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Schakowsky: Assault Weapons Ban ‘Just the Beginning’

Schakowsky: Assault Weapons Ban ‘Just the Beginning’

by Joel B. Pollak

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the Democratic Party’s leadership in the House of Representatives, suggested to Jason Mattera at a Feb. 13 women’s rights rally that plans for an assault weapons ban and private-sales background checks were only the beginning of a broader gun control agenda extending to handguns as well.

Schakowsky evidently did not recognize Mattera, a conservative video journalist and senior investigative reporter for Talk Radio Network, who infamously confronted Vice President Joe Biden in the Capitol. (Mattera introduced himself to Schakowsky by name but did not indicate that he was filming or that he is conservative.) She spoke to Mattera as if he were a fellow gun control enthusiast–and Mattera played along, eliciting answers about Schakowsky’s enthusiasm for gun control.

“We want everything on the table,” Schakowsky told Mattera. “This is a moment of opportunity. There’s no question about it.”

One poignant exchange was as follows:

Schakowsky: We’re on a roll now, and I think we’ve got to take the–you know, we’re gonna push as hard as we can and as far as we can.

Mattera: So the assault weapons ban is just the beginning?

Schakowsky: Oh absolutely. I mean, I’m against handguns. We have, in Illinois, the Council Against Handgun… something [Violence]. Yeah, I’m a member of that. So, absolutely.

In another exchange, Schakowsky proposed allowances for states and municipalities to ban guns–though such laws have been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court:

Mattera: We’ll never get a handgun ban with the Second Amendment as stated.

Schakowsky: I don’t know. I don’t know that we can’t. And there may be an allowance, once again, for communities–I have communities in my district that prohibited handguns within their borders. The rights of municipalities and states to view that as a sensible way to keep people safe–I don’t think it’s precluded.

When Mattera asked why legislators were not pressing for a handgun ban, given that most murders are committed with handguns, Schakowsky replied: “Because we’re not going to be able to win that. Not now.” She went on to explain why background checks were a useful interim policy, arguing that they would “address any kind of weapon.”

Schakowsky’s remarks about plans for broader gun control are not the first time she has revealed the long-term goal behind short-term policy debates. She has a tendency to do so when speaking to apparently sympathetic audiences. In 2009, she told a crowd that the goal of Obamacare would be to “put the private insurance industry out of business.”

Officially, Democrats–including Schakowsky–hew to the party line as laid down by the president, which pledges support for the Second Amendment and for gun ownership in rural communities where hunting and shooting are viewed as traditional pastimes.

Gun owners fear that the Sandy Hook-inspired gun control measures before Congress–none of which would have stopped the mass shooting at Sandy Hook–are a prelude to broader regulations, including the banning of handguns and the eventual registration and confiscation of firearms, despite earnest assurances by Democrats to the contrary.

The Democratic Party has taken a hard line on guns recently, with President Obama’s strategist, David Axelrod, joining New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in backing gun control enthusiast Robin Kelly over former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, in the recent primary to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois. Kelly has promised to be a “leader” in “banning guns.”
SOURCE

The Vetting – Holder 1995: We Must ‘Brainwash’ People on Guns

The Vetting – Holder 1995: We Must ‘Brainwash’ People on Guns

by Joel B. Pollak

Breitbart.com has uncovered video from 1995 of then-U.S. Attorney Eric Holder announcing a public campaign to “really brainwash people into thinking about guns in a vastly different way.”

Holder was addressing the Woman’s National Democratic Club. In his remarks, broadcast by CSPAN 2, he explained that he intended to use anti-smoking campaigns as his model to “change the hearts and minds of people in Washington, DC” about guns.

“What we need to do is change the way in which people think about guns, especially young people, and make it something that’s not cool, that it’s not acceptable, it’s not hip to carry a gun anymore, in the way in which we changed our attitudes about cigarettes.”

Holder added that he had asked advertising agencies in the nation’s capital to assist by making anti-gun ads rather than commercials “that make me buy things that I don’t really need.” He had also approached local newspapers and television stations, he said, asking them to devote prime space and time, respectively, to his anti-gun campaign.

Local political leaders and celebrities, Holder said, including Mayor Marion Barry and Jesse Jackson, had been asked to help. In addition, he reported, he had asked the local school board to make the anti-gun message a part of “every day, every school, and every level.”

