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The Democrats' Assault (on) Weapons By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, November 04, 2003


THE CRACK OF A 12-GAUGE SHOTGUN BLAST split the chill autumn air above the Iowa cornfield, and seconds later its victim lay twitching in its death throes. Moments later the killer fired his weapon again, gunning down a second victim.

Gun in hand, the killer came costumed in a bright orange vest, two flannel shirts, blue jeans and duck boots from L.L. Bean – or from Central Casting of his Hollywood image manipulators.


“He looked,” said my radio show producer Scott Saloway, “like Michael Dukakis playing soldier in that tank to prove his manhood.” 


As he stuffed the two innocent wild pheasants he had killed into his bag, presidential candidate Senator John Forbes Kerry, D-MA, promised the gaggle of reporters within earshot that he would eat what he had killed when he returned to Boston.


This presumably was Kerry’s attempt to take on the nobility of Native Americans or the like.  He would kill animals, but he would honor these creatures by making their bodies part of his own. He would kill not just for thrills or sport, but for humble food as our ancestors did. Back in Boston, of course, multimillionaire Kerry regularly feasts on pheasant and caviar while claiming to represent the poor.


By saying he would devour the small birds he blasted from the sky, the left-wing Senator should have offended not only the gun-controllers, environmentalists and members of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals among his supporters – but also the vegetarians.


In fact, however, professed radical feminists never wavered from Bill Clinton despite his frequent sacrifices of virgins to his lust. And Kerry’s supporters will not waver at this cruel and cynical act of animal sacrifice to the god of his political ambition, which they will see as a sop to blue collar saps who can still be fooled by such small gestures into voting Democratic. 


To working-class rednecks who enjoy hunting, Kerry demonstrated his marksmanship, his skill in killing two birds with two shots.  It reminded them of an earlier, freer America in which “gun control” meant a steady hand and a sharp eye.


To his leftist loyalists Kerry displayed his Marx-manship by mixing these hunter pictures with his usual sermon about how he had hunted since age 12 but never used an AK-47 assault rifle. This was Kerry’s sly wink to the Left that as President he would, like Clinton before him, use every gimmick he could to take guns away from those dumb rednecks.


“It’s not a mixed message,” said Kerry. “I’m just being where I’ve been all my life. I believe in the Second Amendment in this country. But I don’t believe that assault weapons ought to be sold in the streets of America. Never believed it, don’t believe it now.”


But Senator Kerry knows that in politics pictures trump words. When you conjure an image but say its opposite, the message that sticks in the mind of the audience is the image, not the subtitles. (Leslie Stahl of CBS “60 Minutes” still talks of her revelation of this wisdom, given by a Reagan aide, after she had done her typical anti-Reagan news story but had shown President Ronald Reagan looking handsome and confident in front of a sea of American flags.)


The reason Kerry projected this image of himself as a gun-toting hunter is the fate of Al Gore in 2000.  Vice President Gore lost President Bill Clinton’s State of Arkansas, his own home state Tennessee where voters knew Gore best and rejected him, and in a state Democrats had taken-for-granted: West Virginia, where blue collar union workers spend weekends hunting and caring for their guns.


Gore had advocated even more gun control.  The 2000 Democratic National Platform said, among other things, “Now we must do even more. We need mandatory child safety locks. We should require a photo license I.D., a background check, and a gun safety test to buy a new handgun. We support more federal gun prosecutions and giving states and communities another 10,000 prosecutors to fight gun crime.”


This extremist stance almost certainly cost him the presidency. Kerry, with a long legislative record as a gun control supporter, now desperately wants to straddle this issue in the public’s perception by planting one foot – or at least one toehold – on the pro-hunter side.


Democratic strategists apparently had hoped that by going silent on the hot-button gun issue, they could make it disappear from the public radar screen without alienating leftist anti-gun support.  Their internal polls seem to have shown otherwise – that Clinton and Gore so imprinted the Democratic Party with an anti-gun stigma that some candidates feel compelled to counteract this image.


“It’s very important for us as Democrats to understand that where I come from guns are about a lot more than guns themselves. They are about independence,” said North Carolina Senator John Edwards. “For a lot of people who work hard for a living, one of the few things they feel they have any control over is whether they can buy a gun and hunt. They don’t want people messing with that, which I understand.”


The Founding Fathers would have put it more starkly, in terms the National Rifle Association or Gun Owners of America have used. Chairman Mao was right: political power does grow out of the barrel of a gun.


