Skip to comments.LIFTING THE BAN? (A 1996 Debate)
Posted on 12/04/2003 10:57:13 AM PST by yonif
Two members of the House Judiciary Committee: Bill McCollum, Republican of Florida, Charles Schumer, Democrat of New York, debate the assault weapons ban. The ban was enacted into law in 1994, but re-opened for debate and possible repeal Friday by the Republican controlled Congress.
JIM LEHRER: Congressman McCollum, why should this ban be repealed?
REP. BILL McCOLLUM, (R) Florida: (Capitol Hill) Well, it wasn't a good idea in the first place. I was opposed to it back when it was enacted. You're dealing with a situation where you literally have thousands of semiautomatic rifles that are not banned out there that have the same fire power, the same killing power, the same semiautomatic mechanism as in these so-called assault weapons that have been banned. And it's kind of a farce, I think, on the American public to say we're going to take a few weapons because they look bad, because they have stocks, collapsible stocks, or whatever the characteristics are, and take them off the streets and say we're going to ban them. And frankly, that doesn't make sense. And it's also true that less than 1 percent of all of the crimes committed with guns in this country are committed with these so-called assault weapons. So to me, I don't think that that's the right thing to do. The way to solve this problem, violence with guns, is to get tough, to put real penalties in there for people who use the guns.
JIM LEHRER: Has something happened between the time the bill was enacted and now that is harmful that has caused you and your colleagues to push for its repeal?
REP. McCOLLUM: Nothing more than the fact that many members have all along felt that there was not a good point to have this there, and without that, the right for anybody to have any one of these arms is being infringed. And, and unless there is a good public policy reason why not to do that and an overriding one, it's a constitutional question as far as I'm concerned.
JIM LEHRER: Congressman Schumer, what's the public policy reason for keeping the ban on?
REP. CHARLES SCHUMER, (D) New York: (Capitol Hill) Well, these weapons only have one purpose, to kill a lot of people quickly. No legitimate hunter uses them. You can't shoot animals with them. No legitimate person in self-defense uses them because they spray so many bullets so quickly, so wildly, and so the bottom line is there's only--the only people who use them are mass murderers, people who want to--drug dealers--frighten other people, et cetera. The best argument for the bill is ask law enforcement, ask the police officers of this country who overwhelmingly support the assault weapons ban. They know that these kind of guns can shoot bullets that pierce the armor that police wear, you know, the bullet-proof vests and stuff, and it's worked. The amount of killing with assault weapons, it is true that it's not most of the crimes, but there's no good reason to have them, except they were designed, the AK-47's, by the Russian army, the Uzies by the Israeli army, to just kill a lot of people quickly, and we just don't need them. The reason that we're doing this is three letters: NRA. They want it done. Most Republicans, even those who are against the ban, don't want it brought to the floor, but Newt Gingrich promised 'em he'd bring it to the floor, and that's what he's doing.
JIM LEHRER: Is that what this is all about, Congressman McCollum, a promise to the NRA?
REP. McCOLLUM: No. It's all about the fact that you do not have a distinction between the Uzies and the AK-47's and several other weapon models that were banned, and many, many others that are legally being sold in the United States today that anybody can possess. There is no functional difference. They have the same fire power. They're not automatic. They're not machine guns; they were banned a long time ago. They are your basic semiautomatic weapon. An awful lot of wonderful politics is being made out of this, but the reason it's being brought back up again is because there was a commitment made--we made it during the campaign season last year when the Republicans took over the Congress, to bring this issue back up, and that commitment is being fulfilled now. And the reason why it hadn't been fulfilled earlier is because there was also a commitment that it wouldn't be brought out until after the terrorism bill was voted on on the House floor, and that got hung for an interminable period of time, as you know, with great difficulty, but it's now been voted on and the bill's out.
JIM LEHRER: Congressman Schumer, what about that? The Republicans made a commitment to their voters and they're meeting that commitment.