Despite strict gun control efforts, Washington, DC was and remains one of the nation’s most dangerous cities for gun violence, though crime has abated somewhat since the 1990s.

Holder went on to become Deputy Attorney General in the Clinton administration, and currently serves as Attorney General in the Obama Administration.

The video of Holder’s remarks was uncovered by Breitbart.com contributor Charles C. Johnson.

SOURCE

Mystery company buying up U.S. gun manufacturers

Mystery company buying up U.S. gun manufacturers

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Natasha Singer

Lined up in a gun rack beneath mounted deer heads is a Bushmaster Carbon 15, a matte-black semiautomatic rifle that looks as if it belongs to a SWAT team. On another rack rests a Teflon-coated Prairie Panther from DPMS Firearms, a supplier to the U.S. Border Patrol and security agencies in Iraq. On a third is a Remington 750 Woodsmaster, a popular hunting rifle.

The variety of rifles and shotguns on sale here at Cabela’s, the national sporting goods chain, is a testament to America’s enduring gun culture. But, to a surprising degree, it is also a testament to something else: Wall Street deal-making.

In recent years, many top-selling brands – including the 195-year-old Remington Arms, as well as Bushmaster Firearms and DPMS, leading makers of military-style semiautomatics – have quietly passed into the hands of a single private company. It is called the Freedom Group – and it is the most powerful and mysterious force in the U.S. commercial gun industry today.

Never heard of it?

You’re not alone. Even within gun circles, the Freedom Group is something of an enigma. Its rise has been so swift that it has become the subject of wild speculation and grassy-knoll conspiracy theories. In the realm of consumer rifles and shotguns – long guns, in the trade – it is unrivaled in its size and reach. By its own count, the Freedom Group sold 1.2 million long guns and 2.6 billion rounds of ammunition in the 12 months ended March 2010, the most recent year for which figures are publicly available.

Behind this giant is Cerberus Capital Management, the private investment company that first came to widespread attention when it acquired Chrysler in 2007. (Chrysler later had to be rescued by taxpayers). With far less fanfare, Cerberus, through the Freedom Group, has been buying big names in guns and ammo.

From its headquarters in Manhattan, Cerberus has assembled a remarkable arsenal. It began with Bushmaster, which until recently was based here in Maine. Unlike military counterparts like automatic M-16s, rifles like those from Bushmaster don’t spray bullets with one trigger pull. But, with gas-powered mechanisms, semiautomatics can fire rapid follow-up shots as fast as the trigger can be squeezed. They are often called “black guns” because of their color. The police tied a Bushmaster XM15 rifle to shootings in the Washington sniper case in 2002.

After Bushmaster, the Freedom Group moved in on Remington, which traces its history to the days of flintlocks and today is supplying M24 sniper rifles to the government of Afghanistan and making handguns for the first time in decades. The group has also acquired Marlin Firearms, which turned out a special model for Annie Oakley, as well as Dakota Arms, a maker of high-end big-game rifles. It has bought DPMS Firearms, another maker of semiautomatic, military-style rifles, as well as manufacturers of ammunition and tactical clothing.

“We believe our scale and product breadth are unmatched within the industry,” the Freedom Group said in a filing last year with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Some gun enthusiasts have claimed that the power behind the company is actually George Soros, the hedge-fund billionaire and liberal activist. Soros, these people have warned, is buying U.S. gun companies so he can dismantle the industry, Second Amendment be damned.

The chatter grew so loud that the National Rifle Association issued a statement in October denying the rumors.

“NRA has had contact with officials from Cerberus and Freedom Group for some time,” the NRA assured its members. “The owners and investors involved are strong supporters of the Second Amendment and are avid hunters and shooters.”

Soros isn’t behind the Freedom Group, but, ultimately, another financier is: Stephen Feinberg, the chief executive of Cerberus.

Cerberus is part of one of the signature Wall Street businesses of the past decade: private equity. Buyout kings like Feinberg, 51, try to acquire undervalued companies, often with borrowed money, fix them up and either take them public or sell at a profit to someone else.

Before the financial crisis of 2008, scores of well-known U.S. companies, from Chrysler down, passed into the hands of private-equity firms. For the financiers, the rewards were often enormous. But some companies that they acquired later ran into trouble, in part because they were burdened with debt from the takeovers.

