Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Ronald Reagan co-signed letter supporting Assault Gun Ban

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Second Amendment, as some have so misbelieved, has no limitations. However, as we all know, there are limits to our First Amendment freedom-of-speech rights. For example, one cannot yell “FIRE!” in a crowded theater. It is reasonable, therefore, that limitations should similarly exist for the Second Amendment, some of which already include denying firearm ownership to convicted felons, and those who are mentally unstable.

As some have come to so interpret it, the purpose of the Second Amendment is to empower citizens with the ability to overthrow a despotic government – not to hunt wild game. If that be the case, one mustn’t be intellectually dishonest about the matter, and must acknowledge if that interpretation is at least accurate in part, then the Second Amendment was written to give citizens the right and authority to kill their governmental leaders.

Regarding how the spirit of the Second Amendment might be honored while simultaneously providing sane regulation to prevent tragedies as we have most recently witnessed, I offer the following.

The Second Amendment reads

“A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.”

• People who own firearms – particularly military style assault weapons – should be required to, as part of their ownership – be active members in good standing of “a well regulated militia.”

• Individuals who only own hunting firearms could be exempted from militia participation requirements.

• All firearm owners should be required to pay a federal tax upon acquisition of the firearm, no matter the type.

• All firearm owners should be required to submit to a federal background investigation and security clearance, including fingerprinting.

• Military style firearms could be subject to an acquisition tax, the amount of which could be the equivalence of the purchase price, or more – similarly to the tax imposed upon fully-automatic weapons.

• Annual accountability for all firearm owners – essentially asking the legal status of the individual, e.g., whether they’ve been arrested, or convicted of any disqualifying crime or behavior, and performing mandatory annual background checks with federal, state & local Law Enforcement Agencies.

• Lying or attempting to deceive to obtain a firearm by deliberately misleading would be a federal crime, the punishment of which could be determined – perhaps even including a ban on ownership for a set period of time, up to and including a permanent lifetime ban.

Ford, Carter, Reagan Push for Gun Ban

May 05, 1994|WILLIAM J. EATON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WASHINGTON — Three former presidents endorsed legislation Wednesday to ban the future manufacture, sale and possession of combat-style assault weapons as a closely divided House neared a showdown today on the hotly controversial issue.

Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan sent a letter to all House members expressing their support for the measure, effectively joining President Clinton in urging approval of the ban.

Together, the four make a formidable lobby, stretching across a broad ideological spectrum and giving political cover to wavering House members.

As pressures intensified Wednesday, several lawmakers who had never voted against the National Rifle Assn., the leading opponent of the ban, announced that they would support the measure.

Yet, while momentum was clearly with supporters of the bill, congressional aides continued to predict late Wednesday that it would be narrowly defeated–and proponents acknowledged that they were about five votes short of victory.

“It’s going to be neck and neck,” said Rep. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), chief sponsor of the bill. “This is going to be some horse race.”

With Clinton continuing his campaign on behalf of the ban, law enforcement officers joined with Atty. Gen. Janet Reno and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), author of a Senate-passed ban on assault weapons, to urge approval.

“I beg the undecided members of the House–give this bill a chance,” Feinstein said in an emotional speech here. “I can’t really share with you the fear I feel if this does not get a positive vote.”

In their letter, the three former presidents said: “This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. . . . Although assault weapons account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to crime. . . .

“While we recognize that assault-weapon legislation will not stop all assault-weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals.

“We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.”

Former President George Bush, an opponent of gun-control measures during his term in the White House, did not sign the letter.

Today’s vote amounts to a directive to a Senate-House conference committee on whether to include the Senate-passed ban on assault weapons in a final version of the crime bill, which must be ratified by both chambers before being sent to the President.

The House bill would ban the manufacture and transfer of 19 semiautomatic assault weapons, copycat models and others with more than one military-style feature such as a pistol grip or detachable, high-capacity clip. Such guns currently lawfully owned would be exempted. Another 650 models commonly used for hunting or target shooting would still be permitted.

The last time the House voted on a bill to bar assault-style weapons–in late 1991–the measure was rejected, 247 to 177. Both sides agreed Wednesday that the outcome will be far closer this time.

There were some surprising expressions of support for the ban Wednesday as the House approached a decision that could have an impact on the 1994 elections.

For example, Rep. Ronald D. Coleman (D-Tex.) agreed to support the ban although he has never voted against an NRA position since coming to Congress in 1972. After Clinton telephoned him Wednesday, however, Coleman switched and said he will go along with the wishes of law enforcement officers in his district.

“If it is a political offense that costs me my job to try to take Uzis out of the hands of schoolkids and make it harder for drug thugs and gangs to get the machine guns that wantonly kill our police officers and children, then so be it,” Coleman said in a statement.

Similarly, Rep. Michael A. Andrews (D-Tex.), who said he voted against a proposed ban in 1991 because it was too vague, endorsed the current bill as drawn narrowly enough to protect the rights of hunters and sportsmen.

“I have always believed in the old Texas saying that gun control means steady aim,” Andrews told reporters. “At the same time . . . I am convinced that if we limit the availability of military-style assault weapons, we will be taking a meaningful step toward improving the safety of our streets without trampling on our constitutional rights.”

Andrews, a lifelong hunter, asked: “Who can, in good conscience, defend such weapons as appropriate for hunters or sportsmen? Anyone that needs a 20-round clip of high-velocity ammunition to fell a duck or deer needs to look into taking up golf.”

Conversions like these have raised the hopes of supporters of the ban.

“For the first time last night, I went to bed thinking that this was winnable,” Schumer said. “We are really gaining momentum.”

Sen. Dennis DeConcini (D-Ariz.), sponsor of a previous assault-weapons ban that passed the Senate but died in the House, said police organizations will deserve the credit if the bill succeeds in the House this time around.

“This is the time for the House to take the political risk and do the right thing,” DeConcini said. “There is political life if you vote against the NRA.”

Plea From 3 Ex-Presidents

The letter from three former presidents to the House:

May 3, 1994

To Members of the U.S. House of Representatives:

We are writing to urge your support for a ban on the domestic manufacture of military-style assault weapons. This is a matter of vital importance to the public safety. Although assualt weapons account for less than 1% of the guns in circulation, they account for nearly 10% of the guns traced to crime.

Every major law enforcement organization in America and dozens of leading labor, medical, religious, civil rights and civic groups support such a ban. Most importantly, poll after poll shows that the American public overwhelmingly support a ban on assault weapons. A 1993 CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll found that 77% of Americans support a ban on the manufacture, sale, and possession of semi-automatic assault guns, such as the AK-47.

The 1989 import ban resulted in an impressive 40% drop in imported assault weapons traced to crime between 1989 and 1991, but the killing continues. Last year, a killer armed with two TEC9s killed eight people at a San Francisco law firm and wounded several others. During the past five years, more than 40 law enforcement officers have been killed or wounded in the line of duty by an assault weapon.

While we recognize that assault weapon legislation will not stop all assault weapon crime, statistics prove that we can dry up the supply of these guns, making them less accessible to criminals. We urge you to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of these weapons.

Sincerely,

Gerald R. Ford

Jimmy Carter

Ronald Reagan

http://articles.latimes.com/print/1994-05-05/news/mn-54185_1_assault-weapons-ban

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One Response to “Ronald Reagan co-signed letter supporting Assault Gun Ban”

  1. […] in a Baltimore Sun article.   The text of the letter can be found here at the bottom of a wordpress […]

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