Reuters Sig Sauer handguns are displayed during the annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas.
Shortly after debuting a negative and widely-panned anti-gun control advertisement spotlighting President Barack Obama’s daughters, the nation’s leading pro-gun lobby on Tuesday released a new online ad making several policy-based arguments against additional firearm restrictions. Or, at least it tried.
The spot centers around the idea that the Obama administration is planning to confiscate all of Americans’ assault weapons, based on an internal Justice Department memo written last month that reportedly concluded an assault weapons ban will not effectively reduce gun violence without mandatory buybacks.
“Mandatory gun buybacks,” says Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA’s lobbying division. “That’s government confiscation of legal firearms, owned by honest citizens.”
The Justice Department has yet to authenticate the document in question. While, statistically, it is clear that assault weapons are responsible for far less deaths than handguns, Democrats and other supporters of an assault weapons ban argue those military-grade firearms are clearly intended to kill, and are not necessary for hunting or home protection.
Lawmakers are not currently calling for mandatory buybacks. However, a revised assault weapons ban proposed last month by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., would allow states to create a voluntary buy-back program for grandfathered assault weapons -- those exempted from the new law – and large capacity ammunition magazines.
The NRA also argued that requiring universal criminal background checks for gun purchases would be equally ineffective because it would require the creation of a gun registration database, which Cox called “an illegal abuse of privacy and freedom unprecedented in our history.”
The gun lobby, in the wake of a year that saw a series of mass shootings that peaked elementary school massacre in Newtown, Conn., has been under serious pressure to address the nation’s epidemic of gun violence. But the group has consistently argued that creating new gun regulations, in addition to being futile, is an enormous violation of Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
To increase public safety, the NRA says there should be more – not less – access to firearms. The group has officially advanced the idea of implementing armed guards in schools across the nation, with some even saying teachers should be trained to use firearms in the event of a Newtown-style attack.
It also created a “Relief from Disabilities” program that allows the mentally ill to re-establish their mental health and purchase firearms again if they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety.” And taxpayers get to foot the bill – a provision of the law requires the federal government to pay “a reasonable attorney’s fee” should a person successfully petition to have his or her rights reinstated.