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Thursday, September 09, 2004
 
White House Prefers Reaction to Preemption

Over at First Draft, Holden's gaggle obsession brings to light a little exchange, in which Scott McClellan explains why the president supports the renewal of the assault weapons ban without actually, uh, supporting it.

Q The assault weapons ban expires in just a few days. Can you list for us the many things the President might be doing to encourage Congress to send him the bill that he said he would sign?

MR. McCLELLAN: The President's views have been made very clear, and the best way we can reduce crimes committed with guns is to strictly enforce our laws. And prosecutions under this administration are up. I think it's -- well, it's more than 60 percent -- I think 68 percent over the previous administration. That's the best way to crack down on crimes committed with guns. That's an important issue here in terms of the assault weapons ban. He's made his views very well-known.

***

Q What is he doing to actively make sure -- is he doing anything to make sure he --

MR. McCLELLAN: The President doesn't set the congressional timetable.

Q No, but he can lobby for it.

MR. McCLELLAN: Congress sets the timetable. And the President's views are very clear.

Q Has he made any calls or anything to encourage this to happen?

MR. McCLELLAN: What we've continued to do -- because this issue does go to the issue of crimes committed with guns, as well -- and what we've continued to do is step up our efforts to prosecute crimes committed with guns and strictly enforce our laws. And that's the best way we can deter violence committed with guns.

(Emphasis added)


In addition to saying that, although the assault weapons ban is irrelevant to the president's strategy to reduce gun violence, he supports it anyway, McClellan also announced a huge shift in White House philosophy: preemption is not the best way to deal with potential violence; punishing those who commit violent acts after the fact is.

Maybe the administration learned something from the disaster in Iraq, in which WMD program-related activities were held up as sufficient justification for our full-scale invasion of the country. If so, the change would go a long way toward explaining our actions with regard to WMDs in North Korea and Iran.

On the other hand, it could just be a cynincal abandonment of principle for the benefit of the gun lobby.