Heartland Institute Experts React to President’s Call for Stricter Gun Laws

December 19, 2012

President Barack Obama today announced Vice President Joe Biden will lead a commission charged with developing new gun-control laws. In a press conference at the White House, Obama said he expects “concrete proposals no later than January – proposals that I then intend to push without delay.”

“This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside,” Obama said. “This is a team that has a very specific task to pull together real reforms right now.”

The following statements from gun and legal experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Jim Lakely at jlakely@heartland.org and 312/377-4000.


“Sandy Hook Elementary School will be a secured crime scene for many weeks, Connecticut state police say, and hundreds of witnesses have yet to be interviewed. There is no official word on exactly what kind of gun (or guns) were used and how many of them the killer had. Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy refuses to say if the killer had mental problems. Yet President Obama has already decided changes in the nation’s gun laws and its mental health laws are needed and that such changes will prevent future Newtown-type slayings, and he has tasked Vice President Biden and the Obama Cabinet to recommend changes in these laws in just two weeks – by January.

“Until complete police and forensic reports are available – until we know what happened and why – no rational preventive measures can be formulated. Let the families grieve. Let all of America grieve. Let the police complete their work. Then let solutions be considered.

“Furthermore, it is entirely inappropriate to put Biden in charge of this effort. As a senator and author of a 1994 crime bill, Biden fabricated the term ‘assault weapon,’ weapons that were banned under that bill from 1994 to 2004. But the term ‘assault weapon’ is meaningless except to politicians and inaccurate news anchors. It is defined as a weapon that looks like a machine gun cosmetically, but operates just like nearly every type of gun now on the market.”

Maureen Martin
Senior Fellow for Legal Affairs
The Heartland Institute
mmartin@heartland.org

Ms. Martin filed an amicus curiae brief that the U.S. Supreme Court cited in its landmark 2010 gun-rights case McDonald v. Chicago.


“Harsh restrictions on the possession or use of firearms would be followed by some persons who are already inclined to follow the law, and we already don’t need to worry about those people. Millions of otherwise law-abiding gun owners would become criminals by defying harsh restrictions. Meanwhile gang members, other criminals, and the mentally deranged would go on as if nothing has changed, because for them nothing will have changed.

“Gun control does not control what needs controlling, and that is criminals and deranged individuals. Murder is already illegal. Sale and consumption of alcohol were against the law during Prohibition. Sale and use of marijuana, cocaine, and other illicit substances are illegal. Yet murder happens, drinking happened during Prohibition, and use of illicit narcotics happens despite more than 40 years of a federal ‘war on drugs.’ Laws do not stop criminal conduct. They merely define what is criminal.”

Steve Stanek
Research Fellow
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor
Budget & Tax News
sstanek@heartland.org


The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.