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Jewish World Review May 17, 1999 /2 Sivan 5759

Don Feder

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Gun control, campaign-finance reform -- two liberal illusions

(JWR) ---- (
TWO OF LIBERALISM'S pet panaceas, threats to the First and Second Amendments respectively, are again being pushed at the credulous.

Last week, the Senate approved modified background checks on private sales at gun shows. The Littleton, Colo., shootings were the excuse.

At the same time, House Majority Leader Dick Armey said he favored a vote on campaign-finance reform by the end of July. Democrats, who are devoted to this flimflam, seem to be saying, "Stop us, before we accept another check from a Chinese general."

Gun control and campaign restrictions both demonstrate a blind faith in government. They're also ploys politicians use to keep from confronting real solutions -- cracking down on criminals and career officeholders, who have much in common.

Both target the innocent -- the vast majority of honest gun-owners and those who contribute to candidates and causes. Both ignore past failures, ever hopeful that just one more law will do the trick.

Each has an ever-shifting target. The gun villain is assault weapons one day and gun-show sales the next. Our political system is debauched by (your choice): soft money, PAC money, too much money or advocacy ads.

Yes, more gun-control laws would have prevented the Columbine high school shootings -- the new restraints on campaign finance will bring a return to republican government.

The Columbine killers violated at least 17 federal firearms-explosives laws and any number of state statutes. How would one more would have stopped them?

Mandatory gun locks, another cause celebre, are unnecessary (more children under five drown in water buckets each year than die from gun mishaps) and would impede self-defense.

There are already regulations on gun-show purchases. For licensed dealers, they're the same as sales from a shop. The pair who reportedly bought guns at shows for the Columbine killers would have passed muster under proposed background checks by non-dealers.

There is no relationship between crime rates and gun laws. In 1997, the national homicide rate was 6.8 per 100,000. With some of the strictest firearms laws in the nation, California's rate was 8.0. Washington state has easy gun laws and had a homicide rate of 4.3. Washington, D.C., enacted a handgun ban in 1977. Between 1967 and 1997, its homicide rate tripled.

Campaign-finance laws are equally ineffective. The problem isn't political spending (Americans spend less on campaigns than yogurt) but unlimited service.

Just as gun control favors criminals by disarming their victims, spending restrictions aid incumbents at the expense of challengers.

In 1998, 98 percent of House and Senate members seeking re-election won. Of those who had served three or more terms, 100 percent were re-elected.

The advantages of incumbency are daunting. Incumbents have the name recognition that comes from past campaigns and years in office, media credibility, staffs devoted to their glorification (since 1957, the numbers of congressional staffers has gone from 4,500 to 16,000) and re-election appeals in the guise of constituent mailings. Since 1980, congressmen have sent out over 8 billion pieces.

The foregoing adds up to an estimated tax-subsidy of $1.2 million per two-year election cycle for each incumbent. Of necessity, successful challengers must spend prodigious sums to overcome this.

By and large, proponents of campaign-finance reform loathe term limitation.

Rep. Martin Meehan, D-Mass., co-sponsor of the Shays-Meehan assault on issue ads and soft money, liked term limitations well enough when he was a challenger and even signed a pledge to serve no more than four terms.

Since he's come to see the national interest inextricably bound with his own, Meehan has reneged on his promise. Now he's fighting politics as usual by seeking to keep U.S. Term Limits from running ads against him in the next election..

Generally, gun-control proponents are quite tender-hearted toward killers and career criminals. The American Civil Liberties Union would unplug electric chairs, empty the prisons and fight crime by disarming America.

The media hail both brands of snake oil and so proponents of each will reap plaudits for courageously standing up to the National Rifle Association or political-influence buyers, while opponents are castigated as reactionaries. Ah, reform -- what a fraud.


