Friday, April 4, 2008

John McCain on the Second Amendment

In sharp contrast to Obama’s desperate attempt to hide his anti-Second Amendment stance, finding out where McCain stands on the Second Amendment is a walk in the park. To find McCain’s platform on the Second Amendment, all you have to do is go to his website, hit “issues”, and then at the bottom of the list is "Second Amendment". Dang, that wasn’t hard! So what does John McCain have to say about the Second Amendment? Quite a bit – let’s hit it point by point:

"John McCain believes that the right of law abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is a fundamental, individual Constitutional right that we have a sacred duty to protect. We have a responsibility to ensure that criminals who violate the law are prosecuted to the fullest, rather than restricting the rights of law abiding citizens. Gun control is a proven failure in fighting crime. Law abiding citizens should not be asked to give up their rights because of criminals - criminals who ignore gun control laws anyway."

Great start – couldn’t have said it better myself.

"Gun Manufacturer Liability

"John McCain opposes backdoor attempts to restrict Second Amendment rights by holding gun manufacturers liable for crimes committed by third parties using a firearm, and has voted to protect gun manufacturers from such inappropriate liability aimed at bankrupting the entire gun industry."

Honest and direct here as well. Gun manufacturers were seen by anti-Civil Rights groups as a “soft target” by groups seeking to outlaw all firearms. If you attack the manufacturers, then there are no more firearms. As McCain indicates, such liability is “inappropriate” – it’s also dishonest and selective. I don’t see the same people trying to sue Ford or Toyota because someone drives drunk and kills someone in an accident.

"Assault Weapons

"John McCain opposes restrictions on so-called "assault rifles" and voted consistently against such bans. Most recently he opposed an amendment to extend a ban on 19 specific firearms, and others with similar characteristics."

Great language here as well. McCain points out that the weapons targeted by Assault Weapon Bans aren’t really assault rifles in the truest sense of the word. A true assault rifle is a fully automatic weapon – which are covered by Class III regulations. Assault Weapon Bans target medium-power semi-automatic rifles.

"Importation of High Capacity Magazines

"John McCain opposes bans on the importation of certain types of ammunition magazines and has voted against such limitations."

No problems here...

"Gun Locks

"John McCain believes that every firearms owner has a responsibility to learn how to safely use and store the firearm they have chosen, whether for target shooting, hunting, or personal protection. He has supported legislation requiring gun manufacturers to include gun safety devices such as trigger locks in product packaging."

While I agree that all firearm owners have a responsibility to use and store their firearms safely, I do know a lot of Second Amendment supporters take issue to requiring that firearms be trigger locked when in storage. This sort of requirement virtually precludes the use of the firearm in a rapidly developing defensive situation (such as a break-in). While McCain’s stance doesn’t indicate that he believes that all firearms should be trigger locked when in storage, requiring manufacturers to include such devices with the firearm is only about a half step away from that stance. That being said, I have no inherent problem with manufacturers including locks with firearms – I just believe that people should use their best judgment when using them rather than it being a point of legislation.

"Banning Ammunition

"John McCain believes that banning ammunition is just another way to undermine Second Amendment rights. He voted against an amendment that would have banned many of the most commonly used hunting cartridges on the spurious grounds that they were "armor-piercing.""

Again, ammunition is seen as a “soft target” by many anti-Second Amendment activists. If they can’t ban the firearm, they’ll go after ammo. The newest travesty in this area is “micro-stamping” and serialized ammunition. McCain doesn’t speak to these new tactics directly. While my gut tells me he’d be against them, I’d like to see his position paper updated to reflect the latest BS from the gun-ban crowd.

"DC Personal Protection

"As part of John McCain's defense of Second Amendment rights, he cosponsored legislation to lift a ban on the law abiding citizens of the District of Columbia from exercising their Constitutional right to bear arms."

Hopefully the Heller case will settle this one for us...

"Criminal Background Checks

"John McCain supports instant criminal background checks to help prohibit criminals from buying firearms and has voted to ensure they are conducted thoroughly, efficiently, and without infringing on the rights of law abiding citizens."

I don’t think any reasonable individual has a problem with a system to keep criminals from obtaining firearms through legal channels. The key is making sure such a system doesn’t infringe on the rights of law-abiding citizens. Thus far the background check system has done a reasonable job, but the key will be not adding additional onerous provisions to it.

"Background Checks at Gun Shows

"At a time when some were trying to shut down gun shows in the name of fighting crime, John McCain tried to preserve gun shows by standardizing sales procedures. Federal law requires licensed firearm sellers at gun shows to do an instant criminal background check on purchasers while private firearm sellers at gun shows do not have to conduct such a check. John McCain introduced legislation that would require an instant criminal background check for all sales at gun shows and believes that such checks must be conducted quickly to ensure that unnecessary delays do not effectively block transactions."

The infamous so-called “gun-show loophole”. This is another hot button for a lot of people. The fundamental question is should a gun show be treated as a retail sale or a private sale. If treated as a retail sale then the background check would apply normally. If treated as a private sale, then no background check is required. Of course, for many closing the “gun-show loophole” isn’t about ensuring background checks at retail sale, it’s about banning private sales of firearms without background checks.

However, honestly for much of the country this isn’t an issue. I live in Oregon where all sales at a gun show are subject to the background check – even private party sales. The only people who don’t have to go through a background check are holders of an FFL – and then only for firearms covered by their FFL. I hold a C&R license, so while I can buy Lugers, Mosin Nagants, and Arisakas all day long (or until my money runs out, which ever comes first) without a background check, if I want to buy a Glock then I have to do the background check just like everyone else.

"The Firearm Purchase Waiting Period

"John McCain has opposed "waiting periods" for law abiding citizen's purchase of firearms."

No problem here either...

"The confiscation of firearms after an emergency

"John McCain opposes the confiscation of firearms from private citizens, particularly during times of crisis or emergency. He voted in favor of an amendment sponsored by Senator David Vitter prohibiting such confiscation."

When Hurricane Katrina hit, the first thing the City of New Orleans did was to instruct the National Guard to start rounding up the guns. It was a complete travesty and blatant violation of the Civil Rights of American citizens. So much so, that many states have passed legislation indicating specifically that the authorities CAN’T take such actions in an emergency. Good to see McCain acknowledges this point.

"Stiffer Penalties for Criminals who use a Firearm in the Commission of a Crime

"John McCain believes in strict, mandatory penalties for criminals who use a firearm in the commission of a crime or illegally possess a firearm. Enforcing the current laws on the books is the best way to deter crime."

Last but not least – let the punishment fit the crime. At the end of the day the problem is not the firearm, but the criminal who will abuse the right to bear arms to infringe on the rights of others – and the misguided politician or demagogue who would take steps to take away the fundamental right to keep and bear arms. McCain recognizes this, and wisely advocates stiffer penalties for criminals and actual enforcement of the laws on the books. Which I and most Americans believe are entirely sufficient.

So at least on the surface, McCain’s stance on the Second Amendment looks fairly solid. I’ve heard a fair amount of grumbling about McCain’s historical votes and stances. Future blogs will look deeper – beyond the few sound bites on his campaign webpage – to see if McCain’s record actually lives up to the ideal of the strong Second Amendment stance he advocates today...

Until next time!!!


Katrinka Yobotz said...

Video: Alan Keyes at Second Amendment rally in Harrisburg, PA

Fingolfen said...

Couldn't get the video to run, do you have an http:// URL that links?