Speaking alongside Mexican President Felipe Calderón, Obama said he has "not backed off at all" on a campaign pledge to try to restore the ban. It was instituted under President Clinton and allowed to lapse by President George W. Bush.
"I continue to believe that we can respect and honor the Second Amendment right in our Constitution -- the rights of sportsmen and hunters and homeowners that want to keep their families safe -- to lawfully bear arms, while dealing with assault weapons that, as we know here in Mexico, are used to fuel violence," Obama said.
Sorry, but didn't Holder just tell us that it was all on the back burner? What could explain such mixed messages? Do you think the President is saying what the Mexicans want to hear while in Mexico and saying what we (some of us, anyway) want to hear while at home?
Perhaps the messages are not so contradictory. In Mexico, Obama made no reference to a timetable. Maybe the economy and other issues will continue to take precedence, like Holder said. This commitment from the President is reassuring at least in knowing that the whole idea is not abandoned.
Mr. Calderón had some interesting things to say too.
Calderón said that the link between Mexican drug violence and the U.S. ban on 19 types of military-style semi-automatic rifles -- which lapsed in 2004 -- is clear.
"From the moment the the prohibition on the sale of assault weapons was lifted a few years ago, we have seen an increase in the power of organized crime in Mexico," Calderón said.
He said that more than 16,000 assault weapons have been seized in the crackdown on drug traffickers, with almost 9 in 10 coming from the United States.
The famous 90% comes up again. The last time Helmke used that figure, the whole gun-toting world went wild with accusations of lying and deceit. It turned out he was quoting the ATF. I wonder where the president of Mexico got the same figure and why he's announcing it to the world. Maybe he's doing so because it's accurate.
Another interesting thing was mentioned. The lapsed assault weapons ban would ban "19 types of military-style semi-automatic rifles." That sounds extremely specific and very clear. So, what was all that talk about anti-gun people not knowing the difference between fully-automatic and semi-automatic? What was all that ridicule about people who didn't know what a "gun shroud" was?
To me it sounds like much of what the pro-gun crowd have been throwing into the mix is diversion and confusion. The Assault Weapons Ban, contrary to what they would make you believe, is a clearly written piece of legislation that had a greatly beneficial effect on the U.S. and its nearest neighbor, Mexico. The real problem that gun folks have with it is, I imagine, that it might take away some of their favorite toys.
What's your opinion? Among those 19 prohibited weapons are there any which are necessary for self protection or for hunting? When something like that goes into effect, what happens to all the assault weapons already in the hands of private citizens? What happens to all the ones in gun shops right now?
Please feel free to leave a comment.