By Larry Keane
The U.S. House of Representatives is controlled by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). She’s constantly being pushed further and further to the Left by progressive and antigun members of her caucus who are not interested in finding common ground on firearm safety proposals.
If the rush to place blame on law-abiding gun owners for the tragedies in Buffalo, New York and Uvalde, Texas, didn’t give away their cynical intentions, the public House committee hearings this week on proposed gun control bills did. None of the proposals would have stopped the reprehensible acts and wouldn’t stop future incidents. It was all for show.
Know What You’re Selling
The U.S. House Committee on Rules held a markup hearing to debate the massive gun control package Speaker Pelosi is pushing through for a vote. The package includes proposals favored by gun control groups, including a so-called “assault weapons” ban. During the committee hearing, U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Pa.) questioned U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), testifying in favor of the bill package, about some basics.
Rep. Reschenthal served in the U.S. Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) before Congress and the congressman was deferential in his questioning. “Chairman Nadler – I don’t want to put you on the spot but do you know what the ‘AR’ in ‘AR-15’ stands for?”
“It stands for ‘assault rifle,’” the New York Democrat responded. “That’s not it…Mr. Massie, do you know what it stands for?” Rep. Reschenthaler asked, turning to hearing witness U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.). “ArmaLite – the original manufacturer.”
“Yeah exactly and that’s unfortunate because it’s the first manufacturer of the platform in I think 1963 and it’s different than the M-16 platform. I know I was in the Navy, I shot M-16s – actually M-4s.”
“But it’s still an assault rifle,” Chairman Nadler interrupted. Shaking his head, Rep. Reschenthaler stated, “I would disagree with that.”
More Americans are familiar with the rifle in question than ever and understand more about them than Chairman Nadler. AR-15-style semiautomatic rifles, or Modern Sporting Rifles (MSRs), are the most popular selling centerfire semiautomatic rifles in the country. The most recent industry estimate shows over 20 million are in circulation. The rifle operates off the same one-trigger pull-one-round-fired technology that is utilized in shotguns and handguns for well over a century. More homicides are committed in America each year using knives, clubs and fists combined than rifles of any kind, let alone from MSRs, according to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports.
Standing Up for Rights
Not to be outdone, U.S. House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) held a gun control hearing of her own. She’s currently locked in a fierce incumbent-on-incumbent primary election battle with Rep. Nadler. The two Manhattanites are trying their hardest to out-gun-control one another. Rep. Maloney’s committee hearing involved survivors of criminal violence, including those involved in the recent tragedies in Buffalo, New York, and Uvalde, Texas. Testimony was also provided by The D.C. Project’s Lucretia Hughes. Hughes is a Second Amendment advocate whose 19-year-old son was murdered by a criminal. She testified about the need for people – especially women – to be able to defend themselves and their families against criminals that won’t follow any of the laws being considered by Rep. Maloney’s committee.
Hughes told the committee there are laws already on the books that need to be enforced and that, “education is the key to safety, not ineffective legislation.”
“My son’s death resulted from a criminal with an evil heart and a justice system failing to hold him accountable for laws he had already broken,” Hughes said. “The laws being discussed today are already implemented in cities across the country. We have decades of evidence proving they do not work.”
Rep. Maloney remained adamant that pushing more gun control on law-abiding Americans. Measures include a so-called “assault weapons” ban, magazine capacity restrictions, enacting an age-based gun ban, expanding “red flag” laws while not addressing concerns about protecting Constitutional Due Process rights for the accused and implementing universal background checks.
President Joe Biden delivered a national address from The White House last week that was largely seen as unhelpful. Meanwhile in the U.S. Senate, senators are taking a deliberate, measured approach to find common ground on proposals that can garner bipartisan support while also addressing concerns that could prevent future tragedies.
Larry Keane is Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs and General Counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearms industry trade association.