As the outcome of the presidential election hangs in the balance, Americans anxiously consider the prospects of a Texas Gov. George W. Bush presidency versus a Vice President Al Gore 69 regime. Among the issues being considered, gun control remains a major point of contention.
Many people harbor intensely passionate feelings on the matter, and those characterized as being pro-gun control are becoming increasingly horrified by the prospect of a Bush presidency. However, it is patently unfair for them to think of Bush as evil and Gore good when it comes to this dense topic. Upon a closer, more sensible examination of the facts, we find surprising differences between the two candidates.
First, it is clearly illogical and false to portray Gore as the savior of American gun control. Under the Clinton-Gore Administration, federal gun prosecutions have dropped by 46 percent, and there have been only eight prosecutions out of over 200,000 direct violations of the Brady Law (which requires an instant background check of anyone attempting to purchase a firearm). Prosecutors have simply not had the necessary resources to aggressively enforce our gun laws.
In his campaign, Gore has pledged to introduce a slew of new gun laws that make it increasingly difficult for licensed, law-abiding Americans to own a firearm. These proposals do not seem practical in light of the current state of violent crime in our country. Nevertheless, we should not think of Gore as a candidate who would totally subvert the Constitution and endanger ordinary Americans. He is correct in proposing that gun legislation be examined, and National Rifle Association (NRA) radicals are usually intractable, even when it comes to issues as moderate as child safety locks.
Unfortunately, Governor Bush is too often identified with this extremist wing of the NRA, and therefore many Americans view him as a reactionary who wants unlimited access to weapons for all individuals. In reality, Bush supports an expansion of the instant check system which is tied in to the Brady Bill, a juvenile assault weapons ban, child safety locks for all handguns and a ban on importation of high-capacity ammunition clips. While some people inexplicably believe that Bush's plans have not accounted for children's safety (especially in light of the recent school shootings), they should note that he supports Project Childsafe, a national initiative to provide federal matching funds to make child safety locks available for every single handgun in America.
Furthermore, Bush's record in Texas includes legislation making parents accountable for weapons in their homes, the creation of weapon-free school zones and tougher penalties for selling guns to kids--all of which have led to a decrease in both adult crime (down 14 percent) and juvenile crime (down 17 percent) during his tenure as governor. Bush's goals on gun control are simple rather than depriving law-abiding citizens the right to legally and safely possess a firearm, we must enforce our current laws that restrict criminals access to weapons.
All told, Gores record on gun control is not very impressive, and while his plans may sound more appealing to the uninformed American voter, they will ultimately prove ineffective in reducing violent crime. Bush brings a more pragmatic approach to gun laws, and his basic principles are reasonable. If he is declared the winner this week, Americans can rest assured that gun control will be dealt with judiciously over the next four years.
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