2/01 Ashcroft Confirmation: Rhetorical Lessons

Ashcroft Confirmation: Rhetorical Lessons
Larry Pratt

One of the most decent men ever to come to Washington was treated by the Democrats as if he threatened the social order and the Constitution itself.

Among those in the lynch mob were the strident voices of Handgun Control, Inc. Now, HCI’s hysteria might have been understandable if John Ashcroft were an assault-rifle waving militia maniac — if there is such a person.

But Ashcroft’s record on guns in the Senate was actually quite middle of the road. Indeed, Gun Owners of America graded the Senator with a C-. He earned such an anemic grade by voting to shut down gun shows and criminalize even the touching of a gun by someone under the age of 21.

On a non-binding resolution sponsored by Barbara Boxer to free up the gun control bill that was stuck in the Senate, Boxer actually went to the Senate floor waving a letter from GOA. She was incensed that we refused to go along with her compromise. Only five Republicans agreed with Boxer, among them John Ashcroft.

That being said, it is all the more surprising that Ashcroft was likened by HCI Chairman, former Congressman Michael Barnes, to Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber. In case you are wondering what in the world Mr. Barnes and HCI were thinking, I will tell you right now.

Sen. Ashcroft had in the past said that he understood the Second Amendment to be a protection of an individual right intended by the founding fathers to insure that the people had the means to resist tyranny in government.

This view was labeled by the Honorable Mr. Barnes as the “widely discredited, extremist insurrectionist view of the Second Amendment” held by Timothy McVeigh.

I was amazed to hear what HCI was doing to the history of our country. They have brazenly attempted to link the views of a terrorist to the beliefs of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

Consider these words from the Declaration of Independence, penned by Jefferson and unanimously approved by the other 55 signers of the document:

    “whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends [unalienable rights], it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it… [W]hen a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government….”

What are we to think of an organization that thinks that the American Declaration of Independence is a terrorist document? If Handgun Control had had it their way, we all would still be British subjects of a tyrannical crown!

HCI is so far from the mainstream of American history that they fail to see that it was the British who were the terrorists — they shot women and children — and worse. It was the Continental Army and the American militia who fought a defensive war. But then, HCI is against personal self defense, too.