Feinberg, a Princeton graduate who began his Wall Street career at Drexel Burnham Lambert, the junk bond powerhouse of Michael Milken fame, got into private equity in 1992. That year, he and William Richter founded Cerberus, which takes its name from the three-headed dog in Greek mythology that guards the gates of Hades.

Today, Feinberg presides over a private empire that rivals some of the mightiest public companies in the land. Cerberus manages more than $20 billion in capital. Together, the companies it owns generate annual revenue of about $40 billion – more than either Amazon or Coca-Cola last year.

Why Cerberus went after gun companies isn’t clear. Many private investment firms shy away from such industries to avoid scaring off big investors like pension funds.

Yet, in many ways, the move is classic Cerberus. Feinberg has a history of investing in companies that other people may not want, but that Cerberus believes it can turn around. When Cerberus embarked on its acquisition spree in guns, it essentially had the field to itself.

“There’s much less competition for buying these companies,”
says Steven N. Kaplan, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and a private equity expert. “They must have decided there is an opportunity to make money by investing in the firearms industry and trying to build a big company.”

Whatever the reason, Cerberus, through the Freedom Group, is now a major player.

It has sold weapons to the governments of Afghanistan, Thailand, Mexico and Malaysia, among others, and obtained new business from the U.S. Army, including a contract worth up to $28.2 million to upgrade the M24 sniper weapon system.

Cerberus brings connections to the table. The longtime chairman of its global investments group is Dan Quayle, the former vice president. The Freedom Group, meantime, has added two retired generals to its board. One is George Joulwan, who retired from the Army after serving as Supreme Allied Commander of Europe. The other is Michael Hagee, formerly commandant of the Marine Corps.

Jessica Kallam, a spokeswoman at the Freedom Group, said executives there declined to comment for this article. Timothy Price, a managing director of Cerberus, also declined to comment.

The old Bushmaster factory in Windham, Maine, doesn’t look like much. With a facade of brick and gray aluminum siding, it squats in an unassuming office park on the Roosevelt Trail.

But Cerberus representatives who arrived here in 2005 clearly saw potential. Inside, several dozen gunsmiths, working by hand, were fitting together 6,000 to 7,000 weapons a month. At the time, Bushmaster was thriving, although it had been stung by bad publicity stemming from the Beltway sniper shootings. (In a 2004 settlement with victims of the shootings and their families, Bull’s Eye Shooter Supply, the store where the gun was acquired, agreed to pay $2 million, and Bushmaster agreed to pay $568,000, but they did not admit liability.)

Richard Dyke, then the principal owner and chairman of Bushmaster, welcomed the visitors from New York. A blunt-spoken Korean War veteran and Republican fundraiser, he had made a fortune himself by buying companies in trouble, including one that made poker chips. In 1976, he bought a bankrupt gun-maker in Bangor, Maine, for $241,000, moved it to Windham and later changed its name to Bushmaster. The company that Dyke bought had patents on semiautomatic weapons designed for the military and police. But he was drawn to the nascent market in military-style firearms for civilians. He saw as his customers precision target shooters, including current and former military personnel, police officers and, well, military wannabes, he says.

A Bushmaster Carbon 15 .223 semiautomatic is about 3 feet long. But, weighing in at just under 6 pounds, it is surprisingly easy to maneuver, even for a novice. It doesn’t have to be recocked after it’s fired: You just squeeze the trigger over and over.

“At 25 meters, if you are a decent shot,”
Dyke says, “you can put it into a bull’s-eye that is the size of a quarter.

The Bushmaster brand began to grow in the 1980s after the company started supplying its semiautomatics to police departments. It won a much larger consumer following in the 1990s, after it landed several small military contracts.

Bushmaster was among the first to sell ordinary people on weapons that look and feel like the ones carried by soldiers. Today many gunmakers have embraced military-style weapons, a major but controversial source of growth for the commercial gun market, says Tom Diaz, a senior policy analyst at the Violence Policy Center, a research group that backs gun control.

“It’s clear that the militarized stuff is the stuff that sells and is defining the industry,”
Diaz says.

Dyke says he’s not sure why Bushmaster caught the eye of Cerberus. Whatever the case, when Cerberus came calling, Dyke, then past 70, was ready to sell. At the time, Bushmaster had $85 million in annual sales and several million dollars in debt, he says. In April 2006, he sold the company to Cerberus for about $76 million, he says, and Cerberus rented the Bushmaster plant here for five years.

