No. of Recommendations: 37
(Thanks to Cynthia Tucker, who won the 2007 Pulitzer for commentary. She is a visiting prof at the U. of Georgia.) Also, thanks, Dianne Feinstein, for a valiant attempt at banning assault weapons. I only wish your straight thinking would have prevailed.

The political climate has changed since the 1994 ban: Democrats have cowered before the gun lobby; the NRA has grown even more extreme and SCOTUS has moved much further to the right. In the 20 years since Congress banned assault-type weapons and high-capacity magazines, Americans have heard a steady drumbeat of pro-firearms rhetoric that fetishizes the 2nd Amendment. In other words, the climate around firearms has gotten crazier.

Before the debate over more stringent laws even began, most observers knew it would be difficult for Congress to grow a backbone and stand up to the gun lobby. So it's no shock that Majority Leader Reid--sensing the votes weren't there--was forced to run from the specter of the NRA and slam the door on Ms. Feinstein's effort to re-up the assault-weapons ban.

Why not reinstate the 1994-2004 ban? Is it because it was far from perfect? Well, it was, and here's why. It prohibited the sale of certain types of assault weapons and magazines. It covered only new weapons, while the old ones were grandfathered. The "grandfathers" were still available to the nefarious, the unhinged, and the impulse-challenged. Also, the original ban still allowed easy modifications that let gun manufacturers basically clone the outlawed weapons. So yes, the original ban under Clinton really was a Band-Aid in some ways. But law enforcement across the nation supported it for the simple fact that it helped. It didn't end violence or mass murders or prevent suicides (which account for 2/3 of gun deaths). But it prevented SOME killings. What's not worthwhile about that?

So for 10 years, were anyone's rights trampled? Was the 2nd Amendment compromised? Couldn't hunters still hunt? Couldn't homes still be protected? Couldn't skills be honed on gun ranges and skeet shooters improve marksmanship in closely-supervised gun clubs? The civilized world didn't end during those years.

So apparently once again, the deranged NRA leadership has persuaded Congress that an assault-weapons ban is tantamount to Gestapo tactics. More important, it has persuaded key numbers of Dems that it can end their $175K/yr. political careers if they don't continue as their water boys.

32 at VA Tech; 6 at Tucson; 26 at Newtown; and 12 at Aurora = 76 dead innocents. And in Ms. Tucker's words.....

If dead innocents -- their bodies ripped apart by bullets from an assault weapon--couldn't persuade Congress to ban at least some of those firearms and the high-capacity magazines that feed them, the cause is lost. So is our common sense.
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