February 28, 2013
DEFINING PROBLEM: Assault Weapon’ Banners Still Can’t Say What an ‘Assault Weapon’ Is.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was not happy with the gun control hearing that the Senate Judiciary Committee held on January 30, where two witnesses spoke in favor of her proposed “assault weapon” ban and three spoke against it. So she arranged another hearing before the same committee, which was held yesterday. It featured five witnesses who support her bill and three who oppose it, so Feinstein is now ahead by one witness. But critics of her legislation made up for their numerical disadvantage with substance. When you read the testimony of the two sides, the clearest difference is that opponents of the Feinstein bill, S. 150, know what they are talking about, while its supporters don’t. . . .
Hardy and Johnson both show that, contrary to John Walsh’s assurances, the distinctions drawn by Feinstein’s bill remain nonsensical. “‘Semiautomatic assault rifle’ is internally contradictory and thus meaningless,” Hardy writes, since a true assault rifle can fire automatically. “Drafters of legislation are thus forced to define what they would restrict in ways that are arbitrary and irrational.” Feinstein’s bill is so arbitrary and irrational, Johnson argues, that it would fail even the most permissive level of judicial scrutiny. He calls the legislation “simply incoherent,” saying “the classifications created by the bill do not pass even a rudimentary rational basis review.” And since the Supreme Court has identified the right to keep and bear arms as a fundamental right protected by the Second and 14th Amendments, laws that impinge upon it should receive more scrutiny than that.
Yes, they should. And so should the politicians who sponsor them.