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Perception is reality: the gun 'banners' will be back.

A quick recap for those who just woke up. In 1994, a Congress that was controlled by the Democratic Party barely passed the so-called Assault Weapon Ban, and President Bill Clinton signed it into law. To get the votes needed, Democratic leaders included a provision that the law would sunset (expire) in 10 years if Congress did not reapprove it. Last September, the ban expired.

After passage of the AWB, and through the next 10 years, the public remained convinced that this was a ban on machine guns. Despite being told dozens--hundreds--of times that this was not the case, the television networks and major newspapers around the country kept hammering this lie into the public psyche. This brainwashing had the desired effect, as witnessed by polls which showed that as high as 70 percent of the public favored the continuation of a ban on these rifles.

If the AWB really did not ban any guns--and it didn't--and if both sides understood that it really didn't do anything more than knock off a few accessories, what the heck was all the fuss about?

Perception. It most certainly is true that "perception is reality" when it comes to public opinion, and in shaping public policy.

No one spelled it out more clearly than Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, a supporter of gun bans who wrote in 1996: "Passing a law like the assault weapons ban is a symbolic--purely symbolic--move in that direction. Its only real justification is not to reduce crime but to desensitize the public to the regulation of weapons in preparation for their ultimate confiscation."

The real purpose, and it was achieved in great measure, was and is to set up in the mind of the public that it is right and good for the government to ban the ownership of some guns. Once that aberration of freedom is established, any gun can be banned. Some shoot too fast (machine guns). Some are too ugly ("assault weapons"). Some are too small ("Saturday Night Specials"). Some are too big (.50 caliber "sniper rifles"). In the end, the category of "too large" and "too small" are expanded toward each other until all guns are included.

This fight is not now, and will never be, over. We achieved a rare reversal. It is a huge success in that we have never overturned a federal gun law. One could hope this is the first in a significant string of useless gun laws removed from the books, but one would probably be dreaming.

The gun banners will be back--soon. They will say that the reason the AWB ban did not work is that it didn't ban enough guns. Stay alert. Never let them lie without being challenged. A lie left unchallenged becomes the truth.

If you have any doubt about the anti-gunners' intentions, note this quote from Sarah Brady: "The expiration of this law is temporary. It will be renewed: It is only a matter of how long it will take to renew it."

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Title Annotation:Gresham on Guns
Author:Gresham, Tom
Publication:Petersen's Hunting
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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