The Corner

The Democratic Party Wants to Buy Your ‘Assault Weapons’ — with Taxpayers’ Money

Once again, the Democratic party would very much like to get its hands on your firearms. Per The Hill:

Gun owners would receive tax breaks for voluntarily turning in high-powered assault rifles under new legislation proposed Monday.

The Support Assault Firearm Elimination and Education of our (SAFER) Streets Act expected to be reintroduced next week by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) would provide gun owners with an incentive to turn in their firearms to local police departments.

“Assault weapons are not about hunting, or even self-defense,” DeLauro said. “There is no reason on earth, other than to kill as many people as possible in as short a time as possible, that anyone needs a gun designed for a battlefield.”

. . .

The co-sponsors include Reps. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), and David Cicilline (D-R.I.).

There’s so much wrong with this proposal that it’s difficult to know where to start. First off, there is no such thing as an “assault weapon.” Like “hate speech,” the phrase means whatever the government wants it to mean. Contrary to the deliberate willful insinuations of America’s would-be gun-banners, “assault weapons” are not fully automatic weapons; they are not especially “high powered” – indeed, they are usually considerably less powerful than your average hunting rifle; and they are no more efficient at “killing people quickly” than are common semi-automatic handguns. The worst mass shooting in American history — that at Virginia Tech in 2007 – was carried out by a man who used two pistols, one of them a puny little .22. Rifles, meanwhile, are rarely used in crimes, and so-called “assault rifles” are used so infrequently that the FBI doesn’t even keep statistics. There really is no problem with “assault weapons” that needs solving. That Representative Rosa DeLauro happens to be scared of guns that look a certain way does not change this fact.

As for the notion that the streets need to be “made safer,” one has to wonder where this bill’s sponsors are getting their information. Per the Department of Justice, non-fatal gun crimes have dropped 75 percent since 1993, while the murder rate has been cut in half. In the meantime, the country has been flooded with new weapons (up to 180 million of them) and the laws in almost every state have been loosened dramatically. The idea that we could bring down this rate even further if we were to go after the sort of people who would be happy to hand in their weapons is naive to the point of comedy — what, pray, does DeLauro think criminals are likely to say: “Well, I was going to commit mass murder, but now that there’s handing out tax credits I’ll go for that instead”? — but, even if we somehow could, her bill would be still be aiming at the wrong target. At present, the greatest firearms-related problem in the United States is suicide, which accounts for more than two-thirds of all “gun deaths.” Are we honestly expected to believe that we can limit the number of self-inflicted deaths by going after . . . rifles.

These inconvenient truths to one side, that the government would even consider attempting to bribe the citizenry into giving up its last-ditch source of self-protection is unseemly and disgusting. Representative DeLauro can talk about “hunting” and “self-defense” all she damn well likes, but she cannot alter the fact that the Second Amendment was inserted into the Constitution not to protect your annual duck hunting excursion but as a safety valve for a population that was understandably mistrustful of government and rightfully nervous of tyranny.

The Declaration of Independence notes early on that “whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it.” This language was almost echoed in the Constitution. James Madison, who would write in Federalist No. 39 that the “fundamental principle of republican government” was that it ”admits the right of the people to alter or abolish the established Constitution whenever they find it inconsistent with their happiness,” had hoped to include in the national charter the promise that the people “have an indubitable, inalienable, and indefeasible right to reform or change their Government, whenever it may be found adverse or inadequate to the purposes of its institution.” Sadly, that passage did not find its way into the final draft. But the principle most certainly did. When the Second Amendment was passed a couple of years after ratification, the notion that it was in there to protect against usurpation was commonly — almost tediously – expressed. Clearly, one cannot abolish the government with a tax credit.

Amusing enough, DeLauro does not seem to have thought her proposal through especially well, for as Reason’s J. D. Tuccille notes wryly today, if the scheme were to become law it would be an open invitation for savvy gun owners to upgrade their weaponry at the taxpayers’ expense:

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Ct.) wants to give you up to $2,000 on a trade-in of your old “assault weapon” that you can put toward a brand new boomstick!

According to Rep. DeLauro’s Website, “The SAFER Streets Act creates a $2,000 refundable tax credit ($1,000 for two consecutive years) for an assault weapon owner who gives their firearm to law enforcement.” And you can put that $2,000 tax credit toward a brand new assault weapon of your choice!

. . .

But let’s take the opportunity for what it is. If Rep. DeLauro wants to hand out tax credits to people willing trade in a qualifying hunk of junk so they can score sweet new guns, it would be churlish to say “no.”

Now there’s an offer.

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