Guns in the hands of the people are both the symbol and the reality of ultimate power residing in their hands. What message has it sent, therefore, that leftist Democrats are almost rabidly determined on any pretext to take those guns, and with them the ultimate power of the people away?


Fearful of the people, Democrats are changing their rhetoric, if not their real agenda. In the U.S. Senate, Minority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and other Democrats are co-sponsoring a bill to shield gun makers from lawsuits 


(But in the House, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California opposed reducing the time for background checks of gun buyers from three days to one – a measure to make gun show purchases over a weekend plausible.)


“Rep. Richard A. Gephardt, a longtime gun control advocate,” reports the Washington Post, now “is careful to highlight his support for law-abiding gun owners.” Presidential candidate Gephardt has refused to give the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives more power to investigate gun crimes. “They have enough,” he now says.


General Wesley Clark recently hired as his presidential campaign’s communications director the former spokesman of Americans for Gun Safety, which is busy trying to make gun control more acceptable by repackaging the same old authoritarian “take power away from the people” agenda.


The leader of the Democratic pack, especially in rural gun-loving key political states such as Iowa and New Hampshire, is Howard Dean.  As Governor of rural Vermont, Dean chose not to support certain gun control measures and won the endorsement of the NRA after taking the position on a 1992 NRA questionnaire that he opposed “restrictions on semiautomatic weapons.”


“I believe in the assault weapons ban and I believe in its reauthorization, because deer hunters don’t need to have assault weapons,” Dean says today as a Presidential candidate. “I believe in the background checks we have in retail, and I believe they should be extended to gun shows. But after that, I think every state ought to make its own gun laws.”


New York and California “can have as much gun control as they want,” Dean with disregard for Second Amendment rights recently told a New Hampshire interviewer, but the federal government should not “inflict regulations” on Montana, Vermont or other states where gun crimes are rare. 


Shotgun in hand, Senator Kerry on Saturday after his killing spree, with pheasant blood from his publicity stunt still on his hands, fired back at Dean. “You cannot favor federal gun control and allow the states to do it their own way. That’s a complete contradiction,” said Kerry.


“If you can go buy a gun under one loophole in one state and then drive it in your car secreted across a line to another state, the people in those states are not safe,” said Kerry. “The governor can’t have it both ways.”


Kerry, likewise, cannot pretend to be a pro-gun hunter for the TV cameras when only days earlier he was being wildly applauded for his strident gun control advocacy by the Brady Campaign To Prevent Gun Violence (the group formerly called Handgun Control).


“Our party will never be the choice of the NRA,” said Kerry at the September 2, 2003, South Carolina speech kicking off his presidential campaign, “and I’m not looking to be the candidate of the NRA.”


Senator Kerry was among those gun controllers who, as a pretext, sought to empower the Consumer Product Safety Commission in regulating handguns.  What he could not kill outright, Kerry aimed to choke slowly to death by ever tighter, ever more onerous regulations and lawsuits.


Bill Clinton won the support of Senator Kerry and a raft of other far-Left Democrats for his many attacks on the Second Amendment. 


Let’s pause to remember just a few of the gimmicks and schemes Bill Clinton, that so-called Southern Good Ole Boy, used to destroy the rights of gun owners.


1.      Clinton directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to create a whole department to study guns and gun violence as if they were a disease.  This, like his effort to give regulatory power over guns to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, were to lay the basis for banning and restricting firearms as a public health and safety measure. (The CDC study of “children” harmed and killed by guns became notorious when scholars noticed that it had defined “children” as anyone up to 22 years of age – this to jack up the statistics with dead and wounded 17-21-year-olds, mostly victims of inner city drug turf wars, while pretending that these were infants.)  This could also open the door to thousands of lucrative lawsuits by Democrat-supporting trial lawyers, cities, and leftist groups such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).


2.      Clinton sought to outlaw possession of any firearm within 1,000 feet (roughly one-fifth of a mile) of any school.  But in most cities almost everyplace is within that distance of a school, public or private.  Anti-gun activists even tried to invoke home schooled kids (whom they otherwise despise) as a way of banishing guns from large areas of cities and suburbs.


3.      Clinton closed large amounts of federal land to firearms, whether for target shooting or hunting.


4.      Clinton diverted $45 million in taxes paid by gun owners from its designated “sportsmen’s trust fund” to other uses, including funding of an environmental group and turning previous hunting land into a wildlife preserve where hunting was prohibited.


