June 2013

Down Range: June 2013

Gun Supporters ‘Willfully Lied’

President Obama recently blamed the defeat of Senate gun-control proposals on lies spread by the National Rifle Association, calling it “a pretty shameful day for Washington. The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill,” Obama said in the White House Rose Garden about 90 minutes after the vote. In April, senators voted 54-46 to expand background checks of gun purchases, six votes shy of the 60 votes needed for passage of the amendment under the Senate’s debate rules.

“They claimed that it would create some sort of big-brother gun registry, even though it did the opposite,” Obama said. “This pattern of spreading untruths … served a purpose. A minority in the U.S. Senate decided it wasn’t worth it. They blocked common-sense gun reforms, even while these [Newtown] families looked on from the Senate gallery. It’s not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans just voted against that idea.”

I’m a life member of the NRA, and I’m not happy about the president saying a group I support “willfully lied” about gun legislation. I read David Kopel’s thorough analysis of the bills and agreed with him that there were loopholes big enough for this administration to do anything they wanted to about guns once the gate was open. The NRA’s attacks on the bills called into question whether the measures would fix anything related to recent mass killings (they wouldn’t), and whether flaws in the legislation might allow gun registries to be formed by uncovered agencies (a distinct possibility).

So, whom do I believe: An administration who sent Justice Department lawyers to lie under oath to Congress about Fast & Furious? A president who repeatedly mischaracterized the probable amount of gun sales that are conducted without NICS checks? An administration that prosecuted a miniscule amount of people who lied on BATFE Form 4473s? (Lying on this form is a felony and can be punished by fines and up to five years in prison.) The Washington Post gave Obama three Pinocchios for some of his statements during the recent gun-control debate. I think the Post showed too much restraint.

AG Holder Says Kansas Law Is Unconstitutional: A recently enacted law in Kansas intended to block enforcement of federal gun regulations is unconstitutional, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder wrote in a letter to Kansas Governor Sam Brownback in late April.

The Kansas law exempts guns or ammunition from any federal regulation as long they are kept in Kansas. In his April 26 letter, Holder said, a state “may not criminalize the exercise of federal responsibilities” and that all federal laws remain in effect.

Fortunately, Holder’s opinion isn’t law, and all he can do is threaten, and perhaps take Kansas to court. If I were Brownback, I would have written back, “Dear Eric: Get back to me after you tend to the marijuana legalization laws in Colorado and Washington. — Sam.”