Once upon a time, Rudy Giuliani said, "Someone who now voted to roll back the assault-weapons ban would really be demonstrating that special-interest politics mean more to them than life-or-death issues." Indeed, when the GOP Congress let the Clinton-era assault-weapons ban expire in 2004, Giuliani was among the high-profile Republican critics to denounce the move. The availability of assault weapons like AK-47s at gun shows and gun shops has emerged as a major concern for U.S. law enforcement grappling with terrorism in the post-9/11 era. Giuliani's commitment to limiting access to assault weapons, however, apparently evaporated this week when he came to Seattle to stump for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Mike McGavick, who's running against Democrat Maria Cantwell.
Speaking to a group of reporters at the Sheraton Hotel downtown, where he was hosting a $1,000—$2,100-a-plate fundraiser for McGavick on Monday, October 9, Giuliani said this: "I don't think [the assault-weapons ban] is one of the most critical issues right now."
The issue came up because I asked Giuliani what he thought about the fact that McGavick—who stood by Giuliani's side in front of plush red curtains as cameras flashed—didn't support the assault-weapons ban. (McGavick, who scored an "A" on the NRA's candidate ratings, has told crowds in Eastern Washington that he's against any further restrictions on gun ownership. Indeed, when I asked McGavick on Monday if he was against the assault-weapons ban, he told me, "That's accurate.")
Well, here's how Giuliani answered my question: "The assault-weapons ban is something I supported in the past." Since he supports McGavick now, I guess "special-interest politics"—or more aptly, partisan politics—have swept aside what he once saw as a matter of "life or death."
What's most galling about Giuliani's flip-flop on assault weapons is that his pro-McGavick stump speech was squarely focused on homeland security. "We need senators who understand that we have to be on offense against terrorism," he said. "Cantwell's ambiguous support for the effort against terrorism probably concerns me more than anything else."
For someone who claims to be so vigilant, Giuliani's shirking of his commitment to regulating AK-47s (which you can currently buy in about 15 minutes at Butch's Gun Shop on Aurora Avenue North, according to a salesperson there) is laughable.
An al Qaeda manual entitled How Can I Train Myself for Jihad, found by United States Special Forces in the ruins of a training camp in Afghanistan (and posted on a suspected terrorist's website in 2004), tellingly singles out the United States for its easy availability of firearms, and stipulates that al Qaeda members living in the U.S. "obtain an assault weapon legally, preferably an AK-47 or variations."
At the Sheraton, Giuliani said Cantwell's vote against Bush's military tribunals bill (the bill iced habeas corpus and gave the president the discretion to violate the Geneva Conventions) "indicated a lack of understanding of what's needed to protect us against the terrorist threat."
A lack of conviction won't protect us against the terrorist threat either, and Giuliani certainly abandoned his at McGavick's fundraiser.