by Dave Workman
Banning semiautomatic rifles and limiting handgun magazines to ten rounds will only penalize and even endanger law-abiding citizens, especially women.
That was the message delivered to the Senate Judiciary Committee by gun rights advocates on a panel that testified for four hours. The panel included National Rifle Association Executive Vice president Wayne LaPierre, Second Amendment scholar and attorney David Kopel and Gayle Trotter, a senior fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum.
It was Trotter who may have stunned the panel by insisting that “Guns make women safer.” She specifically included semi-automatic rifles in the equation, and she opposed banning such firearms.
“In a violent confrontation,” she stated, “guns reverse the balance of power. An armed woman does not need superior strength.”
Under questioning from Ranking Republican Sen. Charles Grassley, Trotter said an “assault weapon in the hands of a woman defending her baby becomes a defense weapon.” She defended the ability of women to handle a semi-automatic rifle because of their light weight and accuracy.
She further posited that concealed carry laws also make women safer and change the “balance of power” between a female and a larger male attacker or attackers. She said that in areas with liberal concealed carry statutes, “women are less likely to be raped.”
Trotter further told the committee that unarmed women do benefit from having good concealed carry laws.
Kopel, research director at the Independence Institute in Golden, Colo. told the panel that the ban on so-called “assault weapons” from 1994 through 2004 was a failure. He referred to a Justice Department study conducted under then-Attorney General Janet Reno that concluded the law “had done nothing.”
He contended that the firearms which Sen. Dianne Feinstein wants to ban are protected by the Supreme Court ruling in the Heller case because they are in common use by both police and private citizens, with standard magazine capacities of 11 to 15 rounds.
Kopel also emphasized that a “universal background check” would not be enforceable without “universal registration,” and he pointed to Canada’s foray into that arena. The registration law was repealed a few years ago because it was a fiasco, Kopel recalled. However, he did suggest that there can be some gun control laws if they do not infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens.
“Gun rights and gun control don’t have to be culture war enemies,” he stated.
Lack of prosecutions
LaPierre slammed the Obama administration for lack of prosecutions of felons who attempt to buy guns but don’t pass a national instant check, and for felons caught in possession of firearms.
He noted that the NRA has a “proud history” of teaching firearms safety, with some 80,000 certified firearms instructors dealing with private citizens and civilian law enforcement.
But he also made a pitch for the NRA’s recently-announced SHIELD program for school security, noting that about one-third of public schools now have armed security “because it works.”
In addition to criticizing the administration for a reduction in firearms prosecutions, LaPierre also told the senate panel that the nation’s mental health system is broken. He said privacy laws need to be adjusted to allow the release of more information to the NICS system regarding dangerous mental health cases.
“Privacy laws needlessly prevent mental health records from being put in the (NICS) system,” he stated.
LaPierre said law-abiding gun owners “will not accept the blame for the acts of violent criminals.” He contended that enforcement of existing laws will be a major step in curbing violent crime, recalling that Project Exile in Richmond, Va. put criminals behind bars and the result was a reduction in the crime rate there.
He maintained that the proposals currently before Congress “would only serve to burden the law-abiding” and that they have failed in the past and will fail again.
During the question-and-answer period, he told Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) that he does not believe background checks on private sales at gun shows will have a significant impact on crime because statistically, less than two percent of guns used by criminals come from gun shows.
“Let’s be honest,” he said. “Background checks will never be universal because criminals will not go through them.”