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There’s much talk about the various ingredients lawmakers and the executive are using to make the sausage called the budget, reportedly to be delivered and voted on late Friday. Expect it to be a disappointment, and you won’t be disappointed. Politico reports that gun control provisions will be part of it, but those reports are lean on specifics. One item in the mix is Republicans offering to ditch the Dickey Amendment. Doing so could help significantly restrict gun rights in America.
In the mid-nineties, the Clinton administration was in a full court press on gun control. We had Ruby Ridge, Waco, and the “assault weapons” ban, and it seemed to many gun owners that they were in a fight for their gun-owning lives against the Clintons. Before Barak Obama managed to politicize every gear, spoke, and wheel of the federal government in service to his will, Bill Clinton was trying his hand at the same. Instead of simply attacking the issue, and setting out to change hearts and minds, Clinton’s offensive included using the Department of Justice to threaten suits against gun companies for the criminal acts of some gun owners and directing the Department of Housing and Urban Development to sue manufacturers.
Another front in Clinton’s war on guns was the use of the CDC to provide ammunition for further restrictions on Americans’ rights to keep and bear arms. Bill Clinton was a politician who loudly proclaimed his support for the Second Amendment while simultaneously seeming to never reject a single gun-control proposal as insufficiently protective of the peoples’ rights. Gun owners feared continued assaults on their rights from all offices of the federal government. If you’re using HUD funds to advance gun control, what’s off limits?
With strong support from the NRA, another Arkansas politician, Congressman Jay Dickey was able to insert a provision into 1996’s omnibus spending bill (only 1.6 trillion!) to restrict the allocated funds. It simply required “none of the funds made available for injury prevention and control at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) may be used to advocate or promote gun control.” You won’t have to look hard for dozens of stories that claim Dickey bans the CDC or federal government from doing research on gun violence. Well, you re-read that restriction. Is that what it says?
The provision was and is a simple self-defense tool to prevent gun grabbing politicians from using an office and personnel of the federal government as lobbyists for gun control.
Leave aside the fact that the Constitution does not authorize Congress to spend money on health studies or promote policy changes. Donald Trump will not be president forever. What would President Obama have done without the Dickey Amendment in place? What will President Elizabeth Warren or Gavin Newsom do without it? Those who defend the right to keep and bear arms must suspect that they will weaponize that office to provide political coverage for increased gun control laws.