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Posted: 5/19/2003 3:19:00 AM EDT
The Wall Street Journal May 19, 2003 Backfire Editorial http://online.wsj.com/article/0,,SB10533073979322700,00.html It's no surprise that Republicans in Congress aren't eager to renew the ban on certain semiautomatic firearms due to expire next year. What's more interesting is why Democrats aren't raising much of a fuss about it. Our suspicion is that the left has learned the hard way that gun control is a political loser. The first signs came in 1994, after Bill Clinton successfully urged the Democrat-controlled House and Senate to pass legislation outlawing 19 types of "assault" weapons. In November of that year, several Democrats who had supported the ban, including then-House Speaker Tom Foley of Washington, were voted out of office in the Republican sweep. Mr. Clinton later said crossing gun owners cost his party more than 20 seats. In 1995, the House voted to repeal the ban, which wouldn't even have passed without a sunset provision, but the effort died in the Senate. Then came the red-state rout of 2000. Democratic political advisers like Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's presidential campaign, have acknowledged that the gun issue "played a large role" in Mr. Gore losing several rural states in 2000. Those include his home state of Tennessee, Arkansas and usually Democratic West Virginia. This probably explains why a Democratic presidential candidate such as Representative Dick Gephardt of Missouri, who pushed hard for the gun ban nine years ago, has been so quiet during the current debate. Most everyone save the party's urban liberal bloc -- folks like California's Dianne Feinstein, Michigan's John Conyers, New York's Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton -- wants the subject to go away. Otherwise reliable Vermont liberal Howard Dean is explicit on the point that gun control is a lousy issue for Democrats. All of this is progress of a sort. It shows that the original ban was all about politics, not safety. Keeping assault weapons off the streets was never the real issue. Proponents knew that all but a small percentage of crimes involving firearms were committed with guns that wouldn't fall under the ban. They also knew the ban was easily avoided by making small adjustments on the guns. But liberals didn't care about these details because guns were simply a wedge issue designed to scare suburbanites, and particularly women, into voting Democrat. Now that elections have repudiated the strategy, the party's enthusiasm has waned. The trend in gun regulation is now in a much different direction. The bill that recently passed the House would shield gun makers from frivolous lawsuits claiming they're responsible for the criminal misuse of a legal product. Smith & Wesson, Glock and dozens of others are currently being sued in federal court in Brooklyn by gun-control activists and trial lawyers who want to hold them responsible for high homicide rates in poor black neighborhoods. A jury rejected that claim last week, but the presiding judge, Jack Weinstein, has the final say and is expected to find for the plaintiffs. Republicans want to end this indirect assault on gun rights, and some Democrats are now realizing it's in their political interest not to get in the way. There's also a good lesson here for the business community, and it comes courtesy of the National Rifle Association's tireless efforts to protect Second Amendment freedoms. If the Chamber of Commerce or the National Association of Manufacturers wants to fight off damaging regulation, they'd better learn to mobilize politically and show they can win elections. In Washington, political relevance is what matters most.
Link Posted: 5/19/2003 3:27:39 AM EDT
I can't wait until the ban expires. I can't count the people here that have bitched and moaned over the years, "It's never going away!" "It's only going to be worse!". While the whole time I've been saying that it will be history. I even sold all of my prebans for rediculous prices because I think that they've hit their high point. Anyone that spends extra money on a preban anything between now and next year is throwing away money.
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