On June 11, 23 state attorney generals signed and sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder advising him that they are opposed to renewal of the 1994 Clinton administration’s ban on semiautomatic firearms, erroneously dubbed “assault weapons” by proponents of the ban.
A list of those attorneys general is included below, and surprisingly, it does not include Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.
This is a remarkable letter, made public by the National Rifle Association. It follows three months after 65 House Democrats sent a similar letter to Holder, admonishing him for remarks made earlier this year suggesting that the Obama administration would like to see the ban renewed. That March 17 letter took issue with Holder, and others, who at the time were using the drug cartel wars in Mexico as an excuse to push for renewal of the ban, which expired in September 2004 after having accomplished pretty much nothing.
As the states’ top law enforcement officials, we share the Obama Administration’s commitment to reducing illegal drugs and violent crime within the United States. We also share your deep concern about drug cartel violence in Mexico. However, we do not believe that restricting law abiding Americans’ access to certain semi-automatic firearms will resolve any of these problems.
McKenna is not generally thought of as an anti-gunner. His office did, after all, advise Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels – poised to be elected president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Monday – that his blustery promise to ban legally-carried handguns from Seattle city property by executive order would be illegal. Nickels has some other problems as he heads into another campaign for re-election (the guy has never held a job in the private sector), and it will be interesting to watch whether he tries to bully people with his new national status, or make good use of his new position to address such pressing needs nationally as municipal infrastructure at times of economic downturn, public transportation, and urban decay.
It is not “bullying” in which the pro-gun attorneys general are engaging with Holder, but frank conversation about a subject that should be dead and buried. All 23 of these chief law enforcement officers concur that “additional gun control laws are unnecessary” and that the individual right to keep and bear arms protected by the Second Amendment “should not be encroached upon without sound justification – and a clear law enforcement purpose.”
Because fully automatic machine guns have already been banned, we do not believe that further restricting law-abiding Americans’ access to certain semiautomatic firearms serves any real law enforcement purpose.
The only logical purpose of reinstating the ban, expanding it as proponents desire and making it permanent would be to strip American citizens of their legally held property and make it seem acceptable. Once the gun prohibition lobby can sell the notion that banning a specific type of firearm is okay, they will wait a while and then move to ban another specific type of firearm, all under the guise of public safety.
As with the case of the letter from the 65 Democrat congress members in March, this letter did not get any news coverage, at least not yet. You can rest assured that if 23 attorneys general had signed a letter calling upon the Obama administration to push for renewal of the ban, it would have occupied all of the Sunday morning news/talk programs.
The 23 state Attorneys General who signed the letter are:
Arkansas – Dustin McDaniel
Alabama – Troy King
Colorado – John W. Suthers
Florida – Bill McCollum
Georgia – Thurbert E. Baker
Idaho – Lawrence G. Wasden
Kansas – Steve Six
Kentucky – Jack Conway
Louisiana – James D. Caldwell
Michigan – Mike Cox
Missouri – Chris Koster
Montana – Steve Bullock
Oklahoma – W.A. Edmonson
Nebraska – Jon Bruning
Nevada – Catherine Cortez Masto
New Hampshire – Kelly A. Ayotte
North Dakota – Wayne Stenehjem
South Carolina – Henry McMaster
South Dakota – Lawrence Long
Texas – Greg Abbott
Utah – Mark L. Shurtleff
Wisconsin – J.B. Van Hollen
Wyoming – Bruce A. Salzburg