The next year, Cerberus formed the Freedom Group.

Now Bushmaster is gone from Maine. Earlier this year, Dyke says, the Freedom Group notified him it was closing Bushmaster’s operation in the state and moving it to a bigger plant owned by Remington, a typical consolidation play for a private investment firm looking to cut costs and increase efficiency. Remington, for its part, announced earlier this year that it was expanding its manufacturing capacity and hiring new employees to make Bushmasters.

Several months ago, Dyke started a new company, Windham Weaponry, at the old Bushmaster site and has rehired most of his former employees. But he’s not planning to go head-to-head with the Freedom Group.

“It’s the big gorilla in the room,
” he says, adding: “We don’t have to do $100 million. We’d have hopes of doing $20 million.”

Remington has been producing guns since 1816, when, according to lore, a young man named Eliphalet Remington made a flintlock rifle in his father’s forge in Ilion Gulch, in upstate New York. By the 1870s, the brand was so popular that the company diversified into typewriters. In 2007, the Freedom Group swooped in and bought Remington for $370 million, including $252 million in assumed debt. In one stroke, the Freedom Group gained one of the most famous names in U.S. firearms, the largest domestic maker of shotguns and rifles and a major manufacturer of ammunition.

“That caused a lot of stir in the industry,” says Dean J. Lockwood, a weapons systems analyst at Forecast International, a market research firm.

Next, the Freedom Group in rapid succession went after other firearms companies: DPMS; Marlin Firearms, a classic maker that came with two niche shotgun brands, Harrington & Richardson and L.C. Smith; and Dakota Arms. The Freedom Group also bought S&K industries, which supplies wood and laminate for gun stocks, as well as the Advanced Armament Corp., which makes silencers. It acquired Barnes Bullets, which makes copper-jacketed bullets popular with precision shooters and police departments.

The more the company diversifies its portfolio, analysts say, the more it has to offer to firearms distributors and leading retailers like Wal-Mart and Cabela’s.

Read more: SOURCE

Disarmed: Veterans declared “Mentally Defective” denied Second Amendment Rights

100,000 Veterans Declared ‘Mentally Defective,” Denied Second Amendment Rights


They go off to war, fight for our country, for each other, and for the lives of foreigners they do not know. They kill the tyrants and despots who promote and sponsor terrorism. Our veterans are selfless, brave and they represent the best of a generation. So, why does the U.S. government arbitrarily strip many of them of their Second Amendment rights?

Well, one could argue that it stems from the way in which Washington views our veterans.

In 2009, U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano released a memo that said, “The return of military veterans facing significant challenges reintegrating into their communities could lead to the potential emergence of terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks.”

Napolitano later apologized for the memo, but actions speak louder than words. And in reviewing the policy the government takes toward those veterans who have been assigned a fiduciary trustee, it becomes evident that there exists, at the very least, a tinge of discriminatory behavior on behalf of Washington.

Currently any U.S. military veteran assigned a fiduciary trustee to act on his/her behalf is automatically declared “mentally defective” and is reported to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the database Federal Firearms Licensees use to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms and/or explosives. Anyone deemed “mentally defective” in the system will be ineligible to make a purchase.

Where the confusion lies with respect to this particular policy is that the VA review process for determining whether or not a veteran requires a fiduciary trustee is based upon an evaluation of a veteran’s ability to manage his/her personal finances, veteran’s benefits, disability compensation, pensions, etc. At no point during the fiduciary review process does the VA examiner make a judgment on whether the veteran is a danger to himself/herself and/or others.

So, in short, the policy says: if a veteran needs assistance managing his/her finances, he/she cannot own a gun. Is it fair to make this assumption?

Sen. Burr (R-NC) and Sen. Webb (D-VA) don’t think so. Together they have introduced the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act, which would “clarify the conditions under which certain persons may be treated as adjudicated mentally incompetent for certain purposes.” In other words, it would require a judicial authority to determine whether veterans pose a threat to themselves or others before they can be added to the NCIS database.

“As a matter of fairness, a veteran should be permitted to purchase a firearm under the same conditions as every other American,” said Sen. Webb. “This bipartisan bill ensures consistent guidelines are used for reporting citizens to the FBI, and that no veteran is needlessly stripped of their Second Amendment rights.”

