Howard Dean on Gun Control
Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President
A: I come from a rural state with a very low homicide state and no gun control other than the federal laws. I support those federal laws vigorously. Hunters don't need AK-47s to shoot deer and most hunters I know don't believe that it should be easier for criminals to get their hands on guns, but I know that states like California and New Jersey want more gun control than that. I believe that they should be allowed to pass what gun controls they think they need, but that it is unreasonable to apply laws that may be necessary in California to rural states like Montana or Vermont. The cross border issue has been resolved in one case: Virginia now limits the availability of gun purchases because so many Virginia guns were turning up in New York City illegally.
A: I support the assault weapons ban. I do not support the elimination of liability for gun owners. I support background checks. And I support background checks for people who buy guns at gun shows. I come from a rural state where people hunt. We have the lowest homicide rate in America. So my attitude is, let's have those federal laws and enforce them. And then let every state make additional gun control as they see fit.
Dean responded, "I come from a rural state with a very low homicide rate. We had five homicides one year. It's a state where hunting is a part of our life. I understand that's not the traditional Democratic position." Dean said "when you're running for governor, they ask you what you would do in your state." Dean aides said the opposition to restrictions on assault weapons that Dean expressed on the signed 1992 NRA questionnaire applied only to a state ban, defined broadly enough to also apply to shotguns commonly used by hunters in Vermont.
Howard Dean proudly tells audiences that the NRA endorsed him as governor of Vermont, and that he would leave most gun laws to the states. Dick Gephardt, a longtime gun control advocate, is careful to highlight his support for law-abiding gun owners. John Edwards says, "Guns are about independence. They don't want people messing with that."
As a result, Democratic strategists predict the debate over gun laws in this campaign will be less divisive. Democrats might fight for narrow proposals to make guns safer and more difficult for children and criminals to obtain, they said, yet voters are likely to hear as much about enforcing existing gun laws as creating new ones-a position Republicans and the NRA have pushed for years.
When you say 'gun control' in New York, they think it's taking away Uzis on the street, he said. "When you say 'gun control' in Wyoming, it means they're going to take away the squirrel rifle that your grandfather gave you."
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George W. Bush
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|Adv: Avi Green for State Rep Middlesex 26, Somerville & Cambridge Massachusetts|