Back From the BrinkrnThe Second War Against Gunownersrnby Ronin ColmanrnDuring President Clinton’s November 9, 1994, news conference,rnthe White House press core dropped its usualrnpose of “objective, tough reporting” and adopted more ofrna “what’s next, boss?” bleat. Not surprisingly, some of the veryrnfirst questions put to the leader of the new Irrelevant Party dealtrnwith the future of gun control.rnWas all the “progress” we vere making on gun control goingrnto grind to a halt, or did the Republican landslide spell the repealrnof the Brady Bill? “Not to worrv,” a concerned PresidentrnClinton assured them. After chewing his lower lip for a moment,rnhe explained that one of his top aides took it upon himselfrnto read the Constitution last night and therein found arnclause about something called a “veto.” The old dogs explainedrnthe concept to the young pups, and the White Housernpress core went back to doing what anv group of dogs docs best.rnThe most annoying aspects of the pre-’89 discussions of gunrncontrol were the disingenuous arguments made by both sides.rnThe antigun lobby generally adopted a crime-control argument.rnThey argued that law-abiding gunowners must acceptrnsome “reasonable” restrictions or inconveniences in order tornprevent guns from “falling into the hands” of criminals, children,rnor the Christian right. The anti-gun control camp fell intornthe trap of allowing the other side to frame the debate.rnWhat resulted was an endless discussion about the predictedrneffects on crime of a given piece of proposed legislation. Thernanti-gun control side would always win the formal debate byrnpointing out the obvious—criminals, by definition, do notrnobey the law. They would then go on to compare Vermont, arnstate that enjoys no gun control laws and almost no crime withrnsome hellhole like the proposed state of New Columbia, which,rnas currently constituted, has the most restrictive gun laws in therncountry and one of the highest rates of violent crime on earth.rnUnfortunately, the antigun lobby did an excellent job ofrnnumbing the hearts and minds of the electorate. They wouldrnsmile and say that even if a particular law does not solve “all thernproblems of guns in our society,” it is still a good thing if it savesrnRonin Colman is a businessman in the Republic of Texas.rn”even one child’s life,” and—after all—”what harm could itrndo?” The obvious answer, that gun control erodes the power tornresist domestic tyranny—as in the case of Nazi Germany—wasrnrarely made because most “gunnies” were reluctant to opposerneither the establishment or law enforcement. After all, thern”gun lobby” was, and is, made up of tens of millions of Americansrnwho considered themselves to be the Establishment. Profoundlyrnpatriotic, pro-military and pro-law enforcement, theserngood folks had a hard time een conceiving of an argument thatrnpostulated a scenario in which they were at such odds with theirrnown government that they would need their Second Amendmentrnfreedom to resist domestic tyranny.rnIn the absence of any philosophical base, opposition to suchrn”reasonable” gun control laws as national waiting periods andrnvarious back-door registration schemes made one seem “irresponsible,”rn”out of touch with the majority of gun owners,” andrnin need of neurosurgery to correct the disorder. The exchangernwent something like this: “Why does anyone need an assaultrnweapon, why not just ban them?” “Because, Mr. Donaldson,rnsince you can’t define an assault weapon, you might end uprnbanning legitimate hunting guns.” “We don’t need to definernthem, Mr. Gun, we’ll make a list.”rnShortly after George Bush took office, the Stockton Schoolyardrnmass murder occurred. While this sort of horrible crimernhad happened before (and since), this particular incident occurredrnat a time w^hen the California Attorney General wasrnpushing for a state ban on “assault rifles.” The antigun t>’pes inrnthe media wasted no time in making this a national issue, andrnPresident Bush wasted no time in showing the electorate whatrnhe was made of. Despite the fact that he sought and receivedrnboth the support of gunowners and the endorsement of thernNRA during the election—without which, I’m told by my Republicanrnfriends, he would have lost to Mr. Dukakis—he wentrnback on his word and, at the suggestion of a “conservative” Beltwayrnthink tank, banned, by executive order, the importation ofrna list of foreign-made semiautomatic “assault” rifles. A powerrnhis office was granted by President Nixon’s 1968 Gun ControlrnAct, which then-congressman Bush voted for.rnDECEMBER 1995/21rnrnrn