Earlier this month, Baucus and Tester sent a joint letter of strong objection to A.G. Holder in response to Holder's comments clearly testing the waters to see if violence in Mexico linked to the "War on Drugs" could be used as a pretext to reinstate the so-called Assault Weapons Ban. (Holder's comments were recently echoed by Sec. of State Hillary Clinton, leading to speculation these have become administration "talking points.")
Said Baucus and Tester:
We oppose reinstating the ban on the sale of assault weapons, and we call on the Department of Justice to enforce existing laws before it considers imposing any new restrictions on gun ownership . . . Your comments noted increased violence among international drug traffickers as a reason to reexamine the ban on assault weapons within this country; however, this statement fails to acknowledge laws already in place that work to address this issue. Under current law, both transferring a firearm to someone knowing that it will be used to commit a violent or drug-trafficking crime as well as possessing a firearm in furtherance of a Federal drug trafficking crime are already federal felonies punishable by imprisonment . . .
. . . In the light of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling of District of Columbia v. Heller, affirming the Second Amendment right to bear arms as an individual and constitutionally protected right, we urge you to avoid any legislative proposals that would jeopardize the Constitutional right of law-abiding Americans to own firearms.
Here, here. THANK YOU, Senators.
Senator Tester followed up by repeating this message during a Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on March 25, 2009. At that time, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Deputy U.S. Attorney General David Ogden were testifying about cracking down on drug-related violence on the Mexican border, and each repeated the (talking) points that Mexican drug cartels are fighting each other and the Mexican military using firearms smuggled from the United States.
The key word in Napolitano's and Ogden's testimony of course should be "smuggled," which as Baucus and Tester both pointed out, is already illegal. (As noted in this NPR article, Mexican authorities even captured a "narco-submarine" last July being used to smuggle five tons of cocaine into the U.S.--perhaps the implication here is that submarines are being purchased using straw buyers at gun shows? The role of gun prohibition in Mexico in feeding the smuggling market or the violence by preventing law-abiding people there from protecting themselves from gansters apparently didn't come up; though you would have thought that would be one of the first topics of conversation.)
During the hearing, Tester had this to say:
“I want to be clear,” Tester told Ogden. “Some have used this latest outbreak in Mexico to argue for tighter gun control restrictions in the United States. I don’t agree that that’s the right answer. I think the right answer is really cooperation at all levels of government, and smarter intelligence—more eyes and ears on the border, getting tougher on criminals that are smuggling weapons and drugs.”
Indeed. Please make sure your own members of Congress are urged to join Tester and Baucus in this principled stand for U.S. Constitutional rights.