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... And the Politics of Guns

It's showdown time for gun control.

Democrat Al Gore plans to hammer Republican George W. Bush on the issue in the presidential race - and Mr. Bush has already relented on the issue of requiring child safety locks on guns. Never before has the whole topic of guns been such a big issue in a national campaign. (See story, Page 2.)

And President Clinton is pressing Republicans for a law by April 20 - the anniversary of the Columbine shooting - that would require background checks on buyers at gun shows. And he's deflated one argument of the pro-gun lobby - that gun laws aren't being enforced - by asking for $280 million to better do just that.

But here's the big event this year: On Mother's Day (May 14), gun control advocates plan a "million-mom march" in Washington.

In the forefront of the march will be mothers who have lost children to guns. The event isn't aimed at a ban on guns. Rather, its leaders want to keep guns out of the wrong hands - especially kids.

Law by law - and, unfortunately, shooting by shooting - the US is whittling away at its unique gun culture. Perhaps the year 2000 will be a turning point.

Like many well-monied lobbies, the National Rifle Association is losing its ability to influence politicians who block laws that would help prevent more gun tragedies. And the ranks of gun-control supporters are growing.

The Bush-Gore race provides a useful forum for more public debate on the ways to curb violent gun use. Gore, for instance, proposes photo-licensing for new owners of handguns. In opposing such measures, Bush will be on the wrong side of a trend.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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