason, to ask what kind of society do we want? I think that if we want to survive as a democratic republic, then we will have to drastically downscale the size of the professional security services and thereby reduce their power. The USSR used to call these the "power ministries," for good reason. That we will also have to reduce or eliminate the majority of our overseas commitments goes without saying. Domestically, part of turning back the militarization of police can come from ending the drug war. But part of it also must come via developing violence controlling institutions that demand the participation of ordinary citizens from all economic/cultural levels of our nation. It is my opinion that the mainstream left in the United States has completely abdicated any discussion of violence and who wields it, other than to either 1) opt out of personal participation in said institutions 2) just say that violence is bad. That's not a political program, unless it's a political program that plans on eliminating violence completely from society, and that's completely unrealistic.

The hardcore theocratic Christian right has made it a policy for decades to target the security services, and they have had much success. All one has to do is look at the work of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, and it is apparent how far the influence goes. And where is the left? Mostly absent. A widespread policy of public participation would go far to dilute the influence of the theocratic right. Does anyone actually think that allowing one organized religious/political outlook to dominate the security services is a good idea?

Violence, and who wields it is far too important to be left to a professional cadre of people-- it is something in which all able bodied adults must participate, within a transparent institutional structure.

Does this mean ordinary people will have access to deadly weapons? Yes. Just like they have access to powerful computers and communications devices. Does this mean that once in a while someone will flip out and shoot people? Yes. Just like having access to modern communications and freedom of movement means that it is possible for a group of malcontents to stage a mass attack and kill thousands of people. Yesterday it was an airliner, perhaps tomorrow, an LNG tanker. Could we dramatically reduce the risk of these plots if we did as the Chinese did-- employ tens of thousands of internet police to do real time monitoring of all internet communications? Sure. And is that a society we want to live in? My answer is no.

What about you?

Submitted by Randall Kohn on

The Secret History of Guns

The Ku Klux Klan, Ronald Reagan, and, for most of its history, the NRA all worked to control guns. The Founding Fathers? They required gun ownership—and regulated it. And no group has more fiercely advocated the right to bear loaded weapons in public than the Black Panthers—the true pioneers of the modern pro-gun movement. In the battle over gun rights in America, both sides have distorted history and the law, and there’s no resolution in sight.

By Adam Winkler

The eighth-grade students gathering on the west lawn of the state capitol in Sacramento were planning to lunch on fried chicken with California’s new governor, Ronald Reagan, and then tour the granite building constructed a century earlier to resemble the nation’s Capitol. But the festivities were interrupted by the arrival of 30 young black men and women carrying .357 Magnums, 12-gauge shotguns, and .45-caliber pistols.

The 24 men and six women climbed the capitol steps, and one man, Bobby Seale, began to read from a prepared statement. “The American people in general and the black people in particular,” he announced, must

take careful note of the racist California legislature aimed at keeping the black people disarmed and powerless Black people have begged, prayed, petitioned, demonstrated, and everything else to get the racist power structure of America to right the wrongs which have historically been perpetuated against black people The time has come for black people to arm themselves against this terror before it is too late.

The political spectrum has shifted, hasn't it?

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

Firearms laws are just another example of a freedom that is only available in a society that is generally run with the consent of the governed.

What the Panthers exposed was that many black people in the US were not happy with their government or the treatment they received from society. They expressed that strongly, and exercised their rights under the law of the day. Then the state government elected officials decided to change the laws. Freedoms such as firearms ownership and availability cannot exist when one group is oppressed.

The situation today with social media and communications technology is similar, and thus, the increased monitoring.

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

I'm advocating for a Swiss-type militia with universal participation, to supplant the existing standing armed forces of the United States.

I am NOT advocating that people replicate the Black Panther's methods of operation.

NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

Assault weapons are for assaulting.

The United States is the country with the highest rate of civilian gun ownership in the world. (The second highest is Yemen, where the rate is nevertheless only half that of the U.S.) No civilian population is more powerfully armed. ....

The firearms used by a well-regulated militia, at the time the Second Amendment was written, were mostly long arms that, like a smaller stockpile of pistols, could discharge only once before they had to be reloaded. In size, speed, efficiency, capacity, and sleekness, the difference between an eighteenth-century musket and the gun that George Zimmerman was carrying is roughly the difference between the first laptop computer—which, not counting the external modem and the battery pack, weighed twenty-four pounds—and an iPhone.

wuming's picture
Submitted by wuming on

And suffice to say, taking semi-auto rifles out of civilian hands isn't going to stop a repeat of Bosnia, or the Spanish Civil War for that matter. Actually, what it does is guarantee that, should things come to that, the organized left will end up dead. Some people like that because it appeals to their sense of moral probity.

But I don't.