5.      Clinton promoted laws that made those convicted of misdemeanors, not just felonies as previously, ineligible to purchase firearms. He also encouraged legislation to make those merely accused of violence – e.g., a man accused but not convicted of spousal abuse by his wife – ineligible to buy a gun, a measure that where enacted made it illegal for many serving police officers to buy firearms. (Democrats are lobbying to restore voting rights to convicted felons on the theory that these criminals – up to 85 percent of whom register Democrat – have “paid their debt to society. But Democrats do not support returning these felons’ Second Amendment right to keep, bear and purchase arms.)


6.      Clinton demanded the outlawing of “cop-killer bullets” and firearms able to penetrate bullet-proof vests. By definition, this would outlaw virtually every hunting rifle and cartridge. Clintonistas also waged a hate campaign in the leftist media against “Black Talon,” bullets designed to fragment on impact. Depicted as ghoulish weapons to mutilate those shot, the bullets in fact were designed, for safety, to break apart and lose their energy when hitting any wall in a house instead of continuing on into neighboring apartments or homes. This was typical of the relentless Clinton hate propaganda against firearms.


7.      Clinton banned imports of more than 50 models of modified “assault rifles,” i.e., ordinary semi-automatic rifles stylized to resemble military guns.  He also restricted the clip capacity of any firearm to 10 bullets. (But after it gave huge donations to the Democratic Party, he did allow Communist China to export one of its assault rifles into the United States for sale.)


8.      Clinton launched a full regulatory and IRS attack on one gun manufacturer, Smith & Wesson, leaving it only two choices – to go bankrupt or to sign an agreement with the Clinton Administration in which the company complied with a wide range of the greatest regulatory fantasies of gun controllers.  Had Gore been elected President, this outrageous political use of government tax and regulatory power would likely have been used against all gun makers, one by one, to drive them out of business.


9.      Clinton signed into law a new gun control law that required background checks for long guns as well as handguns – the first time these hunter weapons had been so thoroughly regulated by the federal government.  This new law, however, included a provision requiring that once background checks approved a gun buyer, the federal computer record of the purchase be erased.  Clinton quietly directed federal agencies to violate this law by retaining electronic records of who had purchased what gun – thereby illegally implementing de facto national gun registration of new firearms purchasers.  (Has President George W. Bush completely eradicated these illegal records by Executive Order?  If not, why not?)


This list of Clinton depredations on gun owners, buyers, sellers and makers could go on for dozens, even hundreds, of pages. It is transparently clear that Bill Clinton and Al Gore wanted Americans disarmed, all the better to make them submissive to and dependent upon government.  (The Clintons and Gore, meanwhile, gave anti-gun speeches while surrounded by Secret Service agents armed with fully automatic weapons. Why did they not lead by example and disarm their bodyguards?)


But like Senator John Kerry, Bill Clinton was not averse to taking reporters to photograph him hunting.  To win one key vote to enact the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Clinton reportedly made a deal to go duck hunting with Oklahoma Democratic Congressman Bill Brewster, a board member of the NRA and co-chair of the Sportsman’s Caucus in the House of Representatives.


Even Hillary Clinton, when running for Senate in upstate New York, reportedly told an NRA member and then Newsday that she had hunted ducks, but she declined to give details about where, when, with what kind of shotgun, or how many birds she killed.


“We have Kerry boasting about how he shot woodchucks at age 8 and Dean touting himself as an avid outdoorsman and sometime hunter,” wrote Deborah Orin of the New York Post.


Governor Howard Dean, she notes, “signed a Vermont law to create special deer and turkey seasons for kiddie hunters aged 15 and under, saying: ‘This is a great bill. Any time we can get kids interested in hunting, it’s a good thing.”


Cultures in which kids learn to handle guns responsibly and well are best able to defend themselves and their rights. Those kids who grew up shooting have been the backbone of America’s battlefield might. What happens to our future when guns are outlawed in America, and only outlaws have guns?


Senator Kerry used his sharp-shooting skills learned as a boy in Vietnam, allowing him to kill instead of being killed. But Kerry is right about one thing: his Democratic Party is not the party of the NRA and Second Amendment rights.  When you see Bill or Hillary Clinton or John Kerry carrying a shotgun, remember that their target is not some poor duck or pheasant. Their target is you.


Democrats might pretend to be gun-friendly to win your vote, but every vote for any Democrat empowers the gun grabbers and controllers. Just as you would be wary of Greeks bearing gifts (like the Trojan Horse), beware of any Democrat bearing arms in a publicity stunt like Senator John Kerry’s ritual killing of animals last weekend.

Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.

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