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HCI Losing Touch With Reality?

Friday, June 14, 2002

It seems the gun-ban lobby formerly known as HCI (a.k.a. the Brady Campaign or Brady Center) is either in a deep state of denial, or has simply lost touch with reality. The organization regularly tries to deny that Democratic candidates are trying to distance themselves from HCI`s anti-gun agenda, even though the vast majority of political pundits and media outlets (even those that are anti-gun) have been pointing out this fact since the 2000 elections. But HCIs spin on this weeks court decisions is further proof of the group having abandoned any semblance of rationality.

Although Mondays decision by the Supreme Court of the United States is far from ground-breaking, a press release from the gun-ban lobby makes the outrageous claim the non-ruling is a "Major Blow to NRAs Extremist View of the Second Amendment." And while it boggles the mind trying to determine how the organization came to such a wild conclusion, whats more mind-boggling is the group labeling as "extremist" a view held by the overwhelming majority of Americas voters. Last week we reported that a Zogby International poll found 75% of American voters shared the correct view that the Second Amendment protects an individual right. The idea that HCI finds a view held by tens-of-millions of Americans to be "extremist" just goes to show how out of step with the general public the group has become.

And if declaring the majority of American voters hold "extremist" views is not enough proof that HCI no longer exercises common sense or restraint when issuing its outlandish rhetoric, the spin the group tried to put on the Ohio Supreme Court’s ruling on the Cincinnati reckless lawsuit should remove all doubt. The organization is calling the close 4-3 ruling the "greatest legal victory yet against the gun industry." But as was pointed out in the earlier story on this ruling, it barely qualifies as a victory—as the case may still be dropped or rejected, and, if it proceeds, it is likely to lose—and if HCI is reduced to considering it the "greatest legal victory," then the organization’s supporters should be truly concerned.

Then again, this isn’t the first time the gun-ban lobby has made such bizarre claims. In 1999, HCI called an appellate court ruling in California that allowed another reckless lawsuit to proceed a "historic victory" that would have "far-reaching implications" for similar suits. That case was thrown out two years later by the California Supreme Court. So much for HCI’s prognosticating skills.

Even some long-time supporters of HCI’s agenda are now having to question the group’s rhetoric. A June 7 editorial in the Washington Post—a paper that openly supports most gun-control proposals as part of its editorial policy—has taken the gun-ban lobby to task over its involvement in the Maryland gubernatorial race. Recently, the organization began running radio ads as part of its campaign to help elect Maryland’s anti-gun gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend (D). The ads—which another Post article from June 13 refers to as "the opening salvo of a planned $250,000 campaign"—feature HCI president Mike Barnes claiming Townsend’s Republican opponent, U.S. Representative Robert Ehrlich, Jr., has an "extremist record" when it comes to firearms. But the Post’s editorial points out that, while "Mr. Ehrlich’s record on gun issues is not one that we embrace," his "record is...fairly mainstream." And the article from June 13 indicates that the HCI/Barnes ad is quite misleading—although dishonest may be a better word—when it comes to representing Ehrlich’s record.

The Townsend campaign claims it was not involved with the HCI attack ads, but it has yet to comment on HCI’s use of the "extremist" label when discussing her opponent. Does Townsend support HCI’s position that Representative Ehrlich has an "extremist record" on guns? And do all of HCI’s supporters, including those lawmakers who regularly introduce or promote HCI-endorsed legislation, share the gun-ban lobby’s view that the belief the Second Amendment protects an individual right is an "extremist view"? The vast majority of American voters—75%, to be exact—would certainly like to know who considers their views to be "extremist."

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