ALEXANDRIA , VA Earlier this month in an interview with Revolt TV, Libertarian vice presidential candidate and former Republican governor of Massachusetts, Bill Weld, compared rifles to weapons of mass destruction, upsetting many Libertarian voters in the process.”The five-shot rifle, that’s a standard military rifle; the problem is if you attach a clip to it so it can fire more shells and if you remove the pin so that it becomes an automatic weapon, and those are independent criminal offense,” said Weld in the interview. “That is when they become, essentially, a weapon of mass destruction. The problem with handguns probably is even worse than the problem of the AR-15.”The problem with the statement is twofold, facing criticism from gun experts and Libertarians alike.According to Bob Owens, editor of BearingArms.com, the statement is replete with factual inaccuracies. “The last five-shot rifle issued to the United States military as a ‘standard military rifle’ was the 1903 Springfield which was phased out in 1936,” said Owens. “Sadly, after dumping on common rifles in such a mind-numbingly stupid way showing that he knows less about firearms than virtually any politician in the United States today (and that’s saying a lot), Weld then goes on to attack handguns, suggesting that he’d be in favor of banning them as well.”The notion that the Libertarian vice presidential candidate is in favor of tightened gun control runs is something that does not sit well with many Libertarian voters, as the movement is built upon less government control in the lives of individuals.”Guns are not the problem,” states the issues page for the Libertarian party. “They are inanimate objects. Gun control advocates talk as if guns could act on their own, as if human beings cannot control them, so the uncontrollable guns must be banished. Let us put the responsibility where it belongs, on the owner and user of the gun.”This is not the first instance in the 2016 presidential campaign that the Libertarian ticket has made statements counter to the liberty credo.In an interview with the Washington Examiner at the Democratic National Convention in late July, Libertarian presidential nominee and former governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson, indicated he was uncomfortable with movements to protect religious freedom regarding the denial of service based on religious grounds or violations of conscience.”I just see religious freedom, as a category, of just being a black hole,” said Johnson.”If we allow for discrimination, if we pass a law that allows for discrimination on the basis of religion; literally, we’re gonna open up a can of worms.”Here again, the Libertarian candidate for president expresses unease in protecting freedoms of conscience tied directly to the first amendment in the Bill of Rights, and a plank in in the Libertarian Party platform.”We favor the freedom to engage in or abstain from any religious activities that do not violate the rights of others,” says the official Libertarian Party platform. “We oppose government actions which either aid or attack any religion.”In an election cycle in which the two main parties’ candidates suffer high negatives, lending support to third party candidacies like the Libertarian ticket, further statements from Johnson and Weld that run counter to their party platform may have ideological liberty voters wondering if they have a principled option at all in 2016.
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