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Posted: 10/14/2002 6:03:36 AM EDT
[url]http://www.suntimes.com/output/brown/cst-nws-brown08.html[/url]
Heed the rants of gun nuts before you vote October 8, 2002 BY MARK BROWN SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST The gun nuts have forgotten to take their medication again. Usually, I wouldn't call them gun nuts. It's impolite in the first place, and in the second place, they all own guns--which come to think of it, probably ought to be the first place. But they got on my nerves Monday when I opened up the latest issue of Gun News Roundup, the electronic newsletter of the Illinois State Rifle Association. In Roundup offerings that were nuttier than usual, the rifle association suggested that the recent sniper killings in Maryland may have been committed as part of an anti-gun conspiracy, while it also attacked a gun control rally held in Chicago on Monday by belittling shooting victims and their families as well as children who enter an anti-violence writing contest. Do you need any more reason to vote against candidates in the November election who courted this bunch, especially anyone who has failed to repudiate their campaign support? I don't. I wouldn't want the gun nuts to feel that I had unfairly portrayed their views, so I will quote the items in their entirety. Here's the first: "Of course, most of you have heard about the sniper killings in Maryland this week. And, as expected, the gun grabbers are blaming law-abiding firearm owners for the carnage. Squawks include demands that centerfire rifles be placed under Class III jurisdiction," states the Roundup. "Far be it from us to advance conspiracy theories, but the timing of this sniper activity is unsettling,'' the newsletter continues. "Maryland has one of the hottest governor's races in the country, certainly hotter than that in Illinois. The central theme of the Maryland race is gun control. Things heat up. There is this off the wall series of sniper killings. Murder made to order for the antigunners. Hmmm, weren't there some other high-profile mass gun killings at strangely convenient times?" Richard Pearson, president of the Illinois State Rifle Association, told me he didn't write the newsletter, but he defended its implication that "antigunners" and "gun-grabbers" may have fomented the murders to advance their political cause. "There does seem to be some strange correlation. We wonder about these things some time. We know how unscrupulous the other side can be. There are all kinds of theories like that," Pearson said. You wonder which theories they're holding back from us. The second item of interest to me concerned Monday's rally by the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence. The council advocates stricter regulation of the manufacture and sale of guns, which the rifle association doesn't appreciate. The organization holds an annual writing and art contest for students. This year's theme was "Why I don't need a gun to feel safe." Here is what the rifle association had to say about the gathering. "The state's largest gun-grabbing group will hold its yearly group-grope on the Federal Plaza on Monday. Certainly all the antigun politicians will be there tripping all over each other to see who will portray themselves as being the most antigun. Intermixed with all the damning statements about the NRA (most of the folks in the crowd can't even spell NRA) will be silly awards for silly poems and a sappy story from some mom whose honor student kid was gunned down at 3 a.m. on his way home from the library to choir practice. "Of course, we'll hear how the little angel wanted to be a doctor. Question, how come all these dead kids wanted to be doctors? Obviously, wanting to be a doctor is the problem, not guns." Pearson didn't see any problem with this either, blaming its tone on past rallies conducted by the council at which protesters from the rifle association were "shoved around by Chicago police." And he claimed that a past shooting victim highlighted at the rally turned out to have been "shot by police in a drug deal." He couldn't provide a name. The point of the crack about shooting victims having wanted to become doctors, Pearson explained, is that "all children have bright futures, not just these children." Pearson wasn't among the dozen or so gun rights advocates who were on hand Monday to protest Cheryl Vargas' "sappy story." Vargas, of Oak Park, told how her son, David, was shot and killed July 5, 2001, by his best friend. The friend was messing with a gun that he didn't realize was loaded. David, who was 17 and heading into his senior year at Oak Park and River Forest High School when he died, had applied to attend Miami University this fall. He had no plans to become a doctor. He wasn't sure what he was going to do. The gun nuts could probably find plenty of reasons to blame Vargas for his own death, too. He and his friend were doing drugs and alcohol at the home of another friend in Wicker Park, his mom said. The gun belonged to the father of one of the young men, who had been showing off his weaponry collection. Vargas should have left. He didn't. The Illinois State Rifle Association's political arm is selling raffle tickets for a Browning Gold Hunter 12-gauge shotgun. Proceeds go to support its endorsed list of pro-gun candidates. The group's top priority is to elect Joe Birkett, the Republican candidate for attorney general, the same guy who recently became the beneficiary of a $750,000 independent expenditure ad campaign conducted by another gun nut group against his opponent. That sure helped me make up my mind about how to vote on that one. E-mail: markbrown@suntimes.com
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Link Posted: 10/14/2002 6:16:50 AM EDT
I fart in Mark Browns general direction.
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