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The Progressive

When "Good Politics" Gets Lethal:

Harry Reid Takes a Dive on Gun Control

Matthew Rothschild

There's a time when "good politics" gets lethal.That time is now.

I'd have thought that after the horrendous carnage at Virginia Tech on Monday that Democrats, at least, would be clamoring for new laws restricting handguns, the very weapons that the killer used.

"I hope there's not a rush to do anything," he said.Not a rush, Harry?

But no.

The powers that be in the party, anyway, rather than speaking out, are muffling their voices.

Here's Harry Reid, Senate Majority Leader: "I hope there's not a rush to do anything."

Not a rush, Harry?

There's only 32 innocent people dead in Virginia.

Not a rush, Harry?

There's only 10,000 people a year murdered by guns in the U.S., and only 1,800 of them are children.

Not a rush, Harry?

The homicide rate with guns in the United States is only 10 times Canada's and 50 times Britain's and 200 times that of Japan.

So don't be in a rush or anything, Harry.

Because playing the angles in the next election is way more important than doing what is right, like saving lives, isn't it, Harry?

The carnage at Virginia Tech should be especially embarrassing for Rick Boucher, a Democratic Congressman from Virginia.

Prior to the April 16 shooting, Boucher was a lead sponsor of a bill that would make it even easier to carry concealed handguns. It would allow any person with a valid permit for a concealed firearm in one state to carry that gun in any other state, even states that ban concealed firearms, according to the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action. The bill is entitled "The National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2007."

After the shooting, Boucher issued an obligatory statement condemning "this horrific and senseless act." His press officer did not return a call for comment as to whether he would still be sponsoring that bill.

Larry Pratt, executive director of the Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, found a way to turn the carnage somehow to his advantage. "The latest school shooting demands an immediate end to the gun-free zone which leaves the nation's schools at the mercy of madmen," he said.

Now there's a solution: Arm the students! Never mind the murders that will follow after break-ups or under exam pressures or at drunken parties.

Banning or restricting handguns has been shown to greatly reduce the murder rate in Australia, Canada, and Great Britain.

We ought to be able to do that here.

But we haven't yet.

Not after Columbine, eight years ago.

Not after the horrors at the Amish schoolhouse in Pennsylvania six months ago.

"Since these killings, we've done nothing as a country to end gun violence in our schools and communities," says Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "If anything, we've made it easier to access powerful weapons."

And still, today, Harry Reid is not in a rush.

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

© 2007 The Progressive

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