Rep. Paul Broun forms task force to defend rights of gun owners

ATHENS, Ga. -- U.S. Rep. Paul Broun is shooting back at Attorney General Eric Holder for proposing a renewed ban on assault weapons.


Mr. Broun, a Republican whose 10th District includes parts of the Augusta area, recently formed a bipartisan Second Amendment Task Force with Rep. Dan Boren, D-Okla. He said in a news release that a ban on assault weapons is “extremely troubling since a ban clearly violates our constitutional right to bear arms.”

Mr. Broun was responding to Mr. Holder’s widely reported statement Wednesday that President Obama wants to bring back a Clinton-era ban on assault weapons.

“As President Obama indicated during the campaign, there are just a few gun-related changes that we would like to make, and among them would be to reinstitute the ban on the sale of assault weapons,” Mr. Holder said at a news conference to announce the arrest of more than 700 people in a crackdown on Mexican drug cartels operating in the United States.

Congress approved the ban in 1994 as part of a wide-ranging crime bill, and it expired in 2004. The ban included many semi-automatic pistols, shotguns and rifles such as AK-47s, TEC-9s, Uzis and AR-15s that law-enforcement officials consider more suitable for killing people than for hunting or home defense.

Mr. Broun, an avid hunter who’s known for his collection of mounted animals, does not believe the federal government should regulate firearms in any way. Such regulations are “a slippery slope” to violating the Second Amendment, spokeswoman Pepper Pennington said.

“You’re limiting law-abiding citizens,” Ms. Pennington said. “You’re not getting to the criminals. You’re not getting to the terrorists.”

University of Georgia law professor Jim Ponsoldt, though, said a ban on assault weapons would probably withstand a constitutional challenge, even though the Supreme Court is dominated by conservatives who’ve struck down other gun-control laws. For example, last year the court overturned a handgun ban in Washington, D.C.

“The ability of the government to regulate is there,” Mr. Ponsoldt said. “Like every amendment, the Second Amendment is not absolute. I would be very surprised if even this court said the government could not regulate assault weapons.”

No congressman has introduced legislation to bring back the assault weapon ban, but the Second Amendment Task Force Mr. Broun co-chairs will fight any gun-control efforts, Mr. Pennington said.

“I think we’re going to have to be a voice in the House that’s ... playing defense,” she said.



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