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Monday, April 27, 2009

Jimmy Carter and "Assault Weapons"

Today's New York Times features an Op/Ed by former president Jimmy Carter asking "What Happened to the Ban on Assault Weapons?" Carter uses the standard hyperbole in his column, but starts out talking about how he has owned guns for years to hunt. Here's a sample:

I have used weapons since I was big enough to carry one, and now own two handguns, four shotguns and three rifles, two with scopes. I use them carefully, for hunting game from our family woods and fields, and occasionally for hunting with my family and friends in other places. We cherish the right to own a gun and some of my hunting companions like to collect rare weapons. One of them is a superb craftsman who makes muzzle-loading rifles, one of which I displayed for four years in my private White House office.

But none of us wants to own an assault weapon, because we have no desire to kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims we can accumulate before we are finally shot or take our own lives. That’s why the White House and Congress must not give up on trying to reinstate a ban on assault weapons, even if it may be politically difficult.

Now, think about that for a minute. Carter believes that everyone who has been feverishly purchasing semi-automatic rifles like AR-15s since last October, are doing so with a desire to "kill policemen or go to a school or workplace to see how many victims" they can "accumulate" before turning the gun on their families and then themselves. That would be news to one of my friends who told me recently he also made a purchase of those dreaded rifles.

Carter also has reached into the anti-rights' bag of talking points, blaming the NRA, which, according to Carter, is "heavily influenced and supported by the firearms industry." Next he trots out the talking point that the NRA is defending "criminals’ access to assault weapons and use of ammunition that can penetrate protective clothing worn by police officers on duty."

What Carter and others calling for an end to so-called "cop killer bullets" want is a ban on commonplace ammunition used for hunting, target shooting and other legitimate purposes by amending the federal “armor piercing ammunition” law, which currently restricts bullets made with certain metals and jacket constructions designed to penetrate protective vests worn by law enforcement officers. The change would ban any bullet that can be used in a handgun and that can penetrate the least protective vest worn by law enforcement officers. It should be noted that this concept has been rejected by the Justice and Treasury departments.

Carter's ban would affect virtually all center-fire rifle ammunition and many calibers of handgun ammunition, because many rifle bullets can be used in hunting and target handguns, and minimum-protection vests are not designed to protect against center-fire rifle ammunition or the more powerful varieties of handgun ammunition, regardless of how their bullets are constructed. I guess Carter only hunts with a shotgun or he would already know his rifle hunting ammo would be no longer available under his ban.

One of the biggest proponents of such a change in the law is none other than Senator Ted Kennedy. Kennedy has claimed that he is not trying to ban hunting ammunition, but an NRA-ILA Fact Sheet notes that he has objected to private citizens having .30-30 Winchester ammunition, the most popular deer hunting ammunition in American history and the ammunition that I use every year during Virginia's general firearms deer season.

Finally, Carter reaches into the anti-rights bag of talking points to pull out the "U.S. assault weapons are ending up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartels" a fact that Carter says only the NRA disputes.

Wrong Mr. President! Fact Check.org questions the numbers being used by your companions in the anti-rights movement. A number of journalists who still value the definition of what that term means have questioned the numbers being used.

And while we are correcting your facts, lets look closely at this statement:

An overwhelming majority of Americans...support modest restraints like background checks, mandatory registration and brief waiting periods before purchase.

Maybe Carter should take a look at the latest Gallup Poll on the subject that showed support for increased gun control is at an all time low. Americans already submit to background checks for the overwhelming number of firearms purchases (private sales being the only exception - and the real target of the anti-rights crowd like Mr. Carter). The majority don't support mandatory registration and why do we need waiting periods when we have background checks?

I suggest that Mr. Carter go back to Georgia and go back to what he did so well until 1994 when he reemerged from exile to jump back on the world stage - build houses for Habitat for Humanity.

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