Our View: Ted meets Dianne

Posted: March 18, 2013

As the gun control debate continues to escalate in Congress, the Senate Judiciary Committee last week passed yet another gun control measure during a hearing that featured a sharp exchange between two senators on completely opposite ends of this issue.

As The Associated Press reported, “Democrats pushed an assault weapons ban through a Senate committee on Thursday and toward its likely doom on the floor after a debate that underscored the deep feelings on both sides.”

By a 10-8 party-line vote, the Senate Judiciary panel approved the measure that “marked the fourth gun control measure the committee has approved in a week.” In defending the action, Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told AP that “Americans are looking to us for solutions and for action” while claiming that “the Second Amendment’s right to bear arms is not at risk” because of this proposed ban.

The results of the vote are not surprising. Democrats on the committee are walking in lockstep with President Obama, who has made the idea of banning assault weapons a key cog in his plan to reduce gun violence.

Who can forget the always eloquent advice of Vice President Joe Biden who bragged of being a shotgun owner and suggested that people had no need for a weapon like an AR-15 if they would simply buy a shotgun?

It should go without saying that neither the president, vice president nor anyone else should be able to tell other Americans how rights granted in the Constitution should apply to them, but this administration has reiterated time and time again that government knows best.

That debate over the Constitution spilled over in the Senate Judiciary Committee, with one of the liberal stalwarts of the Senate pitted against a rising star on the conservative side. The assault weapons ban bill’s sponsor, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., attempted to defend its plan to limit the types of weapons and amount of ammunition a person could buy.

This led to a strong challenge from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, who questioned the more senior member’s logic as it relates to the document that should be the only guiding principle in the debate — our Constitution. As AP reported, Mr. Cruz asked Ms. Feinstein “if she would also support limiting the first Amendment’s freedom of speech by denying its protection to some books” just as she proposed to deny Americans the right to bear certain types of arms.

Not surprisingly, Ms. Feinstein responded angrily to the challenge, saying, “I’m not a sixth-grader. Senator, I have been on this committee for 20 years” and adding that “it’s fine you want to lecture me on the Constitution. I appreciate it. Just know I’ve been here a long time.”

What Ms. Feinstein needs to realize is that her seniority means nothing when it comes to respecting the Constitution. Whether she has been in the Senate for 20-plus years to Sen. Cruz’s two-plus months makes no difference, no matter what she may think. The protection afforded by the Second Amendment is near and dear to the hearts of millions of Americans, and the thought that limiting that freedom will magically stop senseless gun violence is debunked by the raw data of who commits violent crime and how they obtain the weapons to do so. But, those of Ms. Feinstein’s ilk rarely let facts get in the way of their shrill rhetoric, as Mr. Cruz learned last week.

Notwithstanding the fireworks that made national news, the passage of this measure and others out of committee will probably be symbolic, as the AP rightly notes that “banning the high-powered weapons has encountered strong opposition from Congressional Republicans and elicited little enthusiasm among moderate Democratic senators up for re-election next year.”

The next move on the matter goes to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and it will likely be next month before the next chapter is written.