Opinion

OPINION: Bill Barr Needs To Answer For His Role In Ruby Ridge

Michael Hammond Gun Owners of America

The Second Amendment community has tried very hard to get members of the Judiciary Committee to persuade attorney general nominee William Barr to renounce his long-standing support for gun control. Opposing his nomination is not a position we relish. But if members of the Senate choose to ignore his record on guns, they should not ignore his role in the Ruby Ridge scandal.

Consider these facts.

Barr was in charge of the Justice Department during Ruby Ridge, and he knew what was going on.

Barr stated, under oath, that his chief gun priority would be the Ruby Ridge-like gun confiscation orders (sugar-coated as “red flag laws”).

You may remember that Barr’s federal agents descended on Randy Weaver’s Idaho compound in August, 1992, and (1) shot weaver in the back; (2) shot Weaver’s wife Vicki to death, while she was holding her infant son; (3) shot Weaver’s 14 year-old son to death; and (4) shot Weaver’s dog.

Courts subsequently largely exonerated Weaver, while excoriating the FBI and the Department of Justice. And, although then-Attorney General William Barr claimed to know nothing about the Ruby Ridge fiasco, a 1995 Washington Post article reported that there were 20 high-level DOJ calls about Weaver in the 24 hours preceding the murder of his wife — and two of them directly involved Barr.

After that, Barr spent huge amounts of pro bono time trying to get exoneration for the FBI sniper who shot Vicki Weaver to death. He pushed for immunity from prosecution, organized letters on his behalf, and framed arguments before the trial and appeals courts.

But long before Ruby Ridge, Barr’s hatred for the Second Amendment was clear.

Testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, Barr pushed the gun control “grand bargain” which, two years later under Clinton, was to become the biggest blow to the Second Amendment since the passage of the 1968 Gun Control Act.

Said Barr: “On the assault weapon front, the proposal before us is the DeConcini amendment. And I think … I would support both the Brady Bill waiting period and the DeConcini [semi-auto ban] amendment, provided that they were parts of a broader and more comprehensive crime bill that included … very tough provisions on the use of firearms in crimes and illegal purchase and trading in firearms…”

In addition to endorsing the Brady Bill and the semi-auto ban, Barr went on to support the magazine ban by saying: “I would prefer a limitation on the clip [sic] size.”

In 1991-92, as a Senate staffer, I placed a “hold” on the crime legislation. Hence, it did not pass during the Bush administration. But after I left the Senate to run for Congress in 1993, the Barr “grand bargain” was passed during the first two years of the Clinton
administration. It turned out to be so controversial among gun owners that Democrats were ousted from control of the House as a result for the first time in a generation.

And, incidentally, under oath, Barr is now perjuring himself by claiming he opposed the semi-auto ban.

So has Barr changed his tune in 2019?

Sadly, Barr, under oath, committed that his chief gun objective would be the most insidious aspect of the Bloomberg agenda: gun confiscation orders.

Said Barr: “I also think we need to push along the ERPO’s [Gun Confiscation Orders], so we have red flag laws to supplement the use of the background check…This is the single most important think I think we can do in the gun control area to stop these massacres from happening in the first place.”

If anyone doesn’t know what Bloomberg’s gun confiscation orders involve, police or an angry “ex” can go to a “secret court” [ex parte proceeding] to obtain an order to strip a gun owner of his Second, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

After a judge rubber-stamps the order, the police arrive at your door in the middle of the night to ransack your house and, if you resist, to arrest or kill you (and your dog) — just like Barr did at Ruby Ridge.

Don’t think this could happen?

Consider the case of Gary Willis, a “gentle” 60 year-old man in Ferndale, Maryland, who was the subject of a gun confiscation order by a vengeful relative who didn’t like his politics. When Willis went to the door at 5:17 a.m. holding a gun, a scuffle ensued and Willis was shot to death. Summarily executed for the crime of being a “conservative gun owner.”

Every week, we, at Gun Owners of America, get messages from gun owners who say they will give up their guns “only when they wring them from their cold, dead hands.”

How many gun owners will die so that “the butcher of Ruby Ridge” can be confirmed attorney general?

So, for those who care about the Second Amendment: William Barr is bad on guns. Very bad. Worse-than-Loretta-Lynch bad.

For those who think the Second Amendment doesn’t matter, well, enjoy the swamp.

Michael Hammond is legislative counsel for Gun Owners of America, a national gun rights organization representing more than 1.5 million gun owners.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.