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Uploaded on Mar 12, 2007
The true story of the Clinton "Assault Weapons" ban.
Newly elected President Bill Clinton wasted little time in seizing upon "assault weapons" as a political issue. Along with "midnight basketball" and the never-to-be-fulfilled promise of 100,000 new police officers, it quickly became part of an effort to transform concern for public safety into a political issue.
Clinton had barely finished moving into the White House when he proclaimed we "can't be so fixated on our desire to preserve the rights of ordinary Americans to legitimately own handguns and rifles." Then, stringing together several whoppers in a single sentence, he announced, "I don't believe that everybody in America needs to be able to buy a semi-automatic or fully-automatic weapon, built only for the purpose of killing people, in order to protect the right of Americans to hunt and practice marksmanship and to be secure."
Of course, not everybody in American can buy a firearm—felons, drug addicts, illegal aliens and fugitives from justice, for example, can not—and ownership of fully-automatic firearms has been heavily regulated by federal law since 1934. And, of course, semi-automatic firearms, which have been around for more than a century, are used by millions of Americans for hunting, self-defense, recreational target shooting and in formal marksmanship competitions such as the Olympics.
Like all firearms, except for fully-automatic machine guns, semi-automatics—including those defined as "assault weapons" by the Clinton ban—fire only once each time the trigger is pulled. They also use the same ammunition as other types of guns.
"Gun control" advocates claim that various military-style attachments—attachments that in their minds re-define semi-automatic firearms as "assault weapons"—provide advantages to criminals. But even the rabidly anti-gun Washington Post admits, "Assault weapons play a part in only a small percentage of crime." Data from police experts must be deliberately avoided by those pushing "assault weapons" bills. A clear case in point is the internal memorandum to California Assistant Attorney General Patrick Kenady that warned: "Information on assault weapons would not be sought from forensics laboratories as it was unlikely to support the theses on which the "Assault Weapons" ban legislation would be based."
Members of Congress who voted for the Clinton ban in 1994 disregarded hard evidence, pretending instead that BATF trace data "proved" widespread criminal "assault weapon" use. They ignored the Congressional Research Service's finding that: "Firearms selected for tracing . . . cannot be considered representative of the larger universe of all firearms used by criminals, or of any subset of that universe. As a result, data from the tracing system may not be appropriate for drawing inferences such as which makes or models of firearms are used for illicit purposes."
The American people eventually learned the truth, and it was not surprising then that pro-ban votes cost—by Bill Clinton's count—at least 20 Democrats their seats in the next election. Nor was is surprising that less than two years after its passage, the House of Representatives voted 239 to 173 to repeal the Clinton gun ban.
A decade has passed, and both the facts and the goals of anti-gun politicians remain unchanged.