April 22 1999: the UK press (presumably deciding that the war in the Balkans is a just a little bit embarrassing) filled their front pages by trotting out the same tired old "guns are evil and make people kill" and suggesting that the Second Amendment doesn't really mean what it says - UK journalists being too stupid to be able to read plain English and too lazy and stupid to do even the most elementary research. For some reason, they also think that a handgun ban mysteriously stops the use of shot guns (and for that matter pipe bombs) in murder sprees (presumably via sympathetic magic).
The UK press seems to believe "the American love affair with the gun" as they call it will preclude UK-style gun restrictions but some people have faith in the power of propaganda…
The Clinton Administration may use the tragic school shootings in Colorado to propose sweeping new gun control legislation that could lead to an outright gun ban or require Americans to register every gun they own with the federal government, Capitol Hill Blue has learned.
Within minutes of learning of the shootings that left at least 15 people dead in the Denver suburb of Littleton, the Clinton spin team went into action, generating memos on the best ways for the President to capitalize on the tragedy.
"The President asked for a number of scenarios for the best way to deal with the situation," one White House aide said Tuesday night. "At first he was going to decry the incident and call for new gun bans. Some advised against doing so that quickly, so he backed off and just went with a short statement that said it was too soon to say anything."
Aides say Clinton spent most of Tuesday afternoon monitoring the situation where at least two students at Columbine High School in Littleton went on a shooting and bomb throwing spree before killing themselves.
White House pollsters worked the phones, sampling public opinion, trying to gauge just how far Americans voters would let the administration go.
Hours later, Clinton went before a press conference and hinted that he may use the tragedy for stronger action by the federal government.
"I think after a little time has passed, we need to have a candid assessment about what more we can do to try to prevent these things from happening," Clinton said.
According to White House sources, among the options being prepared for Clinton's consideration:
"The President made it very clear he wants to take action on this," said one White House senior aide. "He will not allow this incident to pass without taking action. He feels the public will support whatever course of action he decides to take."
One source said White House spinmeister Sidney J. Blumenthal has urged the President to use the Colorado shootings to divert attention from both the China spying scandal and the Kosovo war that has resulted in mounting criticism of the White House.
Blumenthal reminded the President that his "show of concern" during the Oklahoma City Bombing revived his Presidency just when Clinton's popularity was at its lowest ebb.
"Leave it to Sid to find a bright spot in a public tragedy," says veteran public relations man Samuel Wastell. "I'll bet you there's a poll in the field right now testing the public's support for new gun control legislation."
Gun show owner John Hylton said he isn't surprised to learn the Clinton administration is considering a new gun ban.
"He will use this to curry favor with the gun-control advocates," Hylton said. "But that's not the answer. From what I understand, these kids also used pipe bombs. Pipe bombs are already illegal, but that didn't stop the kids from using them."
Clinton also ordered his staff to see check into a trip to Colorado immediately following the NATO summit in Washington.
"He feels a very public show of support is very important right now," one aide says. "It's a shame the NATO conference might get in the way of this."
Capitol Hill Blue, April 21, 1999
This editorial from the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, tells it like it is…
President Clinton didn't flinch when ordering 18-, 19- and 20-year-old military personnel into places that he can't pronounce to fight for the cause of freedom and democracy, but he has angst over the thought of those same young men and women possessing firearms when they return to their native soil.
The stink of hypocrisy in the president's latest attempt to control guns in America is enough to curl the nose hairs of anyone who believes in the Bill of Rights.
"Well, young patriot, your country trusts you enough to put a fully automatic assault rifle in your hands so you can protect some stranger's life half a world away. But when you get back to the good ol' U.S. of A., you'll go from patriot to peon, 'cause I'm gonna make it against the law for you to keep a five-shot .38 revolver in your night stand to protect your own sorry hide.
"Nothin' personal, you understand. It's just that we don't have a clue how to stop violent mental defectives, so I'm doin' the only thing politicians know how to do in such cases, and that's intrude, infringe and otherwise trample on the freedoms of law-abidin' folk - even ones willing to fight and die for their country."
Clinton's move was so, so predictable. Instead of waiting to find out exactly how many existing laws Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold violated to get their hands on the weapons used in last week's terroristic attack on Columbine High School, he lets one week pass before proposing "the most comprehensive gun legislation any administration has put forward in 30 years," to quote an ebullient White House.
One report this week indicates that at least 19 federal and state gun and explosives laws were violated in the Colorado case. Had Harris and Klebold survived their bloody rampage, those charges alone would have been enough to put them away for the rest of their unnatural lives. Does anyone really think that three, four or a dozen more gun laws would have made a dog's worth of difference to them?
Of course, not much of what the Artful Draft Dodger proposed is new. He took darn near every gun-control initiative every devised short of total confiscation (just give him time), added the new wrinkle of background checks for people wanting to buy explosives, and presented a reformulated package to an America still mourning the events in Littleton. And then he flat-out admitted that timing's everything in getting something like this passed in Congress.
If gun-rights advocates even mention the Second Amendment after such an event, they are accused of trying to capitalize on tragedy. But it's perfectly acceptable for gun-control proponents to jump on it like a duck on a June bug.
One problem with this kind of reflex lawmaking: It doesn't work. Even the traditionally anti-gun Democrat Tom Daschle of South Dakota said he doesn't think more gun-control legislation is the answer.
Maybe that's because the senator realizes that most of the problems outlined in the "omnibus" crime package already have corresponding state and federal laws on the books.
Do laws deter evil? Did a prohibition against possessing the components to make explosives stop the cross-wired psychotics in Colorado? Or the group of Wimberley 14-year-olds who allegedly conspired to blow up their school last week?
Last I looked, a law against murder has been on the books since…well, since Moses came down from the mount. But that hasn't stop evil people from killing.
No one will ever know what twisted mix of societal influences, chemistry and just plain evil turned Harris and Klebold into murderers. But frustration over not being able to answer time-worn questions has the administration lashing out at an easy target: guns.
In the quest to restrict potentially deadly weapons, people are looking in the wrong place. How many American homes have teen-age time bombs ticking away, undetected behind the closed doors of their bedrooms, because Mom and Dad are too busy trying to fulfill the materialistic dream of two SUVs in the driveway and a TV in every room?
In truth, probably not very many. The vast majority of Americans are hard-working, law-abiding, decent human beings doing the best they can to raise their children to be normal, functioning members of society. But the deadliest concealed weapon in this country is a neglected or ignored child.
As information about Eric Harris continues to surface, it's becoming searingly clear that everyone around him missed the signs of impending doom. Those who did see them - like the parents of a classmate who was threatened by Harris on his Web site - were ignored.
Ironic, isn't it, that the only other ones who saw Harris for the walking disaster he was were the Marines? Even America's premier fighting machine knew there was something not right about that natural-born killer.
Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, April 30, 1999