Democrats just couldn’t hold it together. With less than 100 days to go before the election, the left let slip its vision of a second term for President Obama that will be the end for the Second Amendment.
They’re riding on an emotional wave created by James Holmes, the suspected Aurora, Colo., movie-theater shooter who was charged with 24 counts of murder on Monday. As the courtroom proceedings in that case unfolded, Sen. Frank Lautenberg, New Jersey Democrat, and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, New York Democrat, took to New York’s city hall to introduce legislation making it much harder for law-abiding citizens nationwide to purchase ammunition.
The liberal duo would restrict ammunition sales to licensed dealers and require buyers to show a photo ID at the time of purchase, effectively banning people from doing their shopping online. Also, the dealer would have to maintain detailed records for each ammunition sale and report anyone purchasing over 1,000 rounds.
This is going back to the bad old days of 1960s-era gun-control laws, which banned mail-order sales of ammo and required logs to be kept. These restrictions did absolutely nothing to help law enforcement, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms admitted when Congress repealed those provisions in 1986.
Mr. Lautenberg also wants to turn back the clock with a Senate vote this week reinstating a ban on “high-capacity magazines,” which he defines as any that hold over 10 rounds. The New Jersey Democrat wants to attach his bill to pending cybersecurity legislation, but his leader, Sen. Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, is opposed, knowing the political reality for his vulnerable members.
The Senate’s third-ranking leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, couldn’t restrain himself from taking to the floor Thursday to plead for more gun control: “Maybe, maybe, maybe we could pass some laws that might, might, might stop some of the unnecessary tragedies that have occurred.”
In a statement on his bill, Mr. Lautenberg said Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, among others, “publicly expressed acceptance or support for some form of gun regulation since the Colorado shooting.” That’s a rather fanciful interpretation of what Justice Scalia said on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend. Justice Scalia, who penned the landmark District of Columbia v. Heller decision striking down the District’s 30-year gun ban, said the ruling left open the possibility of limitations on guns.
“What the opinion in Heller said is that it will have to be decided in future cases — what limitations upon the right to bear arms are permissible,” said the justice. “My starting point and ending point probably will be what limitations are within the understood limitations that the society had at the time. They had some limitation on the nature of arms that could be borne. So, we’ll see what those limitations are as applied to modern weapons.” He gave the example that cannons wouldn’t qualify because they aren’t carried by hand.
The shape of those future limitations will change should Mr. Obama win his last political election. The switch of a single vote would put Justice Scalia and the originalist interpretation of the scope of the Second Amendment in the minority. Millions of gun owners will have this in mind as November approaches.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.