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Posted: 8/19/2004 8:41:24 AM EST
Republicans Head to Convention Divided on Gun Ban

By Robert B. Bluey
CNSNews.com Staff Writer
August 19, 2004

(CNSNews.com) - If there's one issue on which Republicans usually agree, it's their strong defense of the Second Amendment. But less than two weeks before the GOP convention, moderates and conservatives find themselves at odds over the soon-to-expire semi-automatic gun ban.

In a clash with pro-gun Republicans, President Bush has publicly supported the ban on so-called "assault weapons" dating back to his 2000 presidential campaign. Although he hasn't actively pushed for an extension of the 1994 law, his spokesmen consistently reaffirm his support for it.

The law would sunset Sept. 13 without action from Congress. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives have refused to bring up the matter for debate, and with only four working days left before it expires, even the law's supporters acknowledge it is doomed.

At the same time, however, a band of moderate Republicans have stood in stark opposition to their more conservative colleagues in House leadership posts. They believe enough Republicans would join with Democrats to send a bill to the president's desk.

The Republican-controlled Senate has already voted 52-47 to extend the ban, thanks in part to 10 Republicans who broke ranks. Because the March 2 vote came in the form of an amendment to another bill, the legislation was later voted down in an effort to defeat the measure.

Differences of opinion among Republicans existed in 1994 at the time Congress approved the ban. As a result of that vote, former President Bill Clinton estimated it cost 20 Democrats their jobs, giving Republicans control of Congress.

Political observers disagree whether the stakes are as high today, but both gun-control advocates and Second Amendment supporters suggested Bush ought to tread carefully.

"President Bush has made some key mistakes, such as saying he would sign an extension of the gun ban," said Erich Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, which has voiced some of the most stringent criticism of Bush as a result of his support for the ban.

By essentially staking out the same stance as his Democrat challenger, Sen. John Kerry, Bush has hurt his reputation with gun owners, Pratt said.

"The president has almost shot himself in the foot in that he has taken away one of the huge magnets that pulled Democratic voters over to his side of the fence," Pratt told CNSNews.com.

Gun-control groups like Americans for Gun Safety have made much of Bush's support for extending the ban. One of its advisers, Matt Bennett, said there's little difference between Bush and Kerry as a result.

"On the major issues of the day, Kerry and Bush are virtually identical in at least what they say about the gun issue," Bennett told CNSNews.com. "Bush has said he supports extending the assault weapons ban, he said he supports closing the gun-show loophole, he said he supports cracking down on gun crime. These are the things Kerry talks about when it comes to guns."

That's what Pratt said worries him, especially if voters buy into that argument. It's not as much of a concern for the National Rifle Association, which downplayed the gun ban's impact on the presidential race.

"We actually don't think it will play a big role in the election because we're cautiously optimistic that it will sunset on Sept. 13," said Kelly Hobbs, the NRA's spokeswoman.

But those on the other side of the gun debate see things differently. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a leading advocate of renewing the ban, has predicted a backlash against Bush should he not actively campaign for an extension before Sept. 13.

"If it is allowed to expire, it will be President Bush's fault, and we'll let people know that," said Chad Ramsey, a regional director for the Brady Campaign. "He is responsible. It will have expired on his watch. If that's the case, there will be a backlash. People will be angry he let this happen, and people will probably show up at the voting booth with that in mind."

Republicans, meanwhile, aren't saying much. CNSNews.com was unable to reach any of the House moderates who have signed onto legislation to extend the ban. The most outspoken advocate, Rep. Mike Castle (R-Del.), recently held a press conference with Jim and Sarah Brady.

Other House Republican who have bucked their party to support the ban include Reps. Doug Bereuter (Neb.), Tom Davis (Va.), Michael Ferguson (N.J.), Nancy Johnson (Conn.), Peter King (N.Y.), Mark S. Kirk (Ill.), Jack Quinn (N.Y.), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (Fla.) and Christopher Shays (Conn.).

The more conservative House leaders, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), have expressed little desire to bring up the matter for a vote.

In the Senate, the Republican defectors include Sens. Lincoln Chafee (R.I.), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike DeWine (Ohio), Peter Fitzgerald (Ill.), Judd Gregg (N.H.), Richard Lugar (Ind.), Gordon Smith (Ore.), Olympia Snowe (Maine), George Voinovich (Ohio) and John Warner (Va.).

"It is a divisive issue within the Republican Party ... between the moderates and conservatives," said Rob Recklaus, spokesman for Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), who has championed the issue. "It has to do a lot with the NRA leadership, which has the ear of the conservative wing of the Republican Party."

On the issue of the gun ban, however, Bush has strayed from his traditional conservative base. In Pratt's view, it would be best if the president kept his stance under wraps.

"I do think Bush is on one side of it and House leaders are on the other, but that being said, I don't really think it's an issue," Pratt said. "I don't think the president has a desire to push it. I don't think this is an important enough issue for the president. What he has said can only hurt him, but certainly, it won't hurt him as bad if he started actively pushing it."
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 9:19:56 AM EST
btt
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 9:41:39 AM EST
Well, it was a stupid move by Rove or Bush or whoever dreamed it up... the Bradys will still blame him for not extending the law and now as a bonus he won't get the credit he deserves from gun owners either because of his statements in support.

They should have realized that nobody who was going to vote based on whether or not that ban sunsetted was going to vote for him anyway and emphasized the bold stand he was taking for gunowners.
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 9:52:11 AM EST
Meanwhile, tic toc tic toc
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 9:53:48 AM EST
Good read!
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 10:02:39 AM EST
Freedom's carriage is approaching!
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 10:10:03 AM EST
Why is it that all of the shithead Republicans mentioned in the article all hail from states east of the Mississippi?
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 10:18:09 AM EST

Originally Posted By imposter:
Why is it that all of the shithead Republicans mentioned in the article all hail from states east of the Mississippi?


One of those RINOs here in VA.... F*#$@^g Warner!
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 10:25:58 AM EST

Originally Posted By Bartholomew_Roberts:
Well, it was a stupid move by Rove or Bush or whoever dreamed it up... the Bradys will still blame him for not extending the law and now as a bonus he won't get the credit he deserves from gun owners either because of his statements in support.

They should have realized that nobody who was going to vote based on whether or not that ban sunsetted was going to vote for him anyway and emphasized the bold stand he was taking for gunowners.



THey do realize that nobody who is really in favor of the ban would be voting for him anyway.

They also realize that taking a strong anti AWB stance would allow the media to start a whole shitstorm against him. Alll they have now is "he's not living up to his promise" which everyone knows is bullshit because he never promised to actively push for it.

Do I like it that he didnt show a strong anti AWB stance? no, but its political reality.

And what he said is not going to cost him gun votes.... Unless of course it does get extended, that will cost him votes.
Link Posted: 8/19/2004 10:26:49 AM EST

"If it is allowed to expire, it will be President Bush's fault, and we'll let people know that," said Chad Ramsey, a regional director for the Brady Campaign. "He is responsible. It will have expired on his watch. If that's the case, there will be a backlash. People will be angry he let this happen, and people will probably show up at the voting booth with that in mind."



As usual, empty threats. Thanks to McCain-Feingold, the Brady Bunch won't be able to say Jack-Shit once the ban expires! Why? Because McCain -Feingold halts all 3rd party advertising 60 days before the election. In this case, the cut off is September 2nd!

Link Posted: 8/19/2004 11:07:46 AM EST

Originally Posted By JeffersonDarcy:
And what he said is not going to cost him gun votes....



Not if you believe some of the people posting around here.
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