Another sign John McCain is the wrong choice for gun owners

By Chad D. Baus

As if there wasn't already plenty of evidence that Senator John McCain is the wrong choice for pro-gun Republicans in the Presidential primary, the Columbus Dispatch has added one more item to the list:

The specter of Mike DeWine as U.S. Attorney General.

From the story:

If Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona becomes the next president, former Sen. Mike DeWine might end up with a cabinet post, possibly attorney general, according to speculation roaring through Ohio GOP circles.

DeWine, who was chairman of McCain's 2000 campaign in Ohio, has joined House Speaker Jon Husted of Kettering as McCain's most prominent Ohio backers in the 2008 presidential race.

Asked last week whether he could end up in a President McCain cabinet, DeWine said, "That's looking down the line too far. My first concern is getting him elected president. I'm sure that hasn't even crossed his mind."

DeWine's 12-year run in the Senate ended in the 2006 election when he lost to Democrat Sherrod Brown, then a U.S. House member. DeWine is expected to seek elective office again in 2010, possibly governor or state attorney general. He declined to comment on specific plans beyond saying: "I'm looking at Ohio. My political future is in Ohio."

DeWine, an anti-gun candidate sporting a Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control Inc.) endorsement, proved himself out-of-touch with Ohio voters on the Second Amendment, was drummed out of office just over 1 year ago. Comments about his fantasies of a political future in Ohio, and his support for John McCain's presidential candidacy prove he didn't learn a thing from his defeat.

In Ohio alone, approximately 1/2 million people have hunting and/ or concealed handgun licenses. And according to the Minneapolis StarTribune's Dennis Anderson, Ohio gun owners made up 27 percent of the total vote in Ohio in the year 2000.

Yet as a member of the House, DeWine supported the Brady Bill, which required a waiting period and criminal background check before a gun could be sold. When he ran for the Senate in 1994, he backed the Clinton Gun Ban. In 2006, Human Events Online named DeWine among the Top 10 anti-gun U.S. Senators. And shortly before his defeat, DeWine took a position in opposition to legislation which barred gun manufacturers, distributors, dealers or importers from frivolous lawsuits designed to put them out of business.

Mike DeWine consistently cast his votes on the side of the most rabid anti-gun Democrats in the Senate. And now he wants you to cast your vote for Senator John McCain. And we all know the wisdom that one should judge a man by the company he keeps. John McCain likes to claim he is pro-gun. But as Dr. John Lott wrote in an op-ed for National Review Online, "this was true a decade ago, but since then, on issues such as regulating gun shows, banning less expensive guns and so-called assault weapons, and requiring gunlocks, McCain has supported central portions of the gun-control agenda. Indeed, in a couple cases, McCain authored the proposed legislation himself."

From the 2006 op-ed:

McCain’s gun show regulations, instead of simply requiring background checks on sales at gun shows, would make it extremely difficult for gun shows even to function. A special license would be required to operate gun shows. Licenses could be denied without the federal government even having to give a reason, and no time limits would be placed on how long the government had to make its decisions.

While gun-control groups have tried for years to register the names of gun owners, McCain’s legislation helps accomplish this by effectively requiring the registration of all people who attend a gun show. Gun show operators would even face criminal penalties and imprisonment if any unregistered attendees were to trade a gun after the show if the gun were discussed in any way during the show. The only option to operators would thus be to register everyone.

McCain acknowledges that these regulations could be abused, but, according to him, the goals are too important to compromise, and McCain assures us that we should trust the regulators. Yet, it was not so long ago that the Clinton administration constantly halted gun sales nationwide as background checks broke down and kept records long after the law explicitly allowed.

Most troubling are McCain’s extreme measures for what is essentially a non-existent problem. The Bureau of Justice Statistics under Clinton conducted a survey of 18,000 state prison inmates in 1997—the largest survey of inmates ever conducted. Less than one percent of inmates (0.7 percent) who had a gun obtained it from a gun show. The vast majority of criminals—40 percent—say they got their guns either from friends or family, and 39 percent got it on the street or from other illegal sources.

Of course, like with many gun-control regulations, this call for more regulations rests on distortions. Despite the “gun show loophole” term used by McCain and others, there are no special exemptions for buying a gun at a gun show. Dealers must perform the same background checks as in a store. What gun-control groups refer to is the non-regulated private transfer of guns. Eighteen states regulate the private transfer of handguns, with some having regulations going back more than several decades. However, not surprisingly, just as with the semi-automatic gun bans, there is not a single academic study showing that these regulations reduce any type of violent crime.

McCain has also done advertisements on behalf of Americans for Gun Safety, a gun-control organization that supports licensing and registering every gun owner in the United States. He has used the ads to greatly exaggerate the risks of children getting access to guns in the home—a claim that is based upon a questionable survey—and asked that people lock up guns. With the threats he claims existed, few would know that in 2002, for example, the number of children under 10 who died from accidental gun shots was 20, and the number of children under 15 was 56. Obviously, one death is too many, but McCain has launched no similar campaign against other much more dangerous items in people’s homes.

No mention was ever made by McCain about using guns for self-defense or that gunlocks might make it difficult to stop intruders who break into your home. And research indicates that McCain’s push for gunlocks is far more likely to lead to more deaths than it saves.

Unfortunately, these are not the only misleading advertisements that McCain has made for Americans for Gun Safety. As David Kopel has pointed out, McCain has also made misleading advertisements on an array of other issues, such as the Brady Law and gun shows.

Given their records, and in the context of the damage President Bush's new Attorney General is trying to do to the D.C. gun ban case the prospect of President John McCain and Attorney General Mike DeWine should be far and away enough to give gun owners across the country a serious wake-up call as they continue to search for a presidential candidate they can be excited about voting for.

Chad Baus is a Member of the Fulton County, OH Republican Central Committee and the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.

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