By Dave Workman
The White House has confirmed that President Barack Obama “strongly supports” renewal of the ban on so-called “assault weapons” at the same time that two leading national gun rights organizations have called for a national commission on violence.
This comes in the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy in Newtown, CT, which ironically is the headquarters community of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
The Second Amendment Foundation and Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, in a joint press release, called for the creation of a national commission on violence. While the groups acknowledged that that a national dialogue on violence has already begun following the school shooting, a national commission would be “more able to address the complexity of this dilemma.”
The National Rifle Association, which had been silent until four days after the shooting, announced it would hold a press conference on Dec. 21 in the Washington, D.C. area. The NRA announcement noted, “out of respect for the families, and as a matter of common decency, we have given time for mourning, prayer and a full investigation of the facts before commenting.”
“If we don’t identify and get at the root causes of violence,” said CCRKBA Chairman Alan M. Gottlieb of Bellevue, Washington, “it won’t matter how many guns you ban, you will still have violence. There were no guns around when Cain slew Abel, and throughout recorded history, mankind has engaged in considerable violence. Only in the past two centuries have firearms played a historic significance.”
According to Politico and other news outlets, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters that the president “is actively supportive of…Sen. (Dianne) Feinstein’s stated intent tok revive a piece of legislation that would reinstate the assault weapons ban.”
The Dec. 14 massacre left 20 children and six members of the school staff dead, along with the mother of gunman Adam Lanza, who apparently took his own life when he saw police cars responding to the scene. The killer was reportedly armed with a Bushmaster semiautomatic rifle, a Glock 10mm and Sig Sauer 9mm, and had left a shotgun in his car.
Lanza apparently shot his way into the school, which had recently updated its security measures. Principal Dawn Hochsprung and school psychologist Mary Sherlach apparently rushed the gunman as he entered the school, in an effort to stop him and protect the children. They were both killed. Teacher Victoria Soto, 27, was murdered after reportedly telling the gunman that students in her class were all in the gymnasium, when she had actually hidden them.
Almost immediately after the shooting, and even before police had begun processing the crime scene, anti-gunners including New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Feinstein were rushing to exploit the tragedy and press for tighter gun laws, including a renewal of the semi-auto ban.
In Washington State, local politicians in Seattle added their anti-gun agendas to the mix, calling for an end to state preemption and shall-issue concealed pistol licenses, and proposing an initiative to push other gun control items.
SAF President Joseph Tartaro, headquartered in Buffalo, NY noted that “Connecticut already has laws regulating firearms and even modern semi-automatic rifles. They did not prevent what happened in Newtown, any more than Norway’s laws, or Germany’s or Russia’s prevented some of the recent mass murders in those countries.
“If the public policy debate which is sure to follow,” he added, “focuses solely on gun law solutions and ignores all the other key questions, we will have done a disservice to the memories of all the victims of such madness in Connecticut, in Colorado, in Oregon, or anywhere else.”
Gottlieb told TGM that any serious discussion must include all sides of the gun rights issue and also look far beyond the usual knee-jerk responses to a high-profile shooting, because there is much more at work than just someone’s misuse of a gun.
Any meaningful discussion on violence,” he said, “would need to include mental health, violent video games, television shows and films, media malpractice that sensationalizes violence and the dangerously false sense of security created by so-called ‘gun-free zones’.”
Gottlieb zeroed in on gun-free zones in the hours after the school shooting, in reaction to Bloomberg’s call for a renewed ban on semi-auto rifles and other gun control measures. He issued a statement to the press reminding people that virtually all of these types of mass shootings have occurred in places where possession of firearms has been prohibited, either by law or by the owners or private property including shopping malls and theaters.
“How many more tragedies does it take before we do something,” he wondered. “How many more children have to die before this country realizes that No-Gun Zones create perfect locations for violence? You cannot stop criminals and mad men with laws, you can only stop violence with the fear of armed victims.”
He had quick company with law Prof. Joseph E. Olson of Minnesota, and a veteran firearms rights activist.
“It is time to dismiss the fiction of ‘gun-free schools,” Olson said. “These schools aren’t gun-free; they’re free-fire zones for criminals.”
In the wake of the shooting, ironically gun sales have spiked dramatically, with increasing numbers of people buying AR-15 style rifles out of concern that legislation may make it impossible or difficult to buy them.
In addition to a ban on semi-autos, Carney told reporters that the president might support other measures, including legislation that “addresses the problem of the so-called ‘gun show loophole’,” and bans on high capacity magazines.
Such announcements are sure to drive semi-auto sales even higher.
Gottlieb said the commission on violence is a good venue for all sides to weigh in. He also noted that gun owners should not be expected to bear the brunt of reaction to the Sandy Hook tragedy.
“Gun owners are like anyone else,” he said. “We have families, we have children and grandchildren. We want to keep them safe. We walk the same streets as any other citizen, and many gun owners have decided to protect themselves and their families. Our rights as gun owners should not be sacrificed in the interest of providing the illusion that ‘something’ is being done.”