Washington (CNSNews.com) – An April 7 report from the Department of Homeland Security branding some conservative groups as “rightwing extremists” is enough reason to revive former President Bill Clinton’s idea of an assault-weapons ban, according to an executive of a gun-control group--the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
"I think it certainly helps to make that case because what that report suggests is that there is a rise in the kind of paramilitary activity that we saw actually in years before the Oklahoma City bombing,” Dennis Henigan, the vice president for law and policy at the Brady Center, told CNSNews.com Wednesday
Henigan talked about the years before the 1995 Oklahoma City tragedy--when “rightwing extremist militia groups (were) out training with assault weapons, training for war against the United States government, training to shoot federal law enforcement,” he said.
“Now, unfortunately there is very credible evidence that that is beginning to happen again,” Henigan added later. “So, there is no place on our streets for these kinds of military weapons.”
He described assault weapons as being “designed for war,” adding that, “they are designed basically to kill as many people as possible, as quickly as possible in a battlefield situation.”
Henigan spoke to CNSNews.com after he testified before a House subcommittee on Capitol Hill in support of the No Fly, No Buy Act of 2009, sponsored by New York Democratic Reps. Carolyn McCarthy and Steve Israel.
Neither McCarthy nor Israel answered inquiries from CNSNews.com to comment on Heinigan's comment.
The legislation, which is still in draft form and has not been introduced yet, is aimed at keeping individuals that are on the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration “no fly list” from being able to purchase guns. The “no fly list” is aimed at keeping suspected terrorists off planes.
In response to Henigan’s comments, the National Rifle Association told CNSNews.com that the Brady Center was “exploiting” the DHS report to push its “political agenda.”
“Mr. Henigan’s employer has been trying to re-enact this gun ban by exploiting the tragic situation that’s occurring in Mexico right now as a result of violence by drug cartels,” NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam told CNSNews.com.
“Now he’s using a report that was widely criticized by various people as being insulting to our veterans and I think this is just further proof they will say anything and will do anything to push their political agenda with little or no regard for fact,” he added.
The NRA spokesman further pointed out that during the 10 years when the assault weapons ban was the law, studies show, the ban was ineffective.
“Numerous studies, without including studies commissioned by the Clinton Justice Department--in every single one of those studies it was found that the ban was worthless,” Arulanandam told CNSnews.com.
“As a result, 10 years after this law was enacted, it was allowed to expire,” he added.
In April, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano released a report warning that “right-wing extremists” were “gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues”--including the election of President Obama and “the economic downturn.”
The report, which is considered insulting by many conservatives, warns of the dangers of “anti-government” groups and others “in opposition to abortion or immigration”--as well as returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, who, it said “face significant challenges reintegrating into their communities.”
According to the report: “Proposed imposition of firearms restrictions and weapons bans likely would attract new members into the ranks of rightwing extremist groups, as well as potentially spur some of them to begin planning and training for violence against the government.”
The report added that the “high volume” of purchases and “stockpiling of weapons and ammunition by rightwing extremists in anticipation of restrictions” in some parts of the country has become “a primary concern” for law enforcement.