Trigger-happy politics

“You know, I don’t support that kind of crap!” Those eloquent words were uttered by wannabe president Howard Dean on NBC’s Meet the Press in reference to some of the more worrisome gun policies of the National Rifle Association. Spoken like a true president.

Though Dean admits that if he wins the Democratic nomination the NRA will happily endorse President George W. Bush, he added that the NRA endorsed him eight times as Vermont governor. Something he should be proud of, right?

I mean, the NRA has been consistently backing Democrats and fighting to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Their sole concern is to advance the cause of civil rights set forth in our constitution and have made no mistakes, ever, right? Give me a break.

I wish I could say that when I had a gun pointed at my head, I was thinking about the constitutional right of the man holding the trigger. But I wasn’t.

I wonder what the parents of the students killed at Columbine High School were thinking when they found out the NRA would hold a major rally in their city, just days after the shootings.

Oh, it’s their right. Now that that’s settled, let’s move on and go get lunch.

Dean says he stands up for what he believes in and doesn’t adhere to popular opinion. Now that he has catapulted to the front of the Democratic race for president (OK, he was at the front at some point) he is standing up against the NRA, backing the Assault Weapons Ban and increased background checks. Coincidence? I think not.

Congress recently passed an appropriations bill with a small, unnoticed, amendment backed by the NRA that changed the number of days gun purveyors had to keep their records on background checks from 90 days to one. Yes, down to one.

Placing this amendment into an appropriations bill nails politicians to the wall.

From his bully pulpit, the President should say he disagrees with Congressman who attach unrelated amendments to an appropriations bill. Would that ever happen? Only in a dream world.

Instead, the President has added insult to injury by stalling on the Assault Weapons Ban. Outside observers have said that much like his outlandish and overly expensive space exploration initiative, the President can support a bill halfheartedly knowing full well it won’t pass in Congress.

Bush gladly accepts money and endorsements from the NRA, and stands behind a Vice-President who sees nothing wrong with shooting live animals in the company of an influential Supreme Court Justice.

What message does the President, supposedly a compassionate conservative, send when he takes endorsements from people who show no compassion?

Back on the campaign trail, Dean is falling faster from the top than Janet Jackson’s shirt during the halftime show, and his policies on guns have highlighted an emerging problem in his campaign: The loss of the very thing that separated him from his counterparts; a strong and able voice.

I am not talking about his actual voice, which was strained by Dean’s Iowa scream fest. I mean his tone, his ideas and his prospects for the White House.

I never boarded the Dean train. I would have eventually supported him if he became the nominee (something I don’t think I will have to worry about now that he is 0 for 7) because the men and women he would have surrounded himself with would have been better than Cheney, Rumsfield and “Wolfie.”

When you don’t have a lot to lean with, you’re forced to surround yourself with intelligent people to lean on.

While using guns as a litmus test might not be the smartest idea, it works for me right now.

I would rather place my vote for a candidate whose position hasn’t changed on guns (among other things), than with a candidate like Dean whose finger can’t be trusted on the trigger.

Charlie Eder is a sophomore majoring in mass communications and political science.