Sen. Burr added, “Taking away a Constitutional right is a serious action, and veterans should be afforded the same due process under the law as all other American citizens. This legislation would protect the rights of veterans and their families by ensuring that only a proper judicial authority is able to determine who is referred to NICS. Our veterans took an oath to uphold the Constitution and they deserve to enjoy the rights they fought so hard to protect.”

According to Sen. Burr, more than 100,000 veterans have been referred to the NICS as a result of the VA’s fiduciary trustee evaluation process. As a result, they’ve all been stripped of the right to keep and bear arms.

Again, is this fair? Or is it discriminatory/prejudicial?

Well, as it turns out, there are approximately 7.6 million Social Security beneficiaries who have been assigned fiduciary trustees. However, the Social Security Administration has not turned one name over to the NICS.

It would appear that not everyone the government assigns a fiduciary trustee is subsequently denied the right to keep and bear arms.

Hopefully, Congress recognizes this double standard and gives serious consideration to the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act

SOURCE

The Warning Is Clear

Michelle Obama’s warning to gun owners

By Chris Cox

Nearly three years into President Obama’s first term in office, Michelle Obama finally said something with which I can agree.

At a recent fundraiser for President Obama’s re-election campaign in Providence, Rhode Island, the first lady told her audience:

“We stand at a fundamental crossroads for our country. You’re here because you know that in just 13 months, we’re going to make a choice that will impact our lives for decades to come … let’s not forget what it meant when my husband appointed those two brilliant Supreme Court justices … let’s not forget the impact that their decisions will have on our lives for decades to come.”

This was music to the ears of the small, affluent crowd of admirers who cheered and applauded. But to gun owners, Michelle Obama’s remarks should sound like a warning bell, alerting us to the danger ahead should Barack Obama win re-election and get the opportunity to alter the current make-up of the Supreme Court.

When Americans flock to the polls in 13 months, we will not simply decide which direction our country should take over the next four years. Rather, we will decide whether or not our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms will survive over the next several decades.

Currently, the Second Amendment clings to a 5-4 pro-freedom majority on the Supreme Court. Just one vote is all that stands between the America our Founding Fathers established and a radically different America that Barack Obama and his supporters envision.

If you want to read something scary, take another look at the minority opinions in the Supreme Court’s landmark Heller and McDonald decisions that struck down Washington, D.C.’s and Chicago’s unconstitutional gun bans. In the Heller dissent, four justices concluded that the Second Amendment does not guarantee an individual right to own a firearm, nor does it protect our right to defend ourselves, our families, or our property. In McDonald, the same four justices argued that the 5-4 Heller decision should be reversed.

If these four justices had just one more vote on their side, their opinion — that the Second Amendment should not exist in today’s modern society — would be the law of the land today. And assuredly, the anti-gun activist wing of the court knows how close they are to gaining the upper hand. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg told a Harvard Club audience in 2009, she looks forward to the day when a “future, wiser court” overturns 5-4 decisions like Heller.

Praying for the health of five justices is not a sound legal strategy for ensuring that our Second Amendment freedoms survive the relentless legal assault that gun-ban groups are waging in courtrooms across America. We need a president who will nominate sound, originalist nominees to the high court — nominees who will preserve the freedoms our Founding Fathers enshrined in our Constitution.

If President Obama gets the opportunity to tilt the balance of the Supreme Court in his favor, we’re unlikely to see another pro-gun victory at the Court in our lifetime. Even worse, the 5-4 majorities in Heller and McDonald will be in serious jeopardy of being reversed, effectively eliminating the Second Amendment.

NRA members, gun owners and all freedom-loving Americans should heed Michelle Obama’s warning. We must spend the next 13 months working to make sure her husband doesn’t get four more years to destroy American freedom for generations to come.

Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and serves as the organization’s chief lobbyist.

Read more:SOURCE

Florida Stands on the side of the Second Amendment

Florida Forces Towns to Pull Local Laws Limiting Guns
By LIZETTE ALVAREZ

MIAMI — The signs — “No Guns Allowed” — are being stripped from many Florida government buildings, libraries and airports. And local ordinances that bar people from shooting weapons in their yards, firing up into the air (think New Year’s Eve) or taking guns into parks are coming off the books.

