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April 17 Neal Knox Update -- Gunowners around the country are
steaming that the White House said last week that Pres. Bush
supports re-enactment of the prohibition against so-called "assault
weapons" and over-10-round magazines.

There's been no retraction, but no additional noise from
either NRA or the White House.

A White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, told a Knight-Ridder
reporter: "The president supports the current law, and he supports
reauthorization of the current law."

I've seen nothing else in the press except an almost-invisible
note in last Saturday's Washington Post, citing the Knight-Ridder
report. But the Internet has been lit up by angry chatter from gun
owners.

There have also been press releases and web page articles from
the anti-gun crowd lauding President Bush -- though they wouldn't
vote for him even if he signed Feinstein's re-enactment bill with
a total registration amendment, and pro-gun Sen. Zell Miller were
the Democratic Presidential nominee.

It's easy to see why Bush wouldn't want to make much noise
about his support for the only Federal ban on commonly owned guns
-- mechanically identical to many more. After all, even Bill
Clinton said Al Gore's worse-than-Bush gun position narrowly cost
him the Presidency.

But considering the immense support NRA gave the Republican
party (unwise, in my book) and individual Republican candidates, it
is incomprehensible why Bush would have even whispered his support
for the ban -- even if he did support it during the 2000 campaign.

"That's lousy politics," major Washington political player
Grover Norquist -- an NRA Director and head of Americans for Tax
Reform -- told Knight-Ridder.

The only comment from NRA, a lame response by NRA E.V.P. Wayne
LaPierre to the K-R reporter, was: "Ultimately, I think this issue
is going to be decided by the Congress."

That's true, of course, but Wayne knows full well that any
Presidential support for the bill gives Republican Congressmen a
green light to rewrite the gun ban.

It's significant that the White House statement came only a
couple of days after they had endorsed H.R. 1036, Rep. Stearns'
bill to protect gun makers and sellers from ruinous lawsuits trying
to hold them liable for criminal misuse of their products. That
support, on the eve of the vote, helped cause all but three House
Republicans to vote for the bill -- which passed 285-140.

As I wrote immediately after last week's vote, the lopsided
score is misleading, for many who supported what NRA has repeatedly
called their "No. 1 priority" did so in hopes of getting a high
political grade despite their coming votes to re-enact the gun ban.

A key player in NRA responded that "all votes aren't equal and
gun bans will weigh very heavily." That's good to know, and I hope
ILA will make that very clear to Congress.

As important as it is to keep the U.S. gun industry
prosperous, H.R. 1036 (and its Senate companion, S. 659) is
primarily a bill to protect sellers, while the ban on military-look
semi-autos -- and the ban on standard-capacity magazines -- is a
law that affects consumers, and unquestionably violates the Second
Amendment.

So the liability bill has never been No. 1 priority with most
NRA members or other gun owners.

Preventing re-enactment of the Feinstein semi-auto and
magazine ban is the No. 1 priority of NRA members -- and I hope the
members at next Saturday's Annual Meeting of Members make that
absolutely clear.
 
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