Anti-Gun Group Launches Ashcroft Watchdog Website

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - The Violence Policy Center announced Wednesday it has launched a new Website to monitor what it calls the "pro-gun activities and gun lobby ties" of Attorney General John Ashcroft. The VPC, which describes itself as a gun control think tank, said it would also monitor Ashcroft's enforcement of current gun laws.

VPC Legislative Director Kristen Rand said in a statement, "NRA member Ashcroft promised at his confirmation hearing that he would defend our nation's gun laws. But in his letter to the NRA, the Attorney General espouses a view, on official U.S. Justice Department stationery, wholly inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and longstanding Justice Department policy."

Rand added, "Will John Ashcroft enforce our nation's gun laws? Not according to this official letter. Attorney General Ashcroft's pandering missive to the NRA is the first step towards the dismantling of our nation's gun laws."

In a letter last week to the National Rifle Association, Ashcroft said that the Justice Department has taken the position that the Second Amendment "protects the private ownership of firearms for lawful purposes." His letter was read to NRA members attending the group's convention in Kansas City by James Jay Baker, the head of the NRA's lobbying arm.

Ashcroft wrote, "As I was reminded during my confirmation hearing, some hold a different view and would, in effect, read the Second Amendment out of the Constitution. I must respectfully disagree with this view, for when I was sworn in as Attorney General of the United States, I took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. That responsibility applies to all parts of the Constitution, including the Second Amendment."

The Violence Policy Center is among those advocating the view that the Second Amendment does not give individuals an absolute constitutional right to "keep and bear arms" apart from the need to ensure a "well-regulated militia."

The website is