Major Republican Donor Will Only Support Candidates Who Back Assault Weapon Ban

Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer who was a leading fund-raiser for George W. Bush's campaigns, said he would seek to marshal support among other Republican political donors for a renewed assault weapons ban.

NYT (“Prominent Republican Donor Issues Ultimatum on Assault Weapons“):

A prominent Republican political donor demanded on Saturday that the party pass legislation to restrict access to guns, and vowed not to contribute to any candidates or electioneering groups that did not support a ban on the sale of military-style firearms to civilians.

Al Hoffman Jr., a Florida-based real estate developer who was a leading fund-raiser for George W. Bush’s campaigns, said he would seek to marshal support among other Republican political donors for a renewed assault weapons ban.

“For how many years now have we been doing this — having these experiences of terrorism, mass killings — and how many years has it been that nothing’s been done?” Mr. Hoffman said in an interview. “It’s the end of the road for me.”

My longstanding view on this is that “assault weapons” are poorly defined and that banning them would have little impact on the mass killing epidemic. It’s not obvious how an AR-15 with a 10-round magazine is any more dangerous than a Glock 21 with a 13-round magazine. Is there evidence that the type of people who own military-style weapons are more prone to violence than those who own handguns? That certain weapons are disproportionately used in spree shootings?

Still, while I think an “assault weapon” ban would mostly be a feel-good measure to make us think we’re doing something to solve gun violence, the symbolic gesture may be worthwhile. I’m not sure that banning a handful of gun models, larger-capacity magazines, or requiring mental health checks would actually prevent or deter these atrocities. But maybe simply sending a message that we’re tired of the violence and the culture that worships these weapons more than the lives of its children will start us down the road to more serious measures.

FILED UNDER: Guns and Gun Control, Quick Takes, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. JohnMcC says:

    I agree. The phrase ‘assault weapon’ has become a fake target. To the extent that it has any actual meaning it seems to be a synonym for ‘scary looking long gun’.

    It also somewhat derails the appropriate conversation and sends in onto a discussion of types of weapons. And as you point out with the illustration of the Glock most deaths from GSW are from pistols.

    If any solution to the problem of mass shootings is to be found in the technology or classification of firearms, there is bad news for the pro-gun-control side. Any semi-automatic can duplicate the shooting of an ‘assault weapon’. Only outlawing any firearm with an external magazine would do what I think most of the liberal world wants done.

    I’m very much on the gun-control side. But concentrating on ‘assault weapons’ is not the way to go on this issue.

  2. dino says:

    It’s FAR easier to aim and accurately shoot an AR 15 than a handgun.

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  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    Is there evidence that the type of people who own military-style weapons are more prone to violence than those who own handguns? That certain weapons are disproportionately used in spree shootings?

    Well we don’t officially know, because the government is explicitly forbidden to conduct research on this issue. But you’re ok with that or forgot about it.

    Whatever the conservative position is on guns these days, it is not “freedom.” Instead it’s bad faith, disinformation, propaganda, and deliberate disinterest and inaction. Republicans have, to borrow a phrase, become “soft on Terror” over this issue.

    People are tired of “tots and pairs.” We created an entire government bureaucracy to deal with Muslim terrorists. But when gun owners commit terror attacks, all Republicans say is “Inshallah.”

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  4. Mr. Prosser says:

    @dino: “Accurately” isn’t always important. A semi-auto rifle with a large capacity magazine being fired in the hands of an amateur works on the same principle as blind pigs and acorns.

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  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    It’s not obvious how an AR-15 with a 10-round magazine is any more dangerous than a Glock 21 with a 13-round magazine.

    If it’s not obvious, how come our infantry is all armed with M-4s instead of Glocks?

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  6. gVOR08 says:

    But maybe simply sending a message that we’re tired of the violence and the culture that worships these weapons more than the lives of its children will start us down the road to more serious measures.

    We have to change the culture. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And except for “you’re not the boss of me” reactions, no harm would be done.

    And what @dino: said. Under stress very few people could hit the side of a barn from inside with a handgun. Especially in any effort at rapid fire.

  7. James Joyner says:

    @dino:

    It’s FAR easier to aim and accurately shoot an AR 15 than a handgun.

    In the prone position, sure. But that’s not how most of these go down.

    @Stormy Dragon:

    If it’s not obvious, how come our infantry is all armed with M-4s instead of Glocks?

    Because they’re usually fighting from the prone position, preferably from a fighting position, and trying to hit targets several hundred meters downrange.

