A leading luminary of the neoconservative movement has raised eyebrows and ire among conservatives by opining that Americans don't have the right to own military-style assault rifles.
In the wake of the shootings that left 12 dead and 59 wounded at a cinema in Aurora, Colorado Saturday, William Kristol, co-founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, the most prominent neoconservative publication, appeared on Fox News on Sunday and split with the majority of his fellow conservatives on the issue of gun control.
"People have a right to handguns and hunting rifles," Kristol told Fox host Chris Wallace. "I don't think they have a right to semi-automatic, quasi-machine guns that can be used to shoot a hundred bullets at a time."
Kristol then criticized Democrats for not having more spine on the issue of gun control.
"The Democrats are being [as] foolish as they're being cowardly," he said. "I think there is more support for some moderate forms of gun control if they separated clearly from a desire to take away everyone's handguns or rifles."
Kristol also faulted President Barack Obama for being "unwilling to take a strong stance."
Indeed, while some Democrats, notably Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), whose husband was shot and killed during a 1993 massacre at a Long Island railroad station, have called for robust gun control action in the wake of the Aurora shootings, President Barack Obama responded to the Colorado tragedy by dismissing talk of new gun control laws.
"The president's view... is that he believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons," White House press secretary Jay Carney told ABC News aboard Air Force one as Obama traveled to Colorado on Sunday.
But any attempt at imposing stricter controls on even weapons of war, like machine guns, assault rifles and high capacity magazines which hold dozens or even hundreds of rounds, rankle most conservatives.
For example, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), a Tea Party favorite, fired back at critics urging a ban on high capacity magazines by asserting that owning 100-round drum magazine that could be used to mow down dozens of victims at once is a "basic freedom" protected by the Second Amendment.
Kristol's surprising stance on gun control clashes with some of his more militant beliefs. As a founding member of the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), he advocated total US world domination. PNAC's guiding document is a 2000 manifesto titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses," which called for the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein even before the September 11, 2001 terror attacks could be used as a pretext for regime change. A year before 9/11, PNAC also opined that a "Pearl Harbor event" would be good for America, enabling the expansion of US power and dominance around the globe.