Legal Advisor Nominee Advocates Global Gun Control

Last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nomination of Harold Koh, a former Dean of the Yale Law School, to be Legal Advisor to the State Department. One of the many concerns with Koh is his belief that international organizations should be empowered to regulate the Second Amendment right to own a firearm.

On April 2, 2002, Koh gave a speech to the Fordham University School of Law titled “A World Drowning in Guns” where he mapped out his vision of global gun control. Koh advocated an international “marking and tracing regime.” He complained that “the United States is now the major supplier of small arms in the world, yet the United States and its allies do not trace their newly manufactured weapons in any consistent way.” Koh advocated a U.N.-governed regime to force the U.S. “to submit information about their small arms production.”

Koh supports the idea that the U.N. should be granted the power “to standardize national laws and procedures with member states of regional organizations.” Koh feels that U.S. should “establish a national firearms control system and a register of manufacturers, traders, importers and exporters” of guns to comply with international obligations. This regulatory regime would allow U.N. members such as Cuba, Venezuela, North Korea and Iran to have a say in what type of gun regulations are imposed on American citizens.

Taken to their logical conclusion, Koh’s ideas could lead to a national database of all firearm owners, as well as the use of international law to force the U.S. to pass laws to find out who owns guns. All who care about freedom should read his speech (pdf). Senators need to think long and hard about whether Koh’s extreme views on international gun control are appropriate for America.

FDA Regulation of Tobacco

As if the federal government weren’t interfering enough in your daily decisions, now officials want to greatly expand the FDA’s regulatory power over tobacco. The House has passed a bill that would, among other things, allow the FDA to regulate nicotine and mandate more warnings about the health risks of tobacco. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) is spoiling for a fight when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid schedules a vote on the bill. Let’s hope others join the fight against an ever-expanding federal government.

The First Amendment Under Attack

Many conservatives are aware of the now-infamous DHS report on “rightwing extremism” — as well they should be. This report said that the possible passage of gun control legislation, the election of the first African American president, the economic downturn and the return of military veterans could lead to domestic terrorism: “Rightwing extremism in the United States … may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single, issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.” This report serves to demonize many elements of the conservative movement by characterizing them as potential radical domestic terrorists.

Sens. David Vitter (R-La.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) have introduced a resolution requesting that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano issue a formal apology to the nation’s military personnel and veterans whom the report deems extremist because they are pro-life and/or hold other conservative views. It’s an outrage that those who served this country honorably in Iraq and Afghanistan would be scrutinized by federal officials. Conservatives should be wary that the federal government may be monitoring conservative groups who differ with the president on policy grounds.

Energy Tax Hikes

This week, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and his top climate deputy, Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) will try to advance the innocuously named American Climate and Energy Security Act (ACES). The bill, a de-facto energy tax, would undermine America’s economic recovery and punish low- and middle-income families with staggering electricity price hikes.

A handful of moderate Democrats have joined Republicans to oppose such a scheme. The key difference is that, according to Roll Call, Waxman and Markey are meeting with hesitant Democrats members to find a bill that protects their own districts. This amounts to picking winners and losers behind closed doors, giving the politically connected a chance to avoid (if only for a year or two) the massive economic harm likely to occur.

President Obama has spoken eloquently about the need for transparency. Americans should demand similar, if not greater, transparency from Reps. Markey and Waxman. If they’re going to pick winners and losers, they should do so openly.