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Jewish World Review Sept. 22, 1999/12 Tishrei, 5760

David Limbaugh

David Limbaugh
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Have gun (tragedy), will travel -- CAN YOU GUESS who made the following statement?

"None of the gun control legislation under discussion in Congress would have prevented the purchase of weapons by shooters in a recent spate of firearms violence, including last week's massacre at a Texas church, gun control supporters and opponents agree."

Many of you are probably assuming the declarant was either one of the evil Republican presidential candidates or some foaming-at-the-mouth NRA spokesman. Nope. The statement was made by a pair of Washington Post staff writers in their front page news story for the liberal daily.

The same newspaper, a day earlier, ran a story about President Clinton and Vice President Gore addressing the annual dinner of the Congressional Black Caucus. Like symmetrical bookends, Clinton and Gore used the occasion to exploit yet another gun-related tragedy.

On Sept. 15, a madman gunned down seven people in a church in Fort Worth, Texas, before killing himself. Clinton and Gore were particularly exercised that Texas Governor George W. Bush had the audacity to be truthful and unsensational in referring to the mass-homicide.

The following day, Bush said that "a wave of evil," not a lack of gun control laws, is the cause of rampant gun violence in America. "I don't know of a law -- a governmental law -- that will put love in people's hearts."

Bush admitted that he wished that mentally deranged people such as the Texas shooter didn't have guns. But he held firm to his conviction that new anti-gun laws are not the answer.

Clinton and Gore could not permit such heresy by the Republican presidential front-runner to go unchallenged. Clinton, in an obvious swipe at Bush, said that "the solution is a sharing of responsibility and a refusal to duck facts, not a search for scapegoats or an attempt to blame all gun murders simply on human evil."

Well, who's scapegoating here and who's accepting responsibility? It seems to me that those who blame inanimate objects rather than their human operators are the ones scapegoating and avoiding the facts. Those, like Bush, who insist on stopping the buck at the human heart, have a firmer grasp on reality and truth.

Gore, who wonders why he is being tainted by his association with Clinton, unwittingly used his time at the podium to demonstrate why. "How can we allow guns in churches?" he asked. In the meantime, his aides were briefing reporters that Bush signed legislation as governor that allows Texans to carry concealed weapons in churches.

You have to admit that Gore trumped Clinton with that statement in terms of sheer demagoguery. The bill that Bush signed into law was a 1995 measure allowing Texans to be licensed to carry concealed weapons.

Thirty-one states have passed similar conceal and carry laws and none of them, as far as I'm aware, specifically mentions churches. Proponents of the laws favor them because they are believed to reduce, not increase, gun violence by deterring criminals from assaulting gun-toting victims.

In fact, Professor John R. Lott Jr. and David B. Mustard, of the University of Chicago, have concluded that "allowing citizens to carry concealed weapons deters violent crimes, and it appears to produce no increase in accidental deaths." And states that have right-to-carry laws have lower violent crime and homicide rates on average, compared to the rest of the country.

The Washington Post reporters got it right. None of the recent mass-murderers would have been deterred by gun-control legislation currently pending in Congress. Not Harris and Klebold at Columbine, not Benjamin Nathaniel Smith, the white supremacist in Illinois and Indiana, not Mark Barton, the Atlanta day trader, not Buford Furrow Jr., the L.A. day-care center shooter, and not Larry Gene Ashbrook at Fort Worth Baptist Church.

Clinton and Gore are fully aware of this, yet continue their shameless effort to convert these tragedies into expendable political capital.

Clinton, in his remarks, called on the country "to make this election year about assuming responsibility, not ducking it."

Hopefully, just this one time, the nation will take Clinton's advice, and next year, hold the Democratic Party accountable at the ballot box for enabling its felonious leader to remain in office free to inflict further damage on the country, its moral fiber and its national security.

JWR contributor David Limbaugh is an attorney practicing in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and a political analyst and commentator. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


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