REP. SCHUMER: Well, I don't think they made a commitment to their voters. This was not in the Contract With America. I think a small number of Republican leaders, not Bill McCollum, made a commitment to the NRA and said to them, you support us with money and everything else, we will do this. And that's sort of the widely known secret around here, that this is being done not because the Republican Party thinks it's good for it--one unhappy man in town these days is Bob Dole--he doesn't want this hot potato thrown over to him--but rather because the NRA, which is an extremist organization, it's moved from being a gun club to something that where they believe that the militias are okay, where they believe people should be allowed to have bazookas and tanks, they are demanding that this be brought to the floor.
JIM LEHRER: Yes.
REP. McCOLLUM: I was trying to point out that Chuck is conveniently forgetting the fact that there are quite a sizable number of Democrats who want to bring this out.
REP. SCHUMER: Oh, yeah.
REP. McCOLLUM: Who signed letters to this effect, and I don't think it is strictly--
REP. SCHUMER: They're wrong too.
REP. McCOLLUM: You know, he's making it out like the NRA is some big, huge, terrible organization--
REP. SCHUMER: Yeah, they are.
REP. McCOLLUM: --that's causing all of this, and I know you, you believe that.
REP. SCHUMER: I do.
REP. McCOLLUM: I know you honestly believe it.
REP. SCHUMER: I do.
REP. McCOLLUM: But the truth of the matter is there are a lot of people who are members of Congress, as well as a lot of other citizens out there, whether they're members of the NRA or aren't, and I'm not a member, never take money from 'em or whatever, who honestly believe that this is a huge mistake and wrong to have this assault weapon ban because it doesn't solve the problem. And--
REP. SCHUMER: Well--
JIM LEHRER: Back to the substance, Congressman McCollum, and Congressman Schumer's point a few moments ago that these guns are designed to kill people. They're not for hunters; they're not for self-defense. The police--most law enforcement people are, are--support the ban. So what is the justification on a substance level for keeping this--for lifting the ban?
REP. McCOLLUM: Look, the models that we've banned in here are no more different than any other model that's out there. Some of these semiautomatic weapons are used in hunting, they are used in target practice. They're used in competition in, in various functions where you have gun competitions that go on. There is no rationale basis for banning these particular weapons, none whatsoever, because they're not functionally different. They have exactly the same fire power and exactly the same killing power as the other weapons. What I'd also like to point out is that when we vote on this assault weapon repeal, we're also going to give in that bill the opportunity to vote on something that I've long advocated, and I think Mr. Schumer generally agrees with, and that's the opportunity to say, at least with regard to federal crimes, which will be all drug-related crimes, if you use a gun, you will be punished with a minimum mandatory sentence of five years, actually just for possessing the gun in the commission of a federal felony, ten years for brandishing it, and fifteen years for discharging it, and double that if you do it a second time, with the possibility of life at a certain point just for being involved, and even the death penalty.
REP. SCHUMER: Jim, let me make one point.
JIM LEHRER: Yes.
REP. SCHUMER: We had a hearing today, where there were victims, people who lost their children, their husbands, their wives, to assault weapons. Those--many of the criminals who did those crimes have been put in jail for a long period of time. I agree with Bill, it would even be better for a longer period, but unless you ban the weapon, those people's anguish isn't going to go away because the guns will still be available to mad men like Colin Ferguson, who did the LIRR killing, or the people--
REP. McCOLLUM: Colin Ferguson--
REP. SCHUMER: --in Stockton--
REP. McCOLLUM: --didn't use one of the ones that were banned.
REP. SCHUMER: Yes. He used a stock. We ban also more than 10 bullet stocks, so you can't shoot a whole lot of bullets.
JIM LEHRER: Congressman Schumer, what is the evidence--reverse the question I asked Congressman McCollum--
REP. SCHUMER: Sure.
JIM LEHRER: --at the beginning--what's the evidence that the ban has done any good these last two years?
