NEWTOWN, Conn. --- Responding to Attorney General Eric Holder's comment yesterday that the Obama Administration will attempt to reinstate a ban against semi-automatic rifles, the National Shooting Sports Foundation reminded Congress and all Americans that such a ban would cause jobs to be lost in a difficult economy, have no effect on reducing crime and would deprive millions of law-abiding sportsmen and gun owners of their Constitutional right to own the firearm of their choice.
Holder made his comments in connection with criminals supplying illegal guns from the United States to drug dealers in Mexico.
"The problem of criminals breaking the law to acquire firearms and illegally smuggling them across the border is not remedied by legislation that would violate the rights of Americans to own semi-automatic firearms," said Steve Sanetti, president of NSSF, the trade association of the firearms industry.
"These types of firearms, which are erroneously called 'assault weapons,' are used by millions of Americans for hunting, sporting and personal defense purposes," Sanetti added. "We can only conclude that certain officials are waiting for any politically advantageous excuse to announce the intention to seek a new ban on sporting rifles, a ban that would break the president's campaign promise to gun owners that 'I'm not going to take away your guns.'"
The industry and firearms owners were understandably outraged by Holder's comments yesterday, and today even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi backed away from the idea of a new gun ban. "On that score, I think we need to enforce the laws we have right now," said Pelosi, surprisingly taking the position of pro-gun advocates.
Holder's use of the inaccurate term "assault weapons" is one that is deliberately used by gun-ban advocates to create confusion between legally sold, semi-automatic rifles and look-a-like, fully automatic military versions. While the civilian version of these rifles may resemble their military counterparts, the civilian rifle fires only one round with each pull of the trigger. Additionally, these rifles fire ammunition calibers no more powerful than traditional-looking sporting arms. Civilian access to fully automatic machine guns has been severely restricted since 1934.
Studies show that the ban against sporting firearms, known as the Assault Weapons Ban, that was in place from 1994 to 2004 did not reduce crime. Furthermore, there has been no increase in crime involving these types of firearms since Congress allowed the ban to expire.
A ban on sporting firearms also would have a severe effect on jobs and the economy. Sales of semi-automatic rifles have been strong over the last several months -- overall sales of firearms have increased as much as 42 percent -- and have allowed companies in the firearms industry to withstand, to some extent, the downturn in the economy.
"These semi-automatic rifles are the most popular rifle in America today and they are largely behind the recent increase in firearms sales," said Sanetti. "This is a bright spot in our economy and has helped save jobs in our industry."
Since the election last November gun owners have feared the Obama Administration would seek legislation that would infringe on their Second Amendment rights. "It appears gun owners' fears were well-founded given Attorney General Holder's comment that the Obama Administration will seek new restrictions on gun owners. A new gun ban would fly in the face of last year's Supreme Court decision in the Heller case that reaffirmed the Second Amendment right of all Americans to keep and bear arms," said Lawrence G. Keane, NSSF senior vice president and general counsel.
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