|Wednesday, July 14, 1999||
Volume 64, Issue 156
Moeller Part 2
Ed De La Garza
Jumping the gun?
Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore announced Monday proposals to take a bite out of crime if he is elected president.
Speaking in Boston, Gore suggested a constitutional amendment that would guarantee certain rights for victims of crime. He also called for a national law against hate crimes and more federal funding to hire prosecutors and police.
But most of all, he said he favors more restrictions on handguns. "It is too easy for a child or criminal to get a gun in America," the vice president said. And it is.
He said Washington should require a special license to purchase handguns -- a license that would be granted only after a background check and a gun-safety course. He said the government should ban "junk" handguns, restrict consumers to one gun purchase per month, require child safety locks on guns and help end plea-bargaining for criminals who use guns.
On the legislative side, former U.S. Sen. Bill Bradley has already called for registration of all handguns, a ban on the sale of "junk" guns, mandatory safety locks and gun training, and a ban on gun sales in residential areas.
Republican frontrunner George W. Bush has opposed gun registration and the idea of requiring a purchasing license, but calls for tougher sentencing for those who commit crimes with guns.
Republican Elizabeth Dole has called for more firm handgun laws, including requiring guns to have child-proof locks.
Gore says the nation should create a "family lobby" for gun control that's more powerful than the gun lobby on Capitol Hill. Dole says the Clinton administration (including Gore) has been soft on prosecuting gun-related crimes. Bush says a gun purchasing license won't stop criminals from acquiring the weapons.
Who's right? They all are. In an ideal world, Gore's "family lobby" would be stronger than the gun lobby, and lobbyists wouldn't be able to control our government.
In an ideal world, the government would avidly prosecute gun offenders, and requiring a license to purchase guns would drastically reduce the number of illegally obtained firearms.
But the world is far from ideal. If Gore plans to make his ideas feasible, he'd better get to work organizing a practical "family lobby." And Bush should take a hard look at the gun lobby and weigh its support against the needs of the general public.