REP. SCHUMER: If you ask all major law enforcement people, the number of--it was before the ban, while it was--Bill is correct--and I respect Bill's fidelity to the facts--1 percent of all gun crimes use these assault weapons, 8 percent of the killings were involved. The number of killings with assault weapons--and they're still out there, because, because of the power of the NRA, we didn't ban them altogether, we just ban the new ones, manufacture, et cetera, and it'll take a while for the supply to dry up--but still, the number of people killed with assault weapons, whether it be children, police officers, the number of crimes in which assault weapons are used is already down. It will go down further if we don't--
JIM LEHRER: And you think the ban--you think the ban had something to do with that?
REP. SCHUMER: Not only do I think that it does, but the FBI and the Justice Department who study this think it did, and so do the major police organizations--
REP. McCOLLUM: Well, let me--
REP. SCHUMER: --of America think that it has.
REP. McCOLLUM: Obviously if you ban the use, they're harder to get ahold of those particular models, it's going to be very interesting to see over the next few years whether or not the statistics support the same proposition with respect to semiautomatics generally, because there's still a thousand of them out there. Let me make one other point.
REP. SCHUMER: Well, I would just, if I could interrupt Bill for a brief second, if you want to wait and see, there's a 10-year sunset on this. In other words, it ends after 10 years. Let's wait and see--
REP. McCOLLUM: Well--
REP. SCHUMER: --if it's working, instead of banning--repealing it after only three, four months.
REP. McCOLLUM: The problem is, Chuck, the focus is on all of this banning, and what we need to be doing is doing what the bill we're offering tomorrow will do, and that's to put some deterrence in here that really would be meaningful so that somebody who, who won't commit the crime with a gun, they're going to think twice, who's going to pick it up? In fact, one of the provisions we put in this is saying if you use a clip, which is all semiautomatics have clips, with 10 rounds or more, you're going to get double the punishment I just said earlier about the minimum mandatories. Absolutely, I think that will be the deterrence. That is going to stop a lot of kids and other people from ever thinking twice about using something like this.
REP. SCHUMER: The one, Jim, doesn't argument against the other. I'm for tough penalties on these people who use guns.
REP. McCOLLUM: But you're doing something useless.
REP. SCHUMER: I authored a whole lot. But you also--
REP. McCOLLUM: Futile.
REP. SCHUMER: --if it's a first-time criminal, if it's somebody who will not be deterred because they're a mad man or they're crazy, as a lot of these serial killers are--I mean, people who shoot a lot of people at once are--umm, the--moving the penalty from five years to seven or ten years to fifteen isn't going to do the job, even though that is just punishment.
REP. McCOLLUM: But if you don't take all the semiautomatics off the streets, yours isn't going do to any good.
REP. SCHUMER: You've got to take--you've got to get rid of some of these weapons. You've got to make it harder for these crazy people, these criminals, to get hold of them. You need to do both.
JIM LEHRER: Congressman McCollum, the--if it does pass the House and it goes to the Senate, Sen. Feinstein, for one, has promised the mother of all filibusters. The President said again today he's going to veto this if it ever comes to his desk. So is this kind of a vote for the record, that, that you Republicans feel you must do?
REP. SCHUMER: Yes.
REP. McCOLLUM: Well, I want to make one comment, and I'll answer that. I just want to say that if you don't ban all the semiautomatics and you don't ban the vast majority of them, then the ban that's there now isn't really going to do any good whatsoever. We're fooling ourselves. With regard to why and what's going to happen with this, I don't know whether it'll pass in the Senate. I know the President is going to veto it. I don't think the votes are going to be there to override the veto. I think that this is simply going to be a statement, as Congress often does, of the views of those who make the vote in the House, and yet, that is a statement that should be made. It's a statement that will be on the record for everybody to see, and it is going to be there. Now, what happens in the future? Politics change, elections change, and people who serve here change, but right now it will be an on-the-record vote, and again it's important.
