Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), a member of the Democratic Party’s leadership in the House of Representatives, suggested to Jason Mattera at a Feb. 13 women’s rights rally that plans for an assault weapons ban and private-sales background checks were only the beginning of a broader gun control agenda extending to handguns as well.
Schakowsky evidently did not recognize Mattera, a conservative video journalist and senior investigative reporter for Talk Radio Network, who infamously confronted Vice President Joe Biden in the Capitol. (Mattera introduced himself to Schakowsky by name but did not indicate that he was filming or that he is conservative.) She spoke to Mattera as if he were a fellow gun control enthusiast–and Mattera played along, eliciting answers about Schakowsky’s enthusiasm for gun control.
“We want everything on the table,” Schakowsky told Mattera. “This is a moment of opportunity. There’s no question about it.”
One poignant exchange was as follows:
Schakowsky: We’re on a roll now, and I think we’ve got to take the–you know, we’re gonna push as hard as we can and as far as we can.
Mattera: So the assault weapons ban is just the beginning?
Schakowsky: Oh absolutely. I mean, I’m against handguns. We have, in Illinois, the Council Against Handgun… something [Violence]. Yeah, I’m a member of that. So, absolutely.
In another exchange, Schakowsky proposed allowances for states and municipalities to ban guns–though such laws have been repeatedly rejected by the Supreme Court:
Mattera: We’ll never get a handgun ban with the Second Amendment as stated.
Schakowsky: I don’t know. I don’t know that we can’t. And there may be an allowance, once again, for communities–I have communities in my district that prohibited handguns within their borders. The rights of municipalities and states to view that as a sensible way to keep people safe–I don’t think it’s precluded.
When Mattera asked why legislators were not pressing for a handgun ban, given that most murders are committed with handguns, Schakowsky replied: “Because we’re not going to be able to win that. Not now.” She went on to explain why background checks were a useful interim policy, arguing that they would “address any kind of weapon.”
Schakowsky’s remarks about plans for broader gun control are not the first time she has revealed the long-term goal behind short-term policy debates. She has a tendency to do so when speaking to apparently sympathetic audiences. In 2009, she told a crowd that the goal of Obamacare would be to “put the private insurance industry out of business.”
Officially, Democrats–including Schakowsky–hew to the party line as laid down by the president, which pledges support for the Second Amendment and for gun ownership in rural communities where hunting and shooting are viewed as traditional pastimes.
Gun owners fear that the Sandy Hook-inspired gun control measures before Congress–none of which would have stopped the mass shooting at Sandy Hook–are a prelude to broader regulations, including the banning of handguns and the eventual registration and confiscation of firearms, despite earnest assurances by Democrats to the contrary.
The Democratic Party has taken a hard line on guns recently, with President Obama’s strategist, David Axelrod, joining New York mayor Michael Bloomberg in backing gun control enthusiast Rep. Robin Kelly (D-IL) over former Rep. Debbie Halvorson, who has an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association, in the recent primary to replace former Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. of Illinois. Kelly has promised to be a “leader” in “banning guns.”