A perfect storm is developing for Second Amendment opponents that could allow President-elect Barack Obama's choice for attorney general – Eric Holder – to "ban guns at will" despite the 2008 affirmation from the U.S. Supreme Court that U.S. citizens have a right to bear arms.
The situation was described with alarm by Alan Korwin, author of Gun Laws of America, in a recent commentary.
He cited Holder's known support for gun bans – the former Clinton administration official endorsed the District of Columbia's complete ban on functional guns in residents' homes before it was overturned by the Supreme Court.
And Korwin pointed to overwhelming Democratic majorities in Congress as well as Obama's known support for gun restrictions and his presence in the Oval Office.
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Thirdly, Korwin, one of many Second Amendment advocates raising concerns, cited a proposal already submitted to Congress at a time when its backers could not reasonably expect it to succeed.
The submission is H.R. 1022 by New York Democrat Carolyn McCarthy and 67 co-sponsors. It was introduced in February 2007 and the next month referred to the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, where it has stayed.
But that could change in the 111th Congress, sworn in today. And Korwin said the plan would allow the U.S. Attorney General – possibly Holder – to add to the list of guns banned to the public any "semiautomatic rifle or shotgun originally designed for military or law enforcement use, or a firearm based on the design of such a firearm, that is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, as determined by the Attorney General."
"Note that … Holder … wrote a brief in the (District of Columbia) Heller case supporting the position that you have no right to have a working firearm in your own home," Korwin said.
In making this determination, the bill says, "there shall be a rebuttable presumption that a firearm procured for use by the United States military or any federal law enforcement agency is not particularly suitable for sporting purposes, and a firearm shall not be determined to be particularly suitable for sporting purposes solely because the firearm is suitable for use in a sporting event."
"In plain English," Korwin said, "This means that any firearm ever obtained by federal officers or the military is not suitable for the public. That presumption can be challenged only by suing the federal government over each firearm it decides to ban, in a court it runs with a judge it pays. This virtually dismisses the principles of the Second Amendment.
"The last part is particularly clever, stating that a firearm doesn't have a sporting purpose just because it can be used for sporting purpose – is that devious or what? And of course, 'sporting purpose' is a rights infringement with no constitutional or historical support whatsoever, invented by domestic enemies of the right to keep and bear arms to further their cause of disarming the innocent," he said.
Korwin told WND a new proposal to replace H.R. 1022 is not expected to be less draconian.
"Remember – these bans were proposed when the congressional anti-rights crowd had no chance of success. Now they are ready to run wild, or according to Sarah (Brady) herself, 'I have never been so confident,'" Korwin wrote, referring to the champion of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, which requires background checks on purchasers of handguns.
Korwin said the Democrats listed in H.R. 1022 a framework for guns to be banned that includes originals, copies or duplicates of a wide-ranging list of shotguns, pistols and rifles.
One of the red flags for semiautomatic rifles would be "anything" that can serve as a grip, and as set up now, the Democrat members of the Judiciary Committee "are all sworn enemies to the Second Amendment and are unlikely to be swayed at all by any firearms related arguments," he said.
The Republicans all "need to be pressed hard to do everything they can to block the appointment."
Further, with the expectation that Obama will appoint at least one or two Supreme Court justices, further damage could be just a vote or two away, he said.
"If he can get a 5-4 or 6-3 majority who dislike gun rights, you could find that your [Second Amendment] rights aren't what they've been for 200 years," Korwin said.
John Snyder assembled a list of prominent critics of the Holder nomination.for the Firearms Coalition.
"A former Ohio secretary of state, (Ken) Blackwell notes that, 'despite Obama's new lip service to the Second Amendment, Holder signed onto a brief earlier this year (2008) reaffirming his long-held position that the Second Amendment confers no rights whatsoever to private citizens, and that the Supreme Court should have upheld D.C.'s absolute ban on handguns, even in homes."
Snyder also cited comments from Brian Darling, director of U.S. Senate Relations at the Heritage Foundation, that Holder's position "strongly suggests that Holder is hostile to private gun ownership and will work to restrict gun rights."
Shotgun News columnist Jeff Knox wrote, "The gun rights community should make every effort to see to it that Holder's nomination is withdrawn or rejected."
According to Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb, Holder has supported handgun licensing and mandatory trigger locks. He also lobbied for limits on gun shows.
"This is not the record of a man who will come to office as the nation's top law enforcement officer with the rights and concerns of gun owners in mind," Gottlieb wrote.
"America's 85 million gun owners have ample reason to be pessimistic about how their civil rights will fare under the Obama administration," Gottlieb said. "Mr. Obama will have a Congress with an anti-gun Democrat majority leadership to push his gun control agenda. Gun owners have not forgotten Mr. Obama's acknowledged opposition to concealed carry rights, nor his support for a ban on handgun ownership when he was running for the Illinois state senate."
The issue of gun rights is more important than many believe, wrote Joseph Farah, WND's founder and editor, in a recent column. He cited a study from the University of Maryland and University of Michigan that uncovered a beneficial link between gun shows and crime.
"We find a sharp decline in the number of gun homicides in the weeks immediately following a gun show," the study concluded. Furthermore, in Texas they found "gun shows reduce the number of gun homicides by 16 in the average year."
"Holder’s appointment to be AG must be approved by the Senate," wrote David Codrea in the Examiner. "While it is highly unlikely that opponents could muster the 51 votes needed to reject Holder's appointment, a single senator can place a 'hold' on the confirmation and effectively lock up the system just as Democrats did with a number of President Bush's judicial appointments and the appointment of John Bolton to be Ambassador to the U.N."
The Supreme Court decided in the D.C. vs. Heller case that the Second Amendment provides an individual right to own firearms, not just the right for states to form armed militias.
The Constitution does not permit "the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home," Justice Antonin Scalia said in the majority opinion.
Justice John Paul Stevens, writing in dissent, said the majority "would have us believe that over 200 years ago, the Framers made a choice to limit the tools available to elected officials wishing to regulate civilian uses of weapons."
Scalia said the ruling should not "cast doubt on long-standing prohibitions on the possession of firearms by felons or the mentally ill, or laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings."
Scalia was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and Clarence Thomas. Joining Stevens in dissent were Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter.
The amendment, ratified in 1791, says: "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."
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