You know, most of the time we see protests it’s because things aren’t going the way protesters would like. The Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade and progressives take to the streets outside the Supreme Court (and the private homes of justices). The NRA holds its Annual Meeting days after the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas and anti-gun activists protest in the park across the street from the convention center.
None of that is particularly unusual, with the notable exception of the protests outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, but in recent weeks we’ve seen two gun control activists protest under very unusual circumstances; namely, when they’re actually succeeding.
First there was Manuel Oliver, whose son Joaquin was murdered in the targeted attack on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Oliver was invited to the White House “celebration” after the signing of the bipartisan gun deal, only to be removed from the event after heckling Joe Biden for not doing more.
Then this afternoon, March For Our Lives activist and erstwhile pillow magnate David Hogg was escorted out of the House Judiciary Committee meeting where Democrats are advancing a ban on so-called assault weapons. The committee’s approval was never in doubt (though passage by the full House of Representatives isn’t guaranteed, and the bill isn’t going anywhere in the Senate), but Hogg still decided to disrupt the hearing in order to grandstand for even more gun control.
“You are perpetuating violence … stop these things now,” Hogg said while being removed from the hearing room by security.
The outburst came as the House Judiciary Committee was debating legislation that would ban assault weapons, a term used to describe semi-automatic rifles.
Oh, it was actually worse than that. Hogg timed his heckling to coincide with the testimony from one of his fellow gun control activists.
Hogg’s outburst came while the Senate Judiciary Committee was hearing testimony across the Capitol from the mayor of Highland Park, Illinois. The community was wracked by a mass shooting over the July 4th weekend that left seven dead and at least 48 wounded.
“Less than a minute is all it took for a person with an assault weapon to shoot 83 rounds into a crowd, forever changing so many lives,” Mayor Nancy Rotering told the panel. “Is this freedom?
No, that’s mass murder. But banning semi-automatic rifles won’t stop these kinds of targeted attacks, and would infringe on the right to keep and bear arms by making some of the most commonly-sold firearms in the country illegal to manufacture, sell, or purchase. California, for example, has expanded its ban on so-called assault weapons multiple times over the past three decades, and yet last year the state was the site of six active shooter incidents, the most of any state according to the FBI.
In the case of the Highland Park suspect, police and family members had multiple opportunities to act on his previous threats to take his own life and to kill his family, yet inexplicably he was never arrested, charged, or even taken in for a mental health evaluation. Meanwhile, the suspect completely ignored Highland Park’s own local ban on “assault weapons,” just as he willfully ignored the state’s prohibition on intentional homicide.
Hogg’s pathetic attention-grabbing stunt wasn’t the only eye-rolling moment of the committee hearing. The chief sponsor of the gun ban legislation also tried to engage in a little emotional manipulation by accusing opponents of caring more about their guns than kids.
During Wednesday’s hearing tempers ran high. Apart from Hogg’s disruption, lawmakers accused each other of political maneuvering and being insensitive to gun violence.
“We all respect the Second Amendment, but it’s not without limits,” said Rep. David Cicilline, D-R.I. “Imagine how much we could get accomplished if we clung to the desire to protect our children and communities as tightly as some of my colleagues cling to their rifles.”
A serious question for Cicilline: if he doesn’t think that anyone should be clinging to their AR-15s, then why does his legislation specifically allow existing owners of so-called assault weapons to maintain possession?
The National Shooting Sports Foundation just reported that, according to their estimates, there are more than 24-million modern sporting rifles in circulation, with about 2.8-million MSR’s sold just last year. If Cicillini truly believes that these guns have no place in the hands of anyone but the military and law enforcement, why didn’t he at least write a bill that jibes with Joe Biden’s campaign proposal to ban the possession of AR-15s and other semi-automatic rifles unless existing gun owners register them under the auspices of the National Firearms Act?
The answer, of course, is that even in the Democratic-controlled House there aren’t enough votes at the moment to pass a bill that would actually lead to the confiscation of tens of millions of lawfully-owned firearms. Heck, there might not be enough support in the House for Cicillini’s current bill to win approval. But the fact that Cicillini is proclaiming that no one should own these guns when his bill doesn’t address the 24-million or so that are in private hands is evidence that the current push for an “assault weapons” ban has far more to do with trying to improve Democrats’ standing with their own base than actually saving lives.
No matter how much Cicilline might try to “moderate” his gun grab, the fact remains that it isn’t likely to pass constitutional muster even if Democrats were somehow able to attract the necessary votes to send the bill to Joe Biden’s desk. For starters, semi-automatic rifles are in common use for a variety of lawful purposes including hunting, self-defense, competitive shooting, and simple recreation. Add in the fact that the type of ban that Cicilline is proposing has no historic analogue other than the handful of outlier states that have imposed a ban in recent years and the federal AWB that only lasted ten years (hardly a “longstanding law”) and I don’t see how Cicillini’s bill survives a court challenge.
Constitutional concerns have never prevented Democrats from advancing their anti-gun agenda, and now that they’ve declared political war on the Supreme Court the anti-gun left is even less likely to give a damn about what SCOTUS might say about their Second Amendment infringements. Their big fight at the moment is in the court of public opinion, not a court of law, and they’ll say and do anything that they believe will help them demonize the most commonly-sold rifle in the country and the millions of law-abiding Americans who legally possess them.