Panetta: People Don't 'Need' Assault Rifles
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told troops at a military base in Italy that only soldiers needed assault weapons.
Asked by a soldier what President Barack Obama would do to protect school children from gun violence without infringing Americans' right to own guns, Panetta said action was needed after the attack on a Connecticut school in December in which a gunman killed 20 children and six adults.
He told members of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team at Vicenza that there were areas where steps could be taken,
"I mean who the hell needs armor-piercing bullets except you guys in battle?"
In the aftermath of the Connecticut shooting - the latest mass killing in the United States on a list that includes Columbine in 1999 and Virginia Tech in 2007 - Obama launched the biggest gun-control push in generations.
He asked Congress on Wednesday to approve an assault weapons ban and background checks for all gun buyers.
Panetta, who is on a week-long trip to Europe, was President Bill Clinton's chief of staff when the United States banned the sale of assault weapons in the 1990s.
"Unfortunately that ban went out of effect," he said.
He added that he was an enthusiastic hunter.
"I've been duck hunting since I was 10-years-old. I love to hunt and I love to be able to share that joy with my kids. But for the life of me, I don't know why the hell people have to have an assault weapon."
Let's apply Mr. Panetta's reasoning to other parts of our Constitution.
Do we really "need" hundreds of newspapers reporting pretty much the same stories? Think of all the dead trees! In the interest of saving the planet for our children, and their children, we should drastically reduce the number of newspapers -- a dozen sounds about right.
Do we really "need" hundreds of TV channels? Argh! So confusing and a lot of them show the same crappy reruns from the 1970's. In the interest of sanity, we must reduce the number of TV channels -- 25 would be adequate and that's stretching the point.
Radio is a mess. All those AM stations with the same talk format and FM stations playing music and such. Do we really "need" all those choices? Five AM and 10 FM stations should be enough variety for anyone.
The internet is a clear and present danger to our kids. And what's with all those websites? You could spend the next 1,000 years sitting in front of your monitor and never visit them all. And all those conspiracy sites, and porn sites, and silly mommy blogs, and...I could go on and on. Bottom line: Nobody "needs" it and its time to throw a lasso over the whole shebang. We shouldn't ban anything -- after all, we're still a pretty free country. But do we "need" 100,000 porn sites? Two or three would be enough. And maybe one mommy blog.
While we're on the subject, how many Christian denominations do we really "need?" There are about 41,000 Christian churches in the world -- most of them having a branch in the United States. The differences between most of them can only be determined by theologians and other experts. No doubt we "need" a "Christian Denominations Ban" because there is no discernible "need" for that many difference churches.
There is a vital point to be made in refuting Mr. Panetta's clueless statement: this is how many on the left view the Constitution and the individual rights guaranteed therein. The Second Amendment and the right to bear arms -- as well as much of the rest of the Constitution -- is a frangible proposition. You can base the interpretation of our founding document on "need" because nobody really believes that something written 223 years ago has relevance to us today. It is government that is the arbiter of our rights. If government decides we don't "need" assault weapons, then regardless of what the Constitution says, this communitarian construct should be adopted.
The insidious undermining of the Bill of Rights has been going on this manner for decades. Rather than a rock upon which our freedom is based, the Constitution is becoming a bowl of jello with little ability to maintain our rights and holding even less authority and protection of our individual liberties.
Panetta's statement is just the latest evidence that we are sliding down the slippery slope toward a dark and uncertain future.