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Howard Dean on Gun Control

Former VT Governor; Former Democratic Candidate for President


Different states need different gun laws

Q: Don’t you think your stance that gun control laws should vary state by state ignores the fact that guns can easily travel across state lines and be used in crimes in states different from where they were purchased?

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.

Source: Concord Monitor / WashingtonPost.com on-line Q&A , Nov 6, 2003

Background checks for gun shows

Q: What’s your position on guns?

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.

Source: CNN “Rock The Vote” Democratic Debate , Nov 5, 2003

Endorsed by NRA eight times as VT governor

John Kerry criticized Dean’s 1992 statement to the National Rifle Association that he opposed any restriction on private ownership of assault weapons. “Howard Dean’s opposition to sensible gun safety measures is indefensible,” Kerry said. “It explains why he has been endorsed by the NRA eight times. I believe we must put the safety of our children and families ahead of special interests like the NRA.”

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.

Source: Associated Press in Minneapolis Star-Tribune , Oct 31, 2003

Leading Dems distance themselves from divisive gun debate

Democratic presidential candidates are distancing themselves from tough gun control, reversing a decade of rhetoric and advocacy by the Democratic Party in favor of federal regulation of firearms.

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.

Source: [X-ref Edwards] Jim VandeHei, Washington Post, p. A1 , Oct 26, 2003

Agrees on some issues with NRA, but some gun control

I'm not a big gun control guy, Dean said. "Background checks should be applied to gun shows, but I don't believe you ought to have a national gun control bill. Don't tell us in Vermont and Montana what we should do about guns. Why can't the states decide for themselves?"

That displeases the leading gun control lobby, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. But like the Brady Center and unlike the NRA, Dean favors extending the ban on assault rifles and closing the "gun-show" loophole in the Brady Act. Like the gun control lobby and unlike the NRA, he opposes a bill granting the gun industry immunity from almost all lawsuits.

He opposes only a nationwide licensing and registration plan. But there is no such plan. Gun control advocates have no intention of urging Congress to pass a comprehensive gun control law. In other words, Dean agrees with the gun control forces on all of their active proposals except one: limiting purchases to one firearm a month. But that isn't going anywhere either.

Source: Citizen's Guide to the Man Who Would be President, p.214-215 , Oct 1, 2003

Supports assault weapons ban and Brady bill

In response to a question on where he stands on gun control, he said he supports the assault weapons ban and Brady bill, but that gun control means different things in different regions and should be left up to the states.

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.”

Source: Lincoln Anderson, The Villager , Apr 10, 2003

Get guns off the national radar screen: no new federal laws

If I thought gun control would save lives in Vermont, I would support it. If you say “gun control” in Vermont or Tennessee, people think you want to take away their hunting rifle. If you say “gun control” New York or L.A., people are happy to see Uzi’s or illegal handguns taken off the streets. I think Vermont ought to be able to have a different set of laws than California. Let’s keep and enforce the federal gun laws we have, close the gun show loophole using Insta-check, and then let the states decide for themselves what if any gun control laws they want. We need to get guns off the national radar screen if Democrats are ever going to win again in the South and the West. Just as we resist attempts by President Bush to dictate to the states how we run our school systems and what kind of welfare programs to have, we need to resist attempts to tell states how to deal with guns beyond existing Federal law.
Source: Campaign web site, DeanForAmerica.com, “On the Issues” , Nov 30, 2002

No more federal gun laws; leave them to states

Dean brags that he has an A rating from the National Rifle Association. Dean favors the existing federal gun-control laws but believes that any further gun control is best left to individual states.
Source: Charles P. Pierce, Boston Globe , Nov 24, 2002

Other candidates on Gun Control: Howard Dean on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Former Contenders:
V.P.Al Gore
Pat Buchanan
V.P.Dick Cheney
Sen.Bob Dole
Ralph Nader
Gov.Sarah Palin

Political Thinkers:
Noam Chomsky
Milton Friedman
Arianna Huffington
Rush Limbaugh
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Ayn Rand
Secy.Robert Reich
Donald Trump
Gov.Jesse Ventura
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Page last updated: Jul 04, 2014