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By Mike Hudson

Having been a registered Democrat since the Ford administration, I know better than to say my party is a lead-pipe cinch in next year's presidential election. If there is any way to screw it up, the Democrats will find it.

The wretched candidacies of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry provide ample evidence of that. I am happy, then -- and somewhat amazed -- that in the wake of the recent massacre at Virginia Tech not one of the Democrats vying for the 2008 presidential nomination sallied forth to call for even more draconian gun-control laws.

Party Chairman Howard Dean has done a world of good here, working in traditional Republican strongholds the Dems have given up on in the past, and actually saying, out loud, that he'd love to have more gun rack-equipped pickup-truck drivers voting Democrat. And last year, when the party regained control of Congress, it was pro-gun Democratic candidates who won the most hotly contested races.

Not that some in the party wouldn't like to see the populace disarmed. The far-left wing of the party has its intractable gun-control advocates, including the vocal and obnoxious comedian Rosie O'Donnell and the less-obnoxious but equally vocal California senator Dianne Feinstein.

Both of these ladies have been known to hire gun-toting bodyguards to accompany them in public, oblivious to the hypocrisy their position on gun control entails.

The issue has been a loser for the Democrats for nearly 40 years, since the passage of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968. It was exacerbated during the Clinton administration by passage of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, popularly known as "The Brady Bill."

Both of these pieces of legislation have failed miserably, in that there are more guns on the street today and gun crime is as high as it ever was.

But in allowing the party to be hijacked by Feinstein, Sarah Brady and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was shot to death by some nut while riding on the Long Island Railroad, the Democrats have basically handed the South and much of the West to the Republicans, turned even Pennsylvania and Ohio into battleground states and alienated a large portion of the national electorate.

If they passed a law tomorrow banning the importation, manufacture, sale, purchase or possession of a gun, the result would be much the same, as there are more than 250 million firearms currently in the hands of American citizens, which works out to about one apiece for every man, woman and child.

Say the new law was a huge success, and 1 million guns were confiscated or turned in during the first year alone. At that rate, you'd have them all by 2207!

Not really, of course. A lot of them wouldn't be turned in, and high school kids have been known to turn out perfectly functional firearms in shop class. Each year, in fact, hundreds of homemade guns are confiscated from convicts inside our prisons.

A properly maintained gun has a life expectancy measured in centuries rather than years. People and deer and Canada geese are regularly shot today with firearms 100 years old and more.

About the only real effect such a law would have would be to drive the price of guns through the roof, as was demonstrated by the short-lived assault-weapons ban also enacted during the Clinton presidency.

Recently, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown launched a program by which the city will pay $100 for every gun turned in by city residents. Some elderly ladies eager to rid their homes of their late husbands' war trophies have responded. Likewise, attics and cellars are being searched by some for rusted, inoperable relics that are worth far less than the $100 being paid.

"Nobody's gonna sell their gun for $100," one Buffalo lad told a television reporter last week. The kid showed real street sense and a remarkable grasp of economics, and I wondered whether the good people of Buffalo might be better served with him as their mayor.

Still, at the recent presidential debate, just two of the Democratic candidates raised their hands when the moderator asked whether they'd ever kept a gun in their house. One of those was my homeboy Dennis Kucinich, who still lives in the working-class neighborhood he grew up in near W. 125th Street in Cleveland.

Home invasions and burglaries are fairly common occurrences there, and because of Kucinich's outspoken and often controversial nature, he's had more than his share of death threats as well.

But the refusal of all of the candidates to make political hay out of the Virginia Tech tragedy gives me hope. Just as no Republican can win in New York advocating the overturn of Roe v. Wade, no Democrat can win in Georgia or Texas on an anti-gun platform.

The successful Republican presidential candidates have mastered the art of paying lip service to the anti-abortionists and then doing absolutely nothing to restrict the practice once they're elected. Now, after seven years of Republican control of both the House and the Senate, and with George W. Bush in the White House, they are farther away than ever from achieving their goals.

Hopefully, the Democrats will do the same for the anti-gun fringe in their own party.

Niagara Falls Reporter www.niagarafallsreporter.com May 22 2007