Democrats Tout 'Right to Bear Firearms'
by Ari Armstrong, October 4, 2002
A recent mailer for a Colorado congressional candidate, paid for by the candidate's party, states, "The 2nd Amendment guarantees all law abiding citizens the right to own firearms. [Our candidate] is a gun owner who will protect our constitutional rights. [In the State Senate he] has been a strong supporter of the 2nd Amendment. Working with the NRA, [he] co-sponsored H.B. 1410 -- the legislation to provide standards so law abiding Coloradans can carry guns across county lines without local interference. He opposes any new waiting periods. He opposes mandatory federal licensing of gun owners. He opposes one-gun-a-month laws. Call [our candidate] and tell him to keep leading the fight for 2nd Amendment rights."
So which Republican candidate is this? It's not a Republican at all -- it's a Democrat! It's Stan Matsunaka, who is running against Marilyn Musgrave for the Fourth Congressional. Another flyer from Matsunaka's campaign states, "A gun owner who strongly supports Second Amendment rights, Stan Matsunaka is the co-sponsor of 'Shall Issue' concealed carry legislation that will provide uniform, statewide guidelines for issuances of concealed weapons permits. Law abiding citizens who apply for concealed weapons permits should be held to one standard and be able to carry their guns across county lines."
Now, everybody knows Musgrave is one of the greatest champions for the right to bear arms ever to serve in the state legislature. She opposes victim disarmament laws and supports the least-restrictive concealed carry system possible.
So Matsunaka is merely trying to play catch-up. Still, it's nice to see a "me-too" Democrat on gun issues! And there's something beautiful about the fact that financial contributors to the Democratic Party are paying to promote the "right to own firearms." The literature from the Democrats is stronger than a lot of the material coming from Republicans. In 2000, the Democrats spent all kinds of money to bash pro-gun Republicans -- what a difference two years make!
Elsewhere in his literature, Matsunaka supports socialized retirement planning, socialized medicine, and socialized education. And he's pretty pathetic even on the gun issue. Even though he claims he doesn't want "federal licensing," he is apparently okay with federal registration such as the Brady law requires. He says he doesn't want "new waiting periods" -- what about the unjust delays already created by federal laws? He has breathed not a word about repealing any of the thousands of unconstitutional federal laws now on the books.
Rocky Mountain Gun Owners called 1410 a "step backwards" (http://www.rmgo.org/HB14102.html). 1410 is not really a "shall issue" bill -- it includes numerous exceptions that turn it into "may issue." It also includes "criminal safety" zones where the permit is not valid. The permits now issued in Colorado are better than what 1410 would have provided. Matsunaka's literature about "county lines" is misleading-- right now permit holders are legally allowed to carry anywhere in the state. RMGO points out that Matsunaka used to vote against concealed carry legislation -- before he decided to run for Congress.
The Libertarian in the race, John Volz, makes only the following statement about firearms on his web page: "Remember the good old days when you could talk about politics the day before the election, back when a person could buy a handgun to defend themselves against a threat they might face that evening?" (http://www.lpboulder.org/candidates/volz/) Libertarians generally oppose all federal firearms laws.
Stan Matsunaka is to gun rights what Vanilla Ice is to rock music. Still, even the fact that he is pretending to be friendly toward the right to bear arms is encouraging. Hopefully in a few years the candidates will be trying to outdo each other on who can repeal unconstitutional federal laws the fastest.