If confirmed as President Obama’s next secretary of defense, former Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., would deal with hot spots such as Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. But you might be surprised to learn he could also play a pivotal role in the roiling gun control debate. In fact, Slate contributor Sam Kleiner writes Hagel could single-handedly do more to advance gun control than anyone else.
In 2005, with the full backing of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Congress passed the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.” Kleiner told Jansing & Co. the bill was unprecedented. “It blocked states and cities from being able to bring lawsuits against gun manufacturers. When this bill was passed, [NRA chief] Wayne LaPierre came out and said this was one of the biggest pro-gun legislation accomplishments in 20 years.”
Rumsfeld argued the law was needed to protect national security because the gun manufactures supplied the troops. But Kleiner writes that no other industry that supplies the Pentagon has such an immunity. “Chuck Hagel is someone who we really don’t think about as someone who could be a leader on gun control, but he’s actually going to be instrumental in making sure that gun control is something that happens.”