A View of Legislation

Again, drawing from Tam’s post on last night’s third rail licking by President Obama, I want to highlight a random comment that I think is illustrative:

Lets face facts on the actual possibility of a re-introduced AWB.

1. It will either have a sunset, or be overturned. In the current political climate EVERYONE has bigger fish to fry and no matter what you do you cannot regulate crazy.

2. As callous or shocking as this may sound, an AWB would be nothing short of lucrative for pretty much every member here.

What makes the poster here think that, once the legislative sausage grinder starts to turn, that surely it would have a sunset, or be overturned? Why did the original AWB have a sunset in it? Because ban proponents had to include it to win votes. We were damned lucky we got that sunset. It was a product of the unique circumstances in place when the ban was considered, and there’s no guarantee a new ban would have one. None of the state level bans have included sunsets (Massachusetts’s ban was always permanent). None have been repealed. Unfortunately, statements like this express a grave naivety about how the legislative process works.

If you’re a gun lobbyist, and you’re fighting an assault weapons ban and losing, you may be able to use wavering legislators to help make a bill less bad. But the exact nature of how that works out is very much going to be dependent on circumstances and individual legislators. What would a new assault weapons ban look like? We honestly don’t know. The best course of action is not to find out.

5 thoughts on “A View of Legislation”

  1. I found Romney’s artful dodge of the AWB question last night very troubling. He was asked directly if he would support a reinstatement if the bipartisan votes were there and instead answered with boiler-plate about his great bipartisan record in Massachusetts. He also missed the opportunity to correct the moderator’s insinuation that assault weapons are used frequently in mass killings, when in fact they rarely are. Facing facts, I think it’s pretty clear Romney doesn’t know beans about guns and probably couldn’t tell you what an assault weapon is defined at or what makes one type of weapon different from another (to be fair, neither could Obama [see his “Ak-47” statement in Denver from 2008.]) I doubt either candidate even knows the difference between full- and semi-auto fire.

    Romney is essentially getting a free pass from the right on most issues now as he Etch-a-sketches his way to the middle in trawling for votes. That’s politics, I get it. But what does Romney really believe? That’s something I simply don’t know, given the countless times he has reversed himself on issues or spoken off the cuff only to be corrected by a campaign statement later. He reminds me of a certain supervisor I once had from whom we soon learned to get everything in writing in order to avoid getting blamed for not following directives. I’m not impressed.

      1. And in the post-2000 national political environment, especially for a Republican, that means not being anti-gun. Rhetorical fudging in a debate where the objective is to try to capture or otherwise not turn off the squishy “independents” is not too worrisome, and it of course confirmed what we already knew: like 90+% of the national political scene, Romney indeed doesn’t know beans about the issue. That’s why we e.g. have Tom Coburn in the Senate (a guy who cares so much about this issue that he was involved/lead??? investigations into the wimpy (with service ammo) M4). Not to mention Ryan, who’s reported to be a good shot with an “M4” (and has feral hogs who need shooting :-).

        I’m sure he doesn’t have any strong beliefs about the margins of this issue, but I would be surprised if he didn’t generically believe in the RKBA, which unfortunately is still very much at issue even though we’re winning big now. We know from John Lott at their U of Chicago days that Obama didn’t and we assume doesn’t believe in it.

        We should be concerned, and we probably can’t expect much if any regulatory relief (e.g. a reversal of G. H. W. Bush’s import ban), but I’m otherwise not very worried.

    1. I’ll second Harold. Romney wants to be President, and then he wants to be a successful President. As much as he wants to work across the aisle, the simple fact is his base (and a good number of Dems in the House) are pro-2A.

      I don’t think Romney knows squat about guns. So that means he likely knows less about gun laws and gun rights. The important thing is that his policies and direction will come from those around him. Ryan is a nice foil, but the simple fact is most of his advisers will be Boston alumnus of his Governorship. I doubt we’ll see an expanse of his core team beyond those he already has worked with.

      So I doubt we’ll see anything from Romney other than some token bone throws. He did say he’d sign the reciprocity bill, and that is a pretty big bone.

      So it’s all going to come down to the Congress, and specifically the Senate. If Reid is still boss down there, he might let a pro-gun bill or three slip by if he doesn’t have Obama to protect. He will also be facing reelection the next time we play this game. The irony here is that Obama talking up an AWB might give Senate Dems cover to vote 2A, because they can resurrect arguments that talk of an AWB helped decide the vote ala 1994.

      And if Obama wins, we still have the House holding defense. Obama can do a lot via fiat, but not an AWB. It’s another promise he cannot keep.

  2. In Heller, Scalia’s logic seems to have been:

    1. The right to keep and bear arms is a right that pre-existed the Constitution. The Constitution guarantees this right.

    2. It is contrary to the Constitution to categorically ban ownership of firearms commonly held by people for lawful purposes.

    3. A handgun is a type of firearm commonly held by people for lawful purposes.

    4. It is therefore unconstitutional to ban the ownership of handguns.

    If you substitute AR15 for handgun, the same logic still applies. If you substitute AR15 with 30 round magazine, you still get the same result.

    JMO, but the AWB is dead, stiff, and stinkin’. If such a law could be passed again, I think Gura would have a field day.

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