As the annual convention of the National Rifle Association draws near each year, the anti-gunners and their allies in the media try to come up with some story angle designed to embarrass and marginalize the association of 3.5 million gunowners and supporters.
Last year, they used the Colorado high school shooting to force a scaling back of the convention and annual members meeting in Denver.
This year, Handgun Control Inc. (HCI) kicked off a television campaign in early May to distort and exploit political comments made by Kayne Robinson, first vice president of the NRA, at a Feb. 17 members forum in Los Angeles
The HCI campaign seems to have two objectives, either of which could help Vice President Al Gore, Bushs likely Democrat opponent for the presidency.
One of HCIs goals this year seems designed to put pressure on George W. Bush, the expected Republican nominee, to support anti-gun positionswhich would serve HCI and Gore, or to split him away from the NRA and its memberswhich would also help HCI and Gore in November
The second objective is to discredit the NRA in the eyes of the general public by suggesting that they would have too much power in a Bush Administration.
Bushs firearms record in Texas, his position on lawful gun ownership and his acceptance of support from the NRA have been the focus of several attacks by Gore on an almost daily basis.
But it was HCI that told its media sources that Robinson said that if Bush wins in November, well have ... a president where we work out of their office. They used a videotape of the California meeting to substantiate their claim, even though Robinson was suggesting, while the GOP primary results were still in question, that any Republican candidate would be friendlier than Gore.
Some newspapers claimed that Robinson said that the NRA enjoys unbelievably friendly relations with the Texas governor.
Asked about the news reports, NRA spokesman Bill Powers told Reuters news service he could not confirm Robinsons specific remarks, but said it was no big surprise that of the two main presidential candidates, Bush was perceived as being more attuned to the interests of the NRA
To tell the truth, if the next administration invites us to the White House half as much as the current Administration has invited Sarah Brady, that would be quite a change. That would be good news for our members, Powers said.
The Washington Post confirmed that it obtained the videotape of Robinsons remarks from Handgun Control.
In the comments, Robinson, a former deputy police chief in Des Moines who serves as chairman of the Iowa Republican Party, described the 2000 race for the White House as a critical election in which Republican success would ensure a Supreme Court that will back us to the hilt.
Were facing a critical election, Robinson said, according to The Post. There will be four, maybe five justices of the Supreme Court appointed in the first term of the next president. . . If Gore is the president, every one of those people will be rabidly anti-gun.
If we (Republicans) win, well have a Supreme Court that will back us to the hilt, added Robinson, according to The Post account.
Handgun Control held a news conference after the stories broke, admitting that the organization hoped the ads would make voters aware of Bushs gun record in his home state and instead choose Gore in November.
Robinson spoke after the HCI news conference in Washington, saying it was no secret the NRA supported Bush.
Asked about his remarks that the NRA would be working out of a Republican presidents office, Robinson said this was no different to what Handgun Control had done in the Clinton era.
Handgun Control and the anti-gun people have had literally unlimited access to the White House, said Robinson.
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