Monday, September 13, 2004

Guns helping the poor: "Middle-school teacher John Annoni needs his guns. Growing up on some of Allentown, Pennsylvania's meanest streets, Annoni says hunting kept him on the straight and narrow. 'Being able to rely on that firearm, being able to go and shoot, took me away from a lot of pain,' says Annoni, who's been hunting for 'about 22 years.' So he started Camp Compass Academy, luring a new generation of inner-city kids off the streets and into the wilderness with the promise of hunting and fishing. Voters like Annoni see any increase in gun control as a potentially slippery slope that could lead to taking their guns away."

Guns for civil liberties: "A lethal moment in Bogalusa shocked the Klan into the realization that blacks were no longer chattel punching bags. During a 1965 summer desegregation demonstration, white hecklers turned violent and threw a brick which struck Hattie Mae Hill. The white mob surrounded the car the Deacons were using to attempt an evacuation of the terrified girl. As the mob threatened to break into the car, Deacon Henry Austin shouted that he had a gun. Then he fired a warning shot from his .38 into the air. The mob kept closing in. Austin then fired almost point blank into the chest of Alton Crowe who was in the front of the mob. While Crowe survived, the fun of beating up on blacks died that afternoon in Bogalusa."

Confiscation of registered guns begins: "The Chicago Police Department and the Illinois State Police have teamed up to make good on Mayor Daley's pledge that, if it were up to him, nobody would have a gun. Daley and his elite 'CAGE' unit are apparently taking advantage of gun privacy loopholes to pinpoint certain individuals for inclusion in the confiscation program. The ISRA is following up on leads in one case that has disturbing implications. An elderly first-generation Chicago resident was recently paid a visit by an Illinois State Police trooper. After asking to come inside the man's home, the trooper asked if the man owned a gun -- to which he replied yes. The trooper then directed the individual to surrender the firearm. The man complied with the officer's demand and the trooper left with the gun. And the story gets better."


With its battle to kill the decade-long U.S. ban on assault weapons won, the National Rifle Association is now setting its sights on the Nov. 2 presidential and congressional elections.

The 10-year ban on importing or manufacturing certain military-style assault weapons expires on Monday because Congress never renewed it. While many decried its expiration and polls showed a majority of Americans supported the ban, few were ready to engage in a major fight with the NRA, the powerful gun lobby whose large financial war chest and committed 4-million membership has made it a political power for years.....

The NRA, which generally supports Republicans, has not yet formally endorsed President Bush's re-election bid. But its Web site calls his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, "the most anti-gun presidential nominee in United States history" despite efforts to paint himself as a gun owner and hunter.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre said formal endorsements would not come until Congress recessed next month, but he did not hide his preferences for Bush's record on firearms. Although Bush said in 2000 he would back extension of the assault weapons ban, he never pushed for its passage and has embraced other NRA policy priorities. "It's pretty clear where gun owners that care about their guns are going," LaPierre said in a telephone interview last week. He said Kerry's efforts at portraying himself as a sportsman showed the Democrat recognized his vulnerability.

"That gun in Kerry's hands says more than anything I can say," LaPierre said. "He wouldn't be doing that if he didn't realize it's make-or-break-it for a candidate out in the heartland of the country."

Some analysts say Democrat Al Gore's narrow defeat in several states with a large pro-gun electorate cost him the 2000 presidential election and that the Democrats lost control of Congress in 1994 because of NRA campaigning against them......

Congress did pass the 10-year assault weapon ban in 1994 and President Bill Clinton signed it into law, but the NRA has since made the death of what LaPierre called "faulty legislation based on cosmetic nonsense" one of its top priorities.

While its demise was a win for the NRA, the year has not been all victories for the gun lobby. Another top priority, a bill to limit civil lawsuits against the gun industry, passed the House of Representatives but failed in the Senate. NRA allies killed it themselves after the Senate added to the bill a renewal of the assault weapon ban.

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