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Carter Urges Assault Weapons Ban

Jimmy Carter is an avid hunter and gun owner who also happens to have once been president of the United States. The combination makes him well-placed in the current debate (or rather non-debate) over whether Americans should retain the right to own semi-automatic assault weapons. And he isn’t buying the “slippery-slope” argument that banning military-style guns like Uzis and AK-47s is somehow a threat to Second Amendment rights.

From an op-ed in The New York Times Sunday:

Many of us who hunt are dismayed by some of the more extreme policies of the National Rifle Association, the most prominent voice in opposition to a ban, and by the timidity of public officials who yield to the group’s unreasonable demands.

Heavily influenced and supported by the firearms industry, N.R.A. leaders have misled many gullible people into believing that our weapons are going to be taken away from us, and that homeowners will be deprived of the right to protect ourselves and our families. The N.R.A. would be justified in its efforts if there was a real threat to our constitutional right to bear arms. But that is not the case.

And it’s not just the gun lobby Carter goes after, but the “acquiescent” lawmakers who are swayed by it as well.

The gun lobby and the firearms industry should reassess their policies concerning safety and accountability — at least on assault weapons — and ease their pressure on acquiescent politicians who fear N.R.A. disapproval at election time. We can’t let the N.R.A.’s political blackmail prevent the banning of assault weapons — designed only to kill police officers and the people they defend.

But Carter might not want to hold his breath for Congress to act. As we wrote here recently, there’s not much appetite in Washington to take up gun reforms this year — least of all an assault weapons ban.

“You can feel your toes wiggling on the slippery slope,” Doug Pennington, spokesman for the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said of the assault weapons ban a few weeks ago. “[The NRA] will say it’s the first step to eliminating handguns from the universe.”

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