|August 12, 2000, 12:24 PM||#1|
Join Date: July 25, 2000
August 7, 2000
Bush Stand Is Used to Turn Election Into a Showdown
By JIM YARDLEY
The New York Times
AUSTIN, Tex. -- One expectation of anyone running for governor of Texas is that he or she must grab a gun and shoot something. So in 1994, George W. Bush, then the Republican candidate for governor, borrowed a 20-gauge shotgun and invited a group of reporters on a dove hunt.
In the dawn mist, Mr. Bush fired seven times, bagged a bird for the cameras, and then left to continue campaigning. But the dead bird turned out to be a killdeer, a protected species, and a photo opportunity meant to underscore Mr. Bush's kinship with gun owners instead became an embarrassment, as he paid a small fine and apologized.
Yet in the eyes of gun owners in Texas and national gun-lobbying groups like the National Rifle Association, Mr. Bush's illegal shot was the last mistake he has made. The N.R.A.'s chief lobbyist in Washington, James Jay Baker, could not recall a single instance in which Mr. Bush, as governor, had opposed the group. "Not that I can remember," Mr. Baker said.
Governor Bush's record has been decidedly sympathetic to gun owners. He has signed far-reaching pro-gun legislation, including a 1995 law making it legal to carry concealed weapons, an expansion of that law in 1997, and a 1999 law making it extremely difficult for cities to sue gun manufacturers. One national survey by a gun-control group found that only three states -- Louisiana, Arkansas and Maine -- had looser gun laws than Texas.
This stance has earned Mr. Bush many admirers in Texas, where guns are entwined in the culture. But it has also galvanized his opponents in this presidential campaign, from gun-control groups to Vice President Al Gore, who have eagerly tried to cast Mr. Bush as a willing pawn of the gun lobby.
Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore are using the gun issue to pursue broader themes of attack. Mr. Gore has cited Mr. Bush's pro-gun record to try to marry the Texas governor to his party's right wing, and, in contrast, has offered a string of gun-control proposals. Mr. Bush's aides, noting that Mr. Gore once opposed gun control, only to change his position, have used the issue as part of their effort to depict Mr. Gore as opportunistic.
Both the rifle association and the leading gun-control group, Handgun Control Inc., are treating this election as historic. Handgun Control ran commercials attacking Mr. Bush during the Republican National Convention and will continue to do so. Mr. Baker, who said the N.R.A. would spend $15 million in this year's election campaigns, said that the candidates' divergent views on guns made this presidential race the most important in 20 years.
The governor's supporters say he has put Texas in the national mainstream with the 30 other states that have similar laws allowing the carrying of concealed weapons. But his critics note that several other Republican governors, including George Ryan in Illinois and George E. Pataki in New York, have pushed for stronger gun laws. Mr. Bush supports better enforcement of existing laws, as does the rifle association.
"There hasn't been a Texas governor that compares to Bush in carrying water for the N.R.A.," said Nina Butts, president of Texans Against Gun Violence, a gun-control group.
In February, a high-ranking N.R.A. official was videotaped telling supporters that in a Bush presidency, "we work out of their office." The official said the association and Mr. Bush would have "unbelievably friendly relations."
Mr. Bush bristled at that remark and has sought to signal his independence from the association by endorsing ideas that include background checks on the buyers of firearms at gun shows and raising the minimum age for buying handguns to 21 from 18. This spring, when the Million Mom March on Washington was held in support of gun control, Mr. Bush announced that he would spend $1 million a year of state money to to hand out free trigger locks to handgun owners. He said that if elected president, he would support a similar national program.
But critics note that Mr. Bush declined to put his clout behind gun-show background checks in Texas even though he is now supporting them nationally.
Texas residents recall that Mr. Bush ran for governor on four issues in 1994 -- juvenile justice, tort changes, and overhauling education and welfare. But guns were also an issue. The incumbent Democrat, Ann Richards, had vetoed a 1993 bill to permit a statewide referendum on allowing Texans to carry concealed weapons. Mr. Bush pledged to sign such a bill, and gun lobbyists now say the issue was crucial to his victory.
In 1995 the Legislature again passed a concealed-weapons bill. Many law enforcement agencies, including the Texas Association of Police Chiefs, opposed the bill, but Mr. Bush, as he had promised, signed it into law. The law, which did not require a referendum, allows residents to carry hidden weapons if they undergo a background check and 10 to 15 hours of training. Two years later, Mr. Bush signed an amendment that allowed people to carry concealed weapons into previously excluded institutions, including churches, nursing homes and hospitals, unless those institutions expressly prohibited it.
The bill's supporters were pleased, but if they regard Mr. Bush as an ally, they do not consider him a soul mate.
"Bush is being given the mantle of the pro-gun zealot and he's really not," said Jerry Patterson, a former Republican state senator who was a chief sponsor of the concealed-weapons bills in 1995 and 1997. Mr. Patterson said some "pro-gun people are not comfortable with Mr. Bush."
Gun-control supporters were outraged, particularly by the provision involving churches. Mr. Patterson said it had been in response to complaints from pastors who could not carry their weapons onto the grounds of their own churches. As of July 3, state statistics showed that 212,969 Texans had licenses to carry concealed weapons, and Mr. Bush has argued that the law has made Texas safer.
Gun-control advocates say crime has fallen in Texas because of larger national trends, not concealed weapons, and point to studies that show that many gun owners with concealed-weapons permits have committed crimes.
