By James W. Porter II, NRA President
When the New York Times published an op-ed thoroughly exposing the “Assault Weapons Myth,” the major players in the gun-ban movement blithely said they were moving on, that a federal gun-ban was a “non-starter.”
With that myth shattered, gun banners have simply regrouped to concentrate on their new big lie—“universal background checks.”
The Times piece was surprisingly accurate, with evidence from Justice Department researchers and other academics who long-ago concluded the 1994 “assault weapons” ban’s effect on crime was “too small to measure.” In reality, the issue was a massive fraud.
In her September 14, 2014, analysis, Lois Beckett of ProPublica accurately dissects what I would prefer to call a serial lie that led to the passage of U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s and (then) U.S. Rep. Chuck Shumer’s 1994 “assault weapons” ban. It was, says Beckett, purely political fiction, or as she put it, “… Democrats created and then banned a category of guns they called ‘assault weapons.’” These firearms, she writes “were presented by the media as the gun of choice for drug dealers and criminals and which many in law enforcement wanted to get off the streets.”
None of that was true then, nor is it true today.
Beckett in this and subsequent pieces, validated NRA’s truth about what has been a phony issue. My initial reaction was surprise, followed by anger.
Since all of this is and has been a “myth,” what the hell has the last 30 years’ expenditure of time, emotion and money by millions of threatened Americans been all about?
What about the loss of freedom of peaceable individual citizens in states like New York, Connecticut, Colorado, California and Maryland where the “assault weapons myth” led to real confiscatory bans with Draconian criminal penalties? What about all those formerly law-abiding citizens who are now potential felons? These good citizens are paying a heavy price for a “myth.”
Beckett should go a few steps further and put human faces on victims of the “Assault Weapons Myth.”
Neither the Times, nor other major media that consistently amplified the big lie of “assault weapons” over decades, even blinked over Beckett’s revelations.
Huge damage has been done to countless citizens and the gun-ban crowd wants to simply walk away saying, “Nevermind?”
Not to take anything away from Beckett—we hope she pursues the truth further—but there is something else afoot here. With the gun-ban crowd’s reaction—to take a walk on this issue—they’re now admitting that the “assault weapons” ban is a big rock tied around their necks and they want to lose the loser.
From the get-go, the “assault weapons” issue was a self-fulfilling disaster for the anti-Second Amendment crowd—simply because when it was enacted, honest Americans went on a buying spree that has never abated. In terms of grassroots power alone, that changed the dynamic.
The man initially responsible for the “assault weapons” fraud, Josh Sugarmann, who founded the venomous Violence Policy Center, believed that banning handguns was impossible because there were just too many of them in private hands. “Assault weapons,” he wrote, were the perfect “new topic” because “few people can envision a practical use for these weapons.”
With your opposition and NRA’s successful legislative action, the 1994 federal ban as passed included an automatic sunset provision under which it would vanish off the books after 10 years, unless reenacted by Congress.
During that decade, which predictably saw no reduction in any crime, the ban produced another result—a massive consumer demand.
When the ban vanished off the federal books in 2004, that demand was exponential.
Where in the early 1990s only a handful of companies produced the AR-15, there are now thousands of companies producing rifles, parts and accessories. There has never been anything like the aftermarket commerce for ARs, which has become the most popular rifle in history. With each acquisition over the years, the firearm that “few people can envision a practical use for” has become ubiquitous.
Because of the ban, because of the big lie and because of the likes of Dianne Feinstein on a national level, Sugarmann’s original fear about handgun ownership—too many in private hands to ban—now applies equally to semi-automatic long guns.
As the new effort of the gun-ban lobby to back away from their “myth” expands, so will our opportunity to take back lost ground. We must never let up in our efforts to free all American gun-owners from the tyranny of the “assault weapons” big-lie in those states where gun owners suffer against its anvil.
James W. Porter II is the President of the National Rifle Association. His column appears in America’s 1st Freedom, American Rifleman and American Hunter. Join the NRA – click here.