March 2006

Downrange: 03/06

A SIREN’S SONG
Apparently, Democrats have lost on the gun-control issue so often that they’re considering changing their public stance on the issue. Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is suggesting that the party take a more regional approach on gun-control legislation. In rural states in the West, for instance, Democrats could view gun-control laws as state issues, rather than promoting national gun controls that have been losers for the party since 1996. That would allow Western and Southern Democrats to finesse the issue and avoid riling red-state voters who want to protect their Second Amendment rights.

Voters in blue states or in blue areas of red states would hear Democrats supporting tighter gun restrictions in urban areas with serious crime problems. Democratic Party officials say they expect their candidates to have a wide range of opinions on gun control, and insist that the national party’s message of "responsible gun ownership" is not hostile to law-abiding gun owners.

But gun owners need look no further than the party’s most prominent members, such as Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, to understand that Democrats as a party want to take guns away from responsible gun owners.

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TRIAL COURT GETS FIRST WHACK
The California Court of Appeals said it will not consider the NRA’s legal challenge to San Francisco’s Proposition H before a trial court considers the legal merits of the case. Prop. H, which bans handgun possession by city residents other than police officers and those required to have them for professional purposes, took effect Jan. 1. It also prohibits the sale, manufacture, and distribution of firearms and ammunition within city limits.

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SEARCHING FOR KATRINA GUN LOOTERS
Crimestoppers Inc. and several New Orleans–area law-enforcement agencies have teamed up to track down more than 600 firearms looted from Louisiana pawnshops and other gun dealers in the chaotic days after hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Tipsters can receive a reward of up to $2,500 for the arrest and indictment of anyone responsible for the gun thefts from 20 businesses in the New Orleans area, Crimestoppers Executive Director Darlene Cusanza said. The public also can collect a separate reward of up to $2,500 for the recovery of stolen weapons, she said.

Looters made off with 75 to 100 firearms from BJ’s Pawn Shop on Jefferson Highway in Jefferson, Louisiana, before burning the store to the ground in the first days after Katrina made landfall August 29, 2005. But hurricane-related gun looting wasn’t just a local problem. Another 400 firearms were stolen from businesses in Mississippi and Alabama. Of the 1,000 guns looted from all three states, only 137 have been recovered. The guns have been found in Georgia, Arizona, Texas, and Mississippi, but the vast majority have turned up in Louisiana.


-Todd Woodard