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Hullabaloo


Sunday, December 16, 2012

 
Guess who nixed renewing the assault weapons ban?

by digby

Jake Tapper gives us a little context:

[A]ccording to Daniel Klaidman's Kill or Capture:

"Now Emanuel had his sights set on Holder. The attorney general had gotten off to a rocky start with the White House with his 'nation of cowards' speech. One week later, Holder stepped into it again. On February 25, (2009) Jim Messina, Emanuel's deputy, walked into his boss's office to inform him of Holder's latest 'gaffe.'At a press conference earlier that day, Holder had told reporters that the administration would push to reinstate the assault-weapons ban, which had expired in 2004. The comments roused the powerful gun lobby and its water carriers on Capitol Hill. 'Senators to Attorney General: Stay Away from Our Guns' read a press release issued by Senator Max Baucus of Montana-a Democrat, no less.

"Emanuel was furious. He slammed his desk and cursed the attorney general. Holder was only repeating a position Obama had expressed during the campaign, but that was before the White House needed the backing of pro-gun Democrats from red states for their domestic agenda. The chief of staff sent word to Justice that Holder needed to 'shut the fuck up' on guns…"

The back story on this is important. Emanuel, as a congressman who chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (and as such helped recapture the House) came to understand that for many Democratic members of Congress is swing districts, supporting gun control was a liability. The "majority makers," as then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi came to call them, were often from rural or blue collar districts where the NRA was active.

Yeah, he and the Party pretty much came to "understand" that adopting the Republican agenda lock stock and barrel (so to speak) was easier than trying to persuade voters that their interests were better served by Democratic policies. Obviously, if you don't have any principles, winning is a lot easier.

Here's that letter from the Senators:

Dear Attorney General Holder:

This letter is in regards to your recent comments suggesting the reinstatement of the ban on assault weapons. We oppose reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons, and we call on the Department of Justice to enforce existing laws before it considers imposing any new restrictions on gun ownership.

Your comments noted increased violence among international drug traffickers as a reason to reexamine the ban on assault weapons within this country; however, this statement fails to acknowledge laws already in place that work to address this issue. Under current law, both transferring a firearm to someone knowing that it will be used to commit a violent or drug-trafficking crime as well as possessing a firearm in furtherance of a Federal drug trafficking crime are already federal felonies punishable by imprisonment.

We will strongly oppose any legislation that will infringe upon the rights of individual gun owners. We value our outdoor heritage, and a large part of that is our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Passing this heritage down from one generation to the next is a sacred part of being a Montanan, and something that we will always fight to protect. In the light of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller, affirming the Second Amendment right to bear arms as an individual and constitutionally protected right, we urge you to avoid any legislative proposals that would jeopardize the Constitutional right of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.

Sincerely,
U.S. Senator Max Baucus
U.S. Senator Jon Tester



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