    @Lit3Bolt:

    We created an entire government bureaucracy to deal with Muslim terrorists. But when gun owners commit terror attacks, all Republicans say is “Inshallah.”

    My argument is that this particular provision is unlikely to have the desired effect but it’s perhaps worth trying as a first, symbolic step. But, yes, I’m afraid that the necessary change—radically changing our culture of violence and essentially disarming the population—is unlikely politically or culturally possible.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    @JohnMcC: The Australians found ways to define firearms categories.

    There would, I admit, be some irony in wanting to ban the weapons that would be most useful to a well regulated militia, but so be it.

    And let’s take a page from the Republican tax cuts. We want gun reform, not gun control.

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  9. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner:
    I’d like to defer to your presumed military pistol training, but a claim that at anything over very short range a trained, much less a semi- or untrained, standing shooter can fire with the same rate and accuracy as standing with a semi-auto AR15 clone seems exceptional. In the sea of gun stuff on Google I’ve failed to find any useful quantitative data. But on a narrow technical point, if nothing else, I’d tend to trust the NRA:
    https://www.nrablog.com/articles/2016/6/rifle-vs-pistol-shooting-six-fun-facts/

  10. gVOR08 says:

    Some time ago I looked on Open Secrets and found to my surprise my Sr. Senator, Rob Portman, got only like 10K from the NRA. The local paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer is deeply Republican, but to my surprise today they reported on Portman and the NRA. Yes, they gave only a pittance to Spineless Rob’s campaign, but in his last run they spent a quarter million on independent support for him and 1.5 million opposing his Dem opponent. A shot at 2 million in one cycle for one Senator. This is where our campaign finance laws have gotten us. They can buy a Senator and they don’t even have to ask his by-your-leave.

    They quoted an NRA spokesman who said they don’t bribe politicians to vote with them, they support politicians they know will vote with them.

    And I’m not sure there isn’t a pile of darker money floating around, like the many millions the NRA apparently got from the Russians to support Trumpsky.

  11. Lit3Bolt says:

    @James Joyner:

    Inshallah.

  12. Jc says:

    Did the Vegas shooter use a glock? Uh, I believe versions of a modified AR-15 were his weapons of choice. We cannot even symbolically pass a bill banning bump stocks…its pathetic. and its a 30 round magazine standard – Go join the “why bother” crowd, I will go with the do something crowd

  13. James Joyner says:

    @Jc: The Vegas scenario is one where there’s an argument for banning private ownership of the AR-15. But sniper-style shootings like that are exceedingly rare; almost all of the mass shootings are an untrained assailant going into a crowd and just pumping rounds. A rifle isn’t any more useful than a pistol in that scenario–and a pistol has the virtue of being more easily concealed.

    Again, I think the benefits of a ban outweigh the rather trivial liberty costs. I just don’t think it will save a lot of lives.

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  14. gVOR08 says:

    @James Joyner: Right. I don’t think a ban on “assault style weapons” would cut the carnage much. Pistols are the weapon of choice for suicide and gangbangers, and seem disproportionately represented in domestic disputes and gun accidents. And I don’t know how to effectively deal with the millions of pretend assault rifles already out there. As you’ve said, the only good it does is as a message, which seems a sufficient reason.

    That said, maybe we’ll eventually mature enough to do what the Australians did, ban semi-autos, hand guns and long guns.

  15. gVOR08 says:

    A trivial aside, but do I have terminology right? When I was young, around the time of dinosaurs, pistol meant any handgun. ‘Are you happy to see me, or is that a pistol in your pocket?’ Now there seems to be a distinction that pistol means a semi-auto handgun, distinct from a revolver.

    And I was premature in a comment on the site update, name and email are not auto filling (Win10, Chrome). Not a big, as the site flags it without posting if I try.

  16. James Joyner says:

    @gVOR08: I’ve always thought a pistol was a semi-automatic, magazine-fed handgun distinguished from the revolver. But not everyone makes that distinction, using “pistol” for all handguns.

    Odd on the auto-fill. Mine does it for me (Win10, Chrome) but I’m logged in. But it also does so on my iPhone (Chrome, iOS) where I’m not logged in.

  17. James Joyner says:

    @James Joyner: Testing comments features (Win10, Edge) as non-logged in user.

  18. James Joyner says:

    Name and Email were retained after first comment.

  19. James Joyner says:

    @James Joyner: Testing as logged out Win10, Chrome user.

  20. James Joyner says:

    @James Joyner: Name and Email retained after first manual input.