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Kadner: Guns, politics and national madness

DebrHalvorson

Debra Halvorson

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Updated: March 4, 2013 6:36AM



New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is behind blistering commercials appearing on local TV stations that attack former U.S. Rep. Debbie Halvorson’s pro-gun record.

The commercials note that Halvorson, of Crete, a Democratic candidate for Jesse Jackson Jr.’s 2nd Congressional District seat, once received an “A” from the National Rifle Association while in office.

They say she opposed a ban on assault rifles, reducing the size of gun magazines and has supported measures that would allow criminals to cross state lines carrying concealed weapons.

The commercials are paid for by Independence USA PAC, founded by Bloomberg and primarily financed by him. The New York mayor is a billionaire.

I resent political action committees jumping into local elections in an attempt to sway voters. Based on the phone calls and emails I’ve received, there are a lot of voters in the 2nd District who feel the same way.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that massive campaign spending by political action committees is free speech as defined by the First Amendment.

There’s little chance that Halvorson, or any other candidate in the 2nd District race, could come up with the money to counter the spending of Independence USA PAC.

As for Halvorson, I’m not sure where she stands on gun control, or more important, how she would vote if elected.

Five years ago, when she represented a congressional district that didn’t include Chicago, she took positions designed to curry favor with rural, pro-gun voters. That’s when she won her “A” rating from the NRA.

She recently told another news organization that’s she’s altered her views slightly now that she’s running in a district that includes Chicago’s South Side and more gun control supporters. She still opposes a ban on assault weapons but would consider restrictions on the size of ammo magazines.

I believe that. For better or worse, Halvorson tailors her political philosophy to fit her constituency, as do most politicians.

I resent the fact that gun control has become a focal point of political debate.

In a recent discussion with a knowledgeable, veteran political operative, he told me “assault weapons had to be banned,” and no right-thinking person could oppose such legislation.

So I asked him how he defined an assault rifle.

“A gun that fires multiple shots with one pull of the trigger,” he said.

But that’s not what lawmakers are talking about.

Those guns are automatic weapons that are tightly controlled by the federal government and require thorough background checks. It’s not the type of rifle used by Adam Lanza when he killed 26 people, 20 of them young children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

When politicians refer to assault rifles, they’re usually talking about semi-automatics that require a pull of the trigger for each round fired. But that’s not what qualifies them as assault weapons.

As described in previous laws, an assault weapon is a semi-automatic rifle that has a bayonet attached, a flash suppression device, a folding stock or a pistol grip. The rifle wouldn’t be banned. Just those features on a semi-automatic rifle.

That’s what drives pro-gun types to the brink of incoherence when they try to talk to anti-gun people about this subject.

The words “assault rifle” describe nothing at all. It all depends on how such guns are described in specific legislation.

I stopped long enough to listen to the rants of the pro-gun folks, ignored the insults hurled my way and checked the facts regarding their complaints. They’re right.

People discussing the pros and cons of gun control often don’t know what they’re talking about, even among themselves.

The reality is that children are often murdered in cold blood by other children for no apparent reason, with guns that do not fit the description of assault rifles.

The availability of guns on the streets of America plays a significant role in the bloodbath, but the pro-gun folks don’t want to believe that.

On the other hand, the fact that people are so willing to use those guns to kill others is also significant, and the anti-gun folks refuse to address that topic.

So the debate comes down to this question: Should a crazy person be allowed 10 rounds per magazine or 30 rounds before he enters a school building?

Vice President Joe Biden is trying to negotiate an agreement on that issue with Republicans in Congress.

If you step back for a minute and overlook the little children dying, the debate over gun control almost seems comical.

On the one hand, there’s all this concern over 30-round magazines and assault weapons, and on the other you have a U.S. appeals court ruling that Illinois’ ban on carrying concealed weapons is unconstitutional.

Illinois is the only state that does not have a concealed-carry law, so the Legislature is under pressure to pass a law that allows civilians to carry guns so people supposedly can feel safer on the streets.

I don’t know how this would have helped 15-year-old Hadiya Pendleton, of Chicago, who was murdered this past week while hanging around in a park with friends.

She has become the latest poster child for gun control, although no one claims the laws being proposed would have saved her life.

This country is living in denial — banning guns, reaching for guns, clutching at whatever is handy to avoid dealing with the real issue.

There’s a sickness eating at the very core of the nation and killing our children.

But that doesn’t make for an easy sound bite in a TV commercial.



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