Saturday, April 11, 2009
Running for president in last year's Democratic primaries, Barack Obama promised to restore a federal ban on certain semiautomatic assault guns—a position that's still on the White House Web site. The ban was originally passed by the Democratic-controlled Congress in 1994 and lapsed five years ago. In recent years the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has also lifted virtually all restrictions on imports of foreign-made assault weapons, permitting a flood of cheap Romanian, Bulgarian and other Eastern European AK-47s to enter the country, according to gun-control groups. "There's been an absolute deluge of these weapons," says Kristen Rand of the Violence Policy Center.
But Obama and top White House aides have all but abandoned the issue. Emanuel helped orchestrate passage of the original assault-weapons ban when he worked in the Clinton White House. Now he and other White House strategists have decided they can't afford to tangle with the National Rifle Association at a time when they're pushing other priorities, like economic renewal and health-care reform, say congressional officials who have raised the matter. (According to his office, Emanuel couldn't be reached for comment because he was observing the Passover holiday.) A White House official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal strategy, says, "There isn't support in Congress for such a ban at this time." Ben LaBolt, a White House spokesman, says, "The president supports the Second Amendment, respects the tradition of gun ownership in this country, and he believes we can take common-sense steps to keep our streets safe," pointing to $2 billion in new funding for state and local law enforcement in the stimulus package.
However, if there is one thing I can say about the article, what bothered me was the conclusion. Hitchens mentions that it appears that capitalism and Marxism are symbiotic. This might appear to be true at first glance (after all, what's a revolution without something to revolt against), but Marxists have a vision for society after a capitalist state. Also, Hitchens uses evidence from the Austrian school to criticize Marx, but the fall of Milton Friedman's followers shows that libertarian economists shouldn't be regarded as economic heavyweights.