The rifle association shifted emphasis in 1999, beginning an effort to blunt lawsuits filed by cities against gun manufacturers. In Texas, which includes 3 of the nation's 10 largest cities, the Legislature passed a bill prohibiting such municipal lawsuits, though it did allow the state attorney general to file such suits. Mr. Bush signed the law and has suggested that he would sign similar federal legislation if elected president.
When asked about gun control, Mr. Bush often repeats the theme that government should enforce existing laws, not restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens. As part of his juvenile-justice package, Mr. Bush increased the penalties for minors committing crimes with a gun. In 1999, he helped institute the Texas Exile Program, which helps law enforcement agencies prosecute gun crimes under stricter federal sentencing guidelines. In 1995, he signed the Texas Child Access Prevention law, which holds adults criminally responsible for not keeping loaded guns out of the hands of children.
But while gun-control advocates applauded the child access law, they noted that it included something for the N.R.A. -- a provision that "strongly encouraged" school districts to provide gun-safety programs beginning in kindergarten. And the provision instructed schools that the safety program must comply with the rifle association's safety course for children, with the cartoon character Eddie Eagle, essentially allowing the association to dictate the curriculum.
Finally, gun-control advocates say Mr. Bush should be judged not only by what he has done, but what he has not. Last year, Debra Danburg, a Democratic state representative from Houston, introduced a bill to close the loophole that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows from unlicensed sellers without a background check. Texas has the most shows of any state, with 472 in 1998.
A day after the Columbine High School shootings, Mr. Bush said that a popular culture that romanticizes violence had been partly to blame. But in remarks to reporters, Mr. Bush endorsed the idea of background checks at gun shows. This stunned Ms. Danburg. Just hours before the governor's comments, Ms. Danburg's bill had died in a House committee. Mr. Bush had done nothing to get the bill passed.
Mr. Bush's aides and pro-gun lobbyists say the Danburg bill was flawed and would have essentially closed down all gun shows. Ms. Danburg said she would have amended the bill and could have passed it, if Mr. Bush had helped.
"If he supported it, he should have put his money where his mouth is," she said.
"He's made enough promises to extremists who are pro-gun that they have passionately adopted him," she said. "Yet he doesn't talk with people who are concerned with gun safety."
Copyright 2000 The New York Times Company
All rights reserved.
|August 12, 2000, 01:18 PM||#2|
Join Date: December 9, 1998
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>'But while gun-control advocates applauded the child access law, they noted that it included something for the N.R.A. -- a provision that "strongly encouraged" school districts to provide gun-safety programs beginning in kindergarten. And the provision instructed schools that the safety program must comply with the rifle association's safety course for children, with the cartoon character Eddie Eagle, essentially allowing the association to dictate the curriculum.'[/quote]
An excellent example of what the anti-self defense movement actually thinks of 'compromise'. This agreement is a perfect example of compromise ... each side gives a little. That is unacceptable to gun bigots. Their version of compromise is when we give up the RKBA, one step at a time. I don't recall who said it, but it goes something like 'it is foolish to compromise with someone whose ultimate goal is to drive you into the sea'.
<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"He's made enough promises to extremists who are pro-gun that they have passionately adopted him," she said. "Yet he doesn't talk with people who are concerned with gun safety." says Ms. Danburg[/quote]
All responsible people are concerned with 'gun safety', except, apparently, gun bigots who don't want to teach it to children. Leftists always argue that you don't care about the goal if you don't agree with their leftist solution.
G.W. Bush is the best horse we have available in this race. IMHO, if he loses, things will get much worse, very quickly.
And if that happens, I'd wager that some of us on this board will become 'criminals' by the passage of resulting laws, and we'll be serving prison terms within the next 5 years. I'm not kidding.
Hyperbole? If Gore wins, at best it will be like watching Gray Davis in CA call for a moratorium on anti-self defense laws. The Million Morons and their ilk will push and push, until they arrive at their absurd destination. The courts would be our last opportunity for justice, but the SCOTUS would be packed with leftists. I don't relish this future.
IMHO, a vote for anyone other than G.W. Bush is simply designed to accelerate this process. Personally, I'm not keen on rushing incarceration or internal unrest. I wish Mr. Bush well in this race.
Live and let live. Regards from AZ
[This message has been edited by Jeff Thomas (edited August 12, 2000).]
|August 12, 2000, 02:23 PM||#3|
Join Date: July 23, 2000
Location: The Freedom of AZ
Bush not be a RKBA's dram come true, but algore is the nightmare. Bush is trying to win over the independents and moderates so he is unlikely to ally himself closely with the NRA whose public persona is, lets face it, not great. I will support him becuase algore is awful and not just on the gun control front. We must be pragmatic, don't just stay home if you feel that Bush doesn't expouse the hard-core RKBA line. It seems to me that he is not an anti. If we want a national Shall Issue nation then we need Republicans in the White House and Congress.
"Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities...Because it is the quality that guarantees all others"
"If we go on waiting upon events, how much shall we throw away our resources now available for our security"
"Where there is a great amount of free speech, there is always a certain amount of foolish speech"
Winston S. Churchill
|August 12, 2000, 02:53 PM||#4|
Join Date: January 25, 2000
Ok, he didn't support the gun show ban, then said after it died that he would support it. If we must have doubletalk from politicians, that's the kind of doubletalk I'll accept.
Want to send a message to Bush? Sign the petition at http://www.petitiononline.com/monk/petition.html and forward the link to every gun owner you know.