- The Washington Times - Monday, May 15, 2000

Misfire?

The "Million Mom March" is history. What isn't is the impact yesterday's calls for gun control will have on Congress.

Hopefully, not much, says John R. Lott Jr., past John M. Olin Law and Economics Fellow at the University of Chicago School of Law who now is a senior researcher at Yale. He's author of the eye-opening book, "More Guns, Less Crime."

Its conclusion: "Mass public shootings are dramatically reduced once law-abiding citizens in a state are allowed to carry concealed handguns."

Mr. Lott notes that there are already more than 20,000 gun-control laws on the books nationwide. The marching mothers yesterday demanded more.

"The question is, does the net effect of this [gun-control movement] save lives or cost lives?" Mr. Lott asked Inside the Beltway during an interview Friday.

"More lives will be in danger," he concluded.

Being Frank

"That's a first!"

Former Christian Coalition Executive Director Ralph Reed, learning that Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, agreed with him that one-day events such as yesterