Yesterday Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) revealed that her "assault weapon" ban will not be part of the gun control bill that Senate Democrats plan to offer next month. Although her bill still can be offered as an amendment, Politico reports, "its exclusion from the package makes what was already an uphill battle an almost certain defeat." At the risk of reading too much into this delightful development, I count it as a victory not just for the Second Amendment but for rationality in lawmaking.
As a comparison of the testimony pro and con readily reveals, supporters of Feinstein's bill never offered a plausible, let alone persuasive, explanation for the distinction she drew between the guns she deemed "legitimate" and the dreaded "assault weapons" she sought to ban. The closer you looked at the bill, the less sense it made, a fact that Feinstein tried to paper over by encouraging people to conflate semi-automatic, military-style rifles with the machine guns carried by soldiers. That flagrant fraud sufficed to win passage of the federal "assault weapon" ban that expired in 2004 (which was also sponsored by Feinstein), and it continues to influence public opinion. But this time around it was not enough to obscure the absurdity of Feinsten's attempt to distinguish between good and evil guns by reference to irrelevant features such as barrel shrouds and adjustable stocks. With no evidence or arguments to offer, Feinstein despicably invoked dead, "dismembered" children in a transparent bid to short-circuit logical thought. Her appeal to blind fear was familiar to anyone who has watched this authoritarian centrist rail against mythical drugs or kowtow to the national security state. I savor her richly deserved defeat.