REP. SCHUMER: Two quick points on that, Jim. First, Bill would be the last one who would want to ban all the semiautomatics. He says don't ban the assault weapons because we'll have other weapons, but the very same people who say that are not for banning any weapons.
REP. McCOLLUM: We're not going to ban guns. That's a good point.
REP. SCHUMER: Second, I would make the--
REP. McCOLLUM: I agree with it.
REP. SCHUMER: --point that on the politics of it, the bottom line is, I think you are right, this is being done as a symbolic vote, it will not, thank God, the repeal will not become law, and I think it'll help elect a Congress that will be more pro-gun control next time out.
REP. McCOLLUM: Let's put punishment in there and not ban--
JIM LEHRER: All right. The bottom--
REP. SCHUMER: Let's do both.
JIM LEHRER: --bottom line here tonight, gentlemen, is we have to go. Thank you both very much.
REP. SCHUMER: Thank you.
REP. McCOLLUM: Thank you.
It's sad when even our allies can't get it right and they forget that "assault rifles" are militia (military style) weapons that are intended for military use, just the way the 2nd Amendment specifies. Why, do these "conservatives" allow themselves to get sidetracked into the "hunting purposes" crap?
Say it with me brothers and sister:
"The 2nd Amendment AIN'T about hunting!!!!!"
What's a bullet stock?
It's just amazing that Schumer is so absolutely ignorant on this subject, isn't it? If he's going to try and be convincing, he should at least read up on the subject a little bit.
"10 bullet stocks" indeed...
Ig'nance is sad to see......
Former LA mayor, Rirdon (sp?) wanted to ban "berringers". That's either a cross between a Beretta and a derringer, or it's a California Merlot wine that is "precocious, but not pretentious." The mayor never cleared that one up, but I'm sure he pushed legislation along those lines........
"The Second Amendment isn't about protecting ourselves against criminals. It's about all of us protecting ourselves from all of you." - Dr. Suzanne Gratia, a survivor of the Killeen, Texas Luby's massacre, to Congressman Charles Schumer (D-NY), 1994.
"The English Bill of Rights guarantees English citizens "arms for their defense." Politicians and bureaucrats stole this right from the people by subterfuge. In England today, only outlaws have guns. Sens. Lieberman, McCain and Schumer are working to duplicate the English calamity by stealing gun rights from the American people. Do these three senators represent the criminal lobby? Are they trying to create a black market in guns?" - Paul Craig Roberts, "Guns And Violence," townhall.com, July 29, 2002.
"There may be other things that will happen later... It may not be the end... the bottom line is what we are seeking now is the Brady Bill." - U.S. Representative (D-NY) Charles Schumer, interviewed on CNN Crossfire.
"We're here to tell the NRA their nightmare is true..." - U.S. Representative Charles Schumer, (D NY), quoted on NBC, November 30, 1993.
"We're going to hammer guns on the anvil of relentless legislative strategy! We're going to beat guns into submission!" - U.S. Representative Charles Schumer, (D-NY), quoted on NBC, December 8, 1993.
"Gun traffickers have found a new avenue for dealing guns to criminals, to the mentally ill, and the under-aged - the Internet. The firepower available on the Internet is chilling. Machine guns, assault weapons and cheaply made pistols are available in cyberspace for the taking. And they are available to those who could never buy a gun under the Brady law." - U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, March 16, 1999. [Class III applications are easier to get approved than Brady paperwork? Sorry Chuck, you need a new fact checker].
The very name has made me sick to my stomach. I guess I'd better go have a stiff one, and go to bed. Problem is, I've got no makings for a stiff one in the place. What would be better is to go ventilate a few targets, but alas there are no 24 hour gun ranges around here either.
now Texas State Representative Suzanne Gratia-Hupp. Hearts were broken all over
central Texas the day that fine lady got married. :)
Ah don't be too hard on 'em. They were just parroting the NRA line. The NRA has come around more to the "insurrectionist" and self defense against criminals aspects of the second amendment than they were in 1994 or 96.
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