President Bush has "botched" the assault-gun issue by prematurely banning foreign-made models of the rapid-fire weapons, said Sen. Orrin Hatch.
The Utah Republican also criticized two bills that would ban the sale and importation of semiautomatics. He said the legislation was an assault on the Second Amendment rights of hunters who use such guns for target practice and in competitions.Hatch made his comment one day after the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, by a 5-to-1 vote Wednesday, sent two anti-assault-gun bills to the full Judiciary Committee.
The Utah senator was the only member of the subcommittee to vote against advancing the measures. Bush has not taken a position on the bills.
Hatch said the two bills' definition of semiautomatic guns "is so ambiguous that it could lead to the banning and control of a lot of sportsmen's weapons. And I know once we open that door, if it's not opened precisely and properly, we're going to wind up with Second Amendment rights and privileges completely taken away."
The subcommittee advanced a bill sponsored by Metzenbaum, D-Ohio, that would ban the sale and importation of at least 25 specific assault guns and any others that are identical or nearly identical to those weapons.
The other bill, authored by Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., would ban the sale and importation of at least nine assault weapons and any others that are identical or nearly identical.
Hatch said "thousands and thousands of Utahns would be appalled with either of those bills because of the breadth of definition and the ambiguity of definition that will lead the feds back here to interpret everything against the sportsperson."