Orlando, Fla. (CNSNews.com) - The chief of staff for the nation's largest defender of gun owners' rights said Friday that the 1994 ban on so-called "assault weapons" enacted by President Bill Clinton will not be renewed under President George W. Bush.
"We are bound and determined that that the Clinton gun ban on semi-autos and so-called 'assault rifles' will not be re-enacted," said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association (NRA) to a standing ovation. "I promise you that."
LaPierre's comments came at a gathering of more than 300 NRA members attending a Friday morning workshop on grassroots political activism before the group's annual meeting Saturday.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (the anti-gun group formerly known as Handgun Control, Inc.) has attacked the NRA for not supporting the Clinton ban on semi-automatic hunting and sporting rifles.
"As a former U.S. Marine, I have fired 'assault weapons,' and there is no legitimate civilian use for these weapons," said Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign. "There is no good reason, no defensible reason to turn back the clock and allow 'assault weapons' to be on the streets."
Though the Brady Campaign refers to the law as an "assault weapons ban," the legislation actually bans the new manufacture and importation of hundreds of types of semi-automatic firearms commonly used by hunters and sport shooters. "Assault weapon" is a technical and legal term referring to fully automatic weapons, more commonly called "machine guns."
According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, only about two percent of criminals in state or federal prisons for committing a crime with a firearm used a weapon banned by the current law.
Establishment Media Doesn't Understand NRA, Politicians Do
LaPierre said the reason the establishment national news media always predict defeat for gun owners' rights is because they don't understand the devotion of those who support the Second Amendment.
"What they don't see is all of you and folks like you all over the country that, one by one, believe in freedom, believe in what we stand for...it changes everything," he said. "I don't have to tell you that without what you've done, without the NRA, President Bush wouldn't be there today.
"There's absolutely no doubt it would be [former Vice President] Al Gore," LaPierre continued. "Even [former President] Bill Clinton said it."
Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said NRA members - like those who took off from work and traveled from all over the country to attend the Friday morning session - are the reason the group is so successful both in Congress and in various state legislatures.
"It's not because of me, it's not because of Wayne. It's because of you," Cox said. "When we have legislative victories, it's because of you. When we have election victories, it's because of you.
"When I walk into a politician's office, they're not scared of me," he added, "they're scared of you."
According to Kayne Robinson, first vice president of the organization, approximately 50,000 of the NRA's four million members are expected to attend the group's 132nd annual meeting Saturday. The meeting will include a tribute to NRA President Charlton Heston, who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease, and additional workshops on defending the Second Amendment.
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