New NRA Talking Point: Banning Assault Weapons Is Just Like Racial Discrimination

Former National Rifle Association president Marion Hammer compared a proposal by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) to ban assault weapons to racial discrimination. According to Hammer, “banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again. The color of a gun. The way it looks. It's just bad politics.”

Hammer's comparison came during a discussion on NRA News about Sen. Feinstein's plans to introduce legislation to ban assault weapons during the new Congress. Hammer warned that the United States government could engage in firearm confiscation “in order to control the masses.”

HAMMER: Well we've tried to tell people that in order to control the masses they have to take your guns. We saw it in Cuba. I mean we have so many Cuban-Americans who understand. But there are just too many people who don't believe it can happen here. And I hope they are right, but in order to keep it from happening here it's going to be a massive, expensive and long fight.

GINNY SIMONE, HOST: And it sure is. And we'll see what happens as things move along because Feinstein says she is going to move pretty quickly on this. So, as you said, it's all going to unfold pretty quickly.

HAMMER: Yep, and the bill that she passed in '95 [the 1994 assault weapons ban] pales by comparison to what she is trying to do now.

SIMONE: Absolutely.

HAMMER: She is invigorated by the tragedy. She believes that America will swing with her. And it's going to be a big fight, Ginny.

SIMONE: And they even admit this is about banning the ugliest guns, it's about cosmetics and it has nothing to do about how a firearm works.

HAMMER: Well, you know, banning people and things because of the way they look went out a long time ago. But here they are again. The color of a gun. The way it looks. It's just bad politics.

Host Ginny Simone's claim that the proposed ban is about “banning the ugliest guns” is plainly false. According to Sen. Feinstein, the impetus for the ban is the capability of assault weapons, explaining in a December 17 press release that her legislation would target “the most dangerous guns”:

I have been working with my staff for over a year on this legislation," Feinstein added. “It will be carefully focused on the most dangerous guns that have killed so many people over the years while protecting the rights of gun owners by exempting hundreds of weapons that fall outside the bill's scope. We must take these dangerous weapons of war off our streets.”

The NRA has not shied away from comparing gun regulations to past instances of discrimination. In August, the NRA issued a press release that compared a decision by the University of Colorado to house students who wish to carry guns on campus in their own dormitory to the infamous 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v. Ferguson, which laid the groundwork for racist “separate but equal” laws. NRA News host Cam Edwards struck a similar tone on his show regarding the University of Colorado policy, stating, “We are back to segregation now.”

Hammer has remained an active member of NRA leadership since serving as president of the organization between 1995 and 1998. In her capacity as the organization's primary lobbyist in Florida, Hammer was reportedly instrumental in the 2005 enactment of the NRA-drafted “Kill At Will” law in that state. Testifying before a task force to examine the law after it was connected to the shooting death of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Hammer stated that the NRA was “proud to have been a part of the process” in enacting the law.