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Gun-Control "Debate" Is a Class Issue

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I and other gun owners find this attempt at reinventing the Democratic Party to be incredibly insulting ("Gun Shy," News & Features, May 9).

Do they think we've been asleep for the last 20 years? It should not surprise anyone that Tim Kaine, a politician, gave the people what he thought would get him more votes, by using public funds to bus people to the Million Mom March seven years ago. After the political bloodbath known as the Assault Weapons Ban, it is equally unsurprising that Kaine refused to allow the Virginia Tech shooting to be made into a gun-control issue. He's a politician.

And actually, it just doesn't "turn out" that the Democrats are packing heat. Rich people and people in positions of power, regardless of political affiliation, have always enjoyed the protection of firearms, by either direct ownership, hired bodyguards or the enhanced police protection that wealthy neighborhoods enjoy. The gun-control "debate" has never been about taking guns away from the rich. Instead, the debate has been about how to best convince regular working-class folks, the people who are most often victims of crime, that they don't need or want firearms to protect themselves. In order to do this, you create a group of people that everyone else is afraid of.

Early Southern gun laws stated that blacks, women, Indians and drunkards could not possess firearms. Northern gun control, being more "progressive," was only aimed at disarming Eastern European immigrants and Catholics. Modern gun control is about the wealthy and powerful using racial tension to disarm the working class. Any time you hear about getting guns out of the "inner city" or away from "urban youth," it's a way for politicians to talk about black people without actually saying what they mean. Gun control has never been a safety issue. It always has been and always will be a class issue.

And for those gun owners who actually have been sleeping for the last 20 years, I'd like to point out that the guy who tried to extend the ill-conceived Assault Weapons Ban for an additional decade was your own Republican Sen. John Warner. Your Republican president, George Bush, has repeatedly stated that he would sign another Assault Weapons Ban if one were dropped on his desk. It is also your Republican politicians who supposedly fight to prevent the passage of more gun-control laws and then argue for the strict enforcement of those laws once they've been passed.

If you think that any politician sincerely believes their stated position on guns, you're a fool. This is not an issue of safety, morality or principles. It is an issue of dividing the working class while making sure they still vote for you.

The Democrats have always been packing. They just never wanted to talk about it until they realized it would get them more votes. There was a very good reason that John Kerry was running around days before the 2004 elections pretending to be a duck hunter. There is a very good reason why Hillary Clinton will not get the Democratic Party nomination; because they can't put enough distance between her and her position on gun control. Thankfully, Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States. We can only hope he's learned something from his supposedly humble beginnings.

Matt Siegel
Richmond

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