The state has spoken, again, on the matter of guns, and this time it does not want to be ignored: since 1987, local governments in Florida have been banned from creating and enforcing their own gun ordinances. Few cities and counties paid attention, though, believing that places like Miami might need to be more restrictive than others, like rural Apalachicola, for example.

But this year the Legislature passed a new law that imposes fines on counties and municipalities that do not do away with and stop enforcing their own firearms and ammunition ordinances by Oct. 1. Mayors and council and commission members will risk a $5,000 fine and removal from office if they “knowingly and willfully violate” the law. Towns that enforce their ordinances risk a $100,000 fine.

To comply with the law, cities and counties are poring over their gun ordinances, repealing laws and removing gun-related signs. In Palm Beach County, that means removing ordinances that bar people from taking guns into county government buildings and local parks and from firing guns in some of its most urban areas. In Groveland, that means they can now fire their guns into the air to celebrate. And in Lake County, firearms will soon be allowed in libraries.

“Now you can have a shooting gallery in your backyard,
” said Shelley Vana, a Palm Beach County commissioner. “We are really urban areas here. I come from a rural area in Pennsylvania. I understand that guns are appropriate in a lot of places with no problems. But in an urban area, it’s different.”

State lawmakers who supported the bill, which was backed by the National Rifle Association, said local governments were overreacting, particularly since the original law that pre-empted local gun ordinances was passed in 1987.

“The notion that a city ordinance stops violence is patently absurd,
” said State Representative Matt Gaetz, a Fort Walton Beach Republican who sponsored the bill. “People lawfully carrying weapons with permits are rarely part of the problem.”

The law seeks to protect licensed gun owners who travel from county to county and may not be familiar with the patchwork of rules that dictate where they can carry and shoot a gun.

Florida gun laws are broader than local ordinances. They restrict guns, for example, at legislative and city council meetings but not inside the buildings themselves. They permit target shooting under “safe” conditions and in “safe” places, and they make it illegal to display a firearm in a rude or threatening manner, unless it is in self-defense. Floridians also cannot knowingly fire a gun in a public place, in an occupied building or on a paved street. But those who support stronger laws said words like “knowingly” and “safe” often make enforcement difficult.

Local gun ordinances first galvanized gun rights advocates in 2000 when South Miami passed an ordinance that required trigger locks for guns while stored. The National Rifle Association took the town to court, and the town lost. But counties and cities across Florida continued to vote on or enforce their own gun ordinances.

“The bill provides a remedy, if somebody chooses to be irrationally stubborn,”
Mr. Gaetz said.

Some cities and counties, though, say they will lobby for a change so they can have more flexibility. Officials say that none of their ordinances violate the Second Amendment; they just give them added power to tamp down crime.

“It’s a disregard for public safety,”
said Shirley Gibson, the mayor of Miami Gardens, where signs prohibiting guns in parks were taken down. “It’s not a good message to send.”

Kraig Conn, the legislative counsel for the Florida League of Cities, said fining individual mayors and council members for their legislative actions sets a “horrible precedent.” Lawmakers hold immunity that protects them from liability in civil lawsuits for duties they perform. “It pierces legislative immunity,” he said. “This is part of our common law system.”

It also runs counter to the Republican principle that local control is best.

In a state of 18 million people, with rural and urban areas adjacent to one another, “the State Legislature doesn’t know where it makes sense to restrict guns,” Mr. Conn said.

SOURCE

57 Senators Sign Letter To Protect Second Amendment Rights From UN

Senator Hatch recently released the following statement on this issue.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) joined his colleague Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) and 43 other Senators in expressing grave concern about the dangers posed to Second Amendment rights by the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty. In a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, the 45 senators said they would oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding American gun owners. This is enough to block the treaty from Senate passage, as treaties submitted to the U.S. Senate require approval of two-thirds of Senators present to be ratified.

“Our Second Amendment is non-negotiable,
” said Hatch. “We don’t need a bunch of bureaucrats at the United Nations dictating our liberties and freedoms. This Treaty should not be ratified and I will fight it tooth and nail.”

In the letter, the senators wrote: “As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your Administration to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership. These freedoms are not negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer or purchase firearms, ammunition and related items.”

“As we have for the past 15 years, the NRA will fight to stop a United Nations Arms Trade Treaty that infringes on the Constitutional rights of American gun owners,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA Institute for Legislative Action. “This letter sends a clear message to the international bureaucrats who want to eliminate our fundamental, individual right to keep and bear arms. Clearly, a U.N. Arms Trade Treaty that includes civilian arms within its scope is not supported by the American people or their elected U.S. Senators. Sen. Moran is a true champion of our freedom. We are grateful for his leadership and his tenacious efforts on this issue, as well as the 44 other senators who agree with the NRA’s refusal to compromise on our constitutional freedoms.”


In October of 2009 at the U.N. General Assembly, the Obama Administration reversed the previous Administration’s position and voted for the U.S. to participate in negotiating the Arms Trade Treaty, purportedly to establish “common international standards for the import, export, and transfer of conventional arms.” Preparatory committee meetings are now underway in anticipation of a conference in 2012 to finalize the treaty. A treaty draft has not yet been produced.

The full text of the letter the Senators have signed reads:

July 22, 2011

President Barack Obama
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20500

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
2201 C St., NW
Washington, D.C. 20520

Dear President Obama and Secretary Clinton:

As defenders of the right of Americans to keep and bear arms, we write to express our grave concern about the dangers posed by the United Nations’ Arms Trade Treaty. Our country’s sovereignty and the constitutional protection of these individual freedoms must not be infringed.

In October of 2009 at the U.N. General Assembly, your administration voted for the U.S. to participate in negotiating this treaty. Preparatory committee meetings are now underway in anticipation of a conference in 2012 to finalize the treaty. Based on the process to date, we are concerned that the Arms Trade Treaty poses dangers to rights protected under the Second Amendment for the following reasons.

First, while the 2009 resolution on the treaty acknowledged the existence of “national constitutional protections on private ownership,” it placed the existence of these protections in the context of “the right of States to regulate internal transfers of arms and national ownership,” implying that constitutional protections must be interpreted in the context of the broader power of the state to regulate. We are concerned both by the implications of the 2009 resolution and by the hostility to private firearms ownership manifested by similar resolutions in previous years—such as the 2008 resolution, which called for the “highest possible standards” of control.

Second, your Administration agreed to participate in the negotiation only if it “operates under the rule of consensus decision-making.” Given that the 2008 resolution on the treaty was adopted almost unanimously—with only the U.S. and Zimbabwe in opposition—it seems clear that there is a near-consensus on the requirement for the “highest possible standards,” which will inevitably put severe pressure on the United States to compromise on important issues.

Third, U.N. member states regularly argue that no treaty controlling the transfer of arms internationally can be effective without controls on transfers inside member states. Any treaty resulting from the Arms Trade Treaty process that seeks in any way to regulate the domestic manufacture, assembly, possession, transfer, or purchase of firearms, ammunition, and related items would be completely unacceptable to us.

Fourth, reports from the 2010 Preparatory Meeting make it clear that many U.N. member states aim to craft an extremely broad treaty. A declaration by Mexico and other Central and South American countries, for example, called for the treaty to cover “All types of conventional weapons (regardless of their purpose), including small arms and light weapons, ammunition, components, parts, technology and related materials.” Such a broad treaty would be completely unenforceable, and would pose dangers to all U.S. businesses and individuals involved in any aspect of the firearms industry. At the 2010 Meeting, the U.S. representative twice expressed frustration with the wide-ranging and unrealistic scope of the projected treaty. We are concerned that these cautions will not be heeded, and that the Senate will eventually be called upon to consider a treaty that is so broad it cannot effectively be subject to our advice and consent.

Fifth, and finally, the underlying philosophy of the Arms Trade Treaty is that transfers to and from governments are presumptively legal, while transfers to non-state actors (such as terrorists and criminals) are, at best, problematic. We agree that sales and transfers to criminals and terrorists are unacceptable, but we will oppose any treaty that places the burden of controlling crime and terrorism on law-abiding Americans, instead of where it belongs: on the culpable member states of the United Nations who have failed to take the necessary steps to block trafficking that is already illegal under existing laws and agreements.

As the treaty process continues, we strongly encourage your Administration to uphold our country’s constitutional protections of civilian firearms ownership. These freedoms are not negotiable, and we will oppose ratification of an Arms Trade Treaty presented to the Senate that in any way restricts the rights of law-abiding U.S. citizens to manufacture, assemble, possess, transfer or purchase firearms, ammunition, and related items.

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