5/12/99: Watch Quayle go from "incredible" to quite credible
5/10/99: Conservatives excluded from academic diversity
5/05/99: Expecting the impossible of parents
5/03/99: Gore race-baits with impunity
4/29/99: Why Kosovo? Oh, just because
4/27/99: The president's pro-parent claptrap
4/22/99: McCain plays to the media
4/19/99: NATO would have favored the confederacy
4/14/99: Before we march into Kosovo
4/12/99: Taiwan more worthy of U.S. support
4/09/99: Bauer and Forbes --- Main Street vs. Wall Street
4/05/99: Bubba and Maddy lit Kosovo's fire
3/29/99: At Passover, Egypt is a state of mind
3/29/99: Could the GOP stand Pat in 2000?
3/17/99: Hollywood's party line in 1999
3/15/99: All bow, the court is in session
3/11/99: In praise of negative campaigning
3/09/99: Day-care study defies common sense
3/04/99: Starship Clinton orbits Kosovo
3/01/99: Public will blot out Broaddrick's accusation
2/25/99: Slick Hillie for Senate would be fun
2/23/99: Fascism in the name of fighting fascism
2/16/99: Was anything learned from the impeachment trial?
2/12/99: Educating the democratic voters of tomorrow
2/10/99: First Amendment doesn't apply to pro-life cause
2/08/99: Dems' triumph over Constitution complete
2/03/99: Blood of victims will drown out breakfast prayers
2/01/99: Without a home the heart knows no rest
1/29/99: Poster boy for term-limits
1/27/99: The 'so-what' defense in the City of Saints
1/25/99: Whose choice?
1/21/99: Censure worse than nothing
1/18/99: Words can`t dignify a dishonored presidency
1/13/99: Conservatism "with a heart" is conservatism without a head
1/11/99: If he isn't removed, watch out for Bill!
1/07/99: We can learn a lot from Teddy
1/05/99: Monica and a call to modesty
12/30/98: Will Bubba get away with it again?
12/28/98: Zionist dream alive and well on West Bank
12/18/98: Impeach or abandon the Rule of Law
12/16/98: Clinton moves Middle East closer to war
12/14/98: Why we lost interest in the homeless
12/10/98: No place at table for conservatives
12/07/98: The day America lost its innocence
12/02/98: Pilgrims Pilloried in streets of Plymouth
11/30/98: Caribbean dogpatch not a good candidate for statehood
11/25/98: Will Vermont force gay marriage on the nation?
11/23/98: The ACLU wants your kids to get a love life
11/18/98: Why liberals hate tobacco and guns more than drugs and crime
11/16/98: "Pleasantville" a countercultural morality play
11/13/98: Ads are a tough sell for abortion
11/09/98: Why gutless Republicans lost
11/06/98: Historians against the Constitution
11/02/98: Loving response to a hateful conference
10/28/98: Professor Death will fit right in at Princeton
10/26/98: Plymouth caves to Pilgrim foes
10/21/98: On '98 election, keep a critical eye on polls
10/19/98: Clinton could yet be 'prosperity president'
10/16/98: Working families -- Dems love 'em (stuffed)
10/09/98: Majoring in 'weirdness'
10/07/98: Friends of Billy Clinton
9/29/98: Letter from ex-soldier highlights defense peril
9/28/98: Answering arguments against impeachment
9/18/98: The nation that doesn't exist
9/14/98: Bubba isn't the only one who should be ashamed
9/11/98: Resolution of Clinton crisis will define national character
9/09/98: We're still just wild about Harry
9/07/98: Mexican banditry didn't end with Pancho Villa
9/02/98: Clinton forgives us!
8/31/98: Ashcroft's plain talking touches responsive chord
8/26/98: Public opinion be damned
8/24/98: Why liberals condone Clinton's lies
8/20/98: Time to move on -- to impeachment
8/12/98: With Bubba in the sexual privacy zone
8/10/98: The truth won't set Clinton free
8/06/98: Truth about Hiroshima is incontrovertible
8/04/98: Clinton not the first hollow president
7/30/98: "Small Soldiers" -- a fractured Vietnam allegory
7/27/98: Crime wave hits hometown
7/22/98: Love in an Internet fishbowl
7/20/98: Ads bring ex-gay movement out of closet
7/15/98: Brian and Amy -- the children of Roe
7/13/98: Why are we scared of obnoxious 'activists?'
7/6/98: Fonda still resists reality
7/1/98: New York blesses domestic partnerships
6/29/98: Teddy and Calvin stood for virtue
6/24/98: Will Clinton betray Taiwan?
6/22/98: Big tobacco? What about big casinos?
6/15/98: Religion -- God for what ails you
6/10/98: Planning Clinton's China itinery
6/8/98: Republicans' Custer offers advice
6/4/98: Oh, Dems Christian-bashers!
6/2/98: Goldwater did conservatives more harm than good
5/27/98: A Clinton-hater confesses
5/15/98: Giuliani's assault on marriage
5/13/98: Hillary knows what's best for everyone
5/11/98: To honor her would not be honorable
5/6/98: Conservative chasm: pragmatism vs. worship of marketplace
5/4/98: Anglo-saxon me
4/29/98: Needle exchange programs are assisted-suicide
4/27/98: Chretien's mission of mercy to Fidel
4/22/98: School-choice is a religious freedom issue
4/20/98: Corporate execs deliver body parts to Beijing
4/14/98: National sales tax --- looks better all the time
4/13/98: The U.N. sinister? Hey, where did that idea come from?
4/8/98: Unions fight workers rights in 226 campaign
3/30/98: Africa's leaders should apologize
3/25/98: GOP shouldn't look to media for advice
3/22/98: You should care about Clinton's 'private life'
3/19/98: Color-coded reading, product of obsessive minds
3/16/98: Amendment will end exile of G-d from our public lives
3/9/98: Havana will break your heart
3/2/98: Vouchers Terrify Teachers' Union
2/25/98: Presidential politics starts at a resort hotel
2/23/98: Hillary's support comes at a price
2/18/98: How many times must we say "no" to gay rights?
2/16/98: Enoch Powell spoke the truth on immigration
2/11/98: Bubba behaving badly
2/9/98: A conservative dissent on the flag-burning amendment
2/5/98: We get the leaders we deserve
2/2/98: Send a signal that could penetrate boardroom doors
1/27/98: State of the president: hollow rhetoric
1/25/98: For Monica's playmate, we have no one to blame but ourselves
1/22/98: At Yale, bet on yarmulke over gown
1/19/98: Commission tackles America's fastest-growing addiction, gambling
1/15/98: Capital punishment and the hard case: no exceptions for Karla Faye Tucker
1/12/98: Partial-birth abortion and the GOP's future: the "big tent" meets truth in advertising
1/8/98: IOLTA: the Left's latest scam to crawl into our pockets
1/5/98: Connect the dots to create a terrorist state
1/1/98: The Unacceptables of 1997: Long may they rave
12/28/97: Hypocrisy is a liberal survival mechanism
12/23/97: Chanukah is no laughing matter
12/22/97: No merry Christmas for persecuted Christians around the world
12/18/97: Bosnia, Haiti, and how not to conduct a foreign policy

©1999, Creators Syndicate