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Public Statements

Preserving the Right to Bear Arms

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WILLIAMS. Mr. Speaker, I am a proud supporter of the right to keep and bear arms. I am appalled by the President's attempts to erode our constitutional freedoms and impress his will by executive order. Our Founding Fathers would not have imagined that the right they listed second in the Bill of Rights, the right to bear arms, would be systematically attacked.

My opposition to what the President has proposed is based on the fact that his plan is not only unconstitutional, it is not effective. The Federal Government has tried a ban on these weapons before, and it did not work.

The National Institute of Justice states that "there has been no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence'' due to the 1994 assault weapons ban. Gun control laws do not make our communities safer. They do not take firearms from criminals but, rather, from law-abiding citizens.

Second, the phrase "assault weapons ban'' is a term of art. These are semiautomatic guns that essentially shoot the same kind of bullets as small-game hunting rifles. Simply put, these are hunting rifles made to look like a military gun. Banning it for cosmetic reasons doesn't make sense and won't save any more lives.

Third, banning large capacity magazines will do little to stop criminals. Any gun that uses a magazine can use a magazine of any size. That's true of rifles and handguns. So-called "assault weapons'' are not any different.

In the end, if the President wants to begin a national dialogue about stopping violence, he shouldn't start by taking away our rights as citizens. I am willing to work with the President and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to find a real solution to the challenges we face, but that solution will have to look at all the issues involved. But perhaps the most important part of the solution is restoring a culture of life in this country again.

May God bless America.

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