Democrat White House Hopefuls Rarely Encourage the Anti-Gunners
November 10, 2003
by Joseph P. Tartaro
The reports are coming in from many news sources, including anti-gun newspapers such as The Washington Post. The skyline story on Page 1 of this issue discusses how some Democrat strategists and the anti-gun Americans for Gun Safety (AGS) are trying to keep the gun issue alive. But overall, there is little encouragement for the anti-gunners.
In an Oct. 26 report from Manchester, NH, where the first presidential primary will be held in late January, shortly after the Iowa caucus, The Posts Jim VandeHei said: Democratic presidential candidates are distancing themselves from tough gun control, reversing a decade of rhetoric and advocacy by the Democratic Party in favor of federal regulation of firearms.
Most Democratic White House hopefuls rarely highlight gun control in their campaigns, and none of the candidates who routinely poll near the top is calling for the licensing of new handgun owners, a central theme of then-Vice President Al Gores winning primary campaign in 2000, he continued.
Of course, the reasons are pretty plain. Gunowners cost Gore at least three traditionally Democratic states in the 2000 presidential election, in spite of his primary victory. And even former President Bill Clinton will concede that gunowners were largely responsible for voting to give the Republicans control of both houses of Congress after passage of the 1993 Brady Act and the 1994 semi-auto gun ban.
The Post article continues by citing the case of Howard Dean, the early front-runner this year. The Washington, DC, newspaper, said Dean proudly tells audiences that the National Rifle Association endorsed him as governor of Vermont. As president, Dean said he would leave most gun laws to the states. The federal government, Dean said in an interview here, should not inflict regulations on states such as Montana and Vermont, where gun crime is not a big problem. New York and California can have as much gun control as they want, but those statesand not the federal governmentshould make that determination, he said.
Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, a longtime gun control advocate, is careful to highlight his support for law-abiding gunowners, The Post continued. The Missouri Democrat said he is not interested in giving the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives more authority to investigate gun crimes, a top priority for the gun control activists. They have enough, he said in an interview.
What you are seeing . . . is a sea change from the 1990s, when President Bill Clinton and Gore championed several major gun lawsand paid a big political price for it, said Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the NRA, according to The Post.
Its very important for us as Democrats to understand that where I come from guns are about a lot more than guns themselves, said Sen. John Edwards (NC), one of nine Democrats seeking the presidency, The Post reported. They are about independence. For a lot of people who work hard for a living, one of the few things they feel they have any control over is whether they can buy a gun and hunt. They dont want people messing with that, which I understand.
The Post went on to point out that as the candidates survey the map for 2004, they find that most competitive states are home to thousands of hunters and other gunownersstates such as Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Mexico. Moreover, many of the gunowners in these swing states belong to labor unions, a base of the Democratic Party.
Based on NRA estimates, LaPierre said as much as three-quarters of union households in some targeted states include gun owners. Some union strategists have privately told the candidates that the only way to win in these states is to back off guns, The Post reported.
Some people see the sea change as merely an election year political stratagem which would be abandoned if the Democrats win the White House or either house of Congress. Certainly some rabidly anti-gun Democrats in Congressthe likes of Sens. Ted Kennedy (MA), Dianne Feinstein (CA), Charles Schumer (NY) and Frank Lautenberg (NJ)will never change, even if some of the Democratic strategists could keep them muzzled. In fact, even as this column is being written, that foursome is preparing to block any vote on S-659, the gun industry liability reform measure, by means of a filibuster.
While all this Democratic backing away from the gun issue rhetoriceven if only during the campaignsthe anti-gunners are having a hard time gaining any traction on television news or the front pages of newspapers. But they keep trying by generating news releases on an almost hourly basis. In fact, many of their statements deny that support for gun control is a dangerous political strategy.
A VPC Halloween
For example, Violence Policy Center (VPC) screamed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) is allowing the sale of a handgun disguised as a pen despite law enforcement warnings.
The US Justice Departments . . . (ATF) is allowing the sale to the general public of a small-caliber handgun disguised as a pendespite the clear public safety threat such pen guns represent, the VPC warned in an Oct. 28 news release.
The public safety threat posed by the Stinger Pengun is made clear in an October 2002 Officer Safety Bulletin regarding the weapon issued by the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations based at Andrews Air Force Base. The national alert was apparently distributed to government, military, and local law enforcement agencies. More recently, in August 2003, the Department of Homeland Security warned that terrorists might attempt to use ordinary items to conceal explosives or weaponswhich is the exact purpose of the pen gun, the VPC said, apparently after discovering the alert some 12 months after it was issuedfurther proof that the anti-gunners are grasping at straws.
The VPC release continued: Manufactured by Stinger Manufacturing Corporation in Sault Sainte Marie, MI, the Stinger Pengun is a single-shot pistol disguised as a pen. It is 5.6 inches long, weighs only five ounces when empty, and retails for $250. It is currently available in .17- and .22-caliber, and the companys website (www.stinger-pengun.com) promises that more calibers are Coming Soon! A past advertisement on the website states that the gun Transforms From A Pen To A Legal Pistol In 2 Seconds. Promised soon-to-be marketed accessories include an 18-inch sniper barrel and attachable heart dagger. Stinger also manufactures the Survivor Knifegun, a handgun concealed in a pocket knife with blade.
The VPC said that, according to Stinger, both guns have been approved for sale by ATF and under federal law are sold with only the same restrictions that apply to standard handguns.
While the VPC is finding Halloween frights, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and its vassal organization, the Million Mom March were commending two Democratic presidential hopefuls for standing up to the NRA.
Brady Bunch Help
In an Oct. 27 news release, Michael Barnes, president of the Brady operations issued the following statement commending Sen. John Kerry (MA) and Rep. Dennis Kucinichs (OH) comments on gun issues in Sundays (Oct. 26) presidential debate:
Senator John Kerry and Representative Dennis Kucinich demonstrated very strongly last night at the Democratic debates that candidates need to show they wont stand for the extremist gun lobbys assault on Americas basic gun safety protections. I want to commend the two candidates for using their concluding remarks to call attention to the radical efforts being pursued by the extreme gun lobby right now in our nations capitol. The gun lobbys push to end the ban on assault weapons and to secure sweeping legal immunity for the gun industry are shameful and should be stopped.
The Democrats might run from the Brady bunch and gun control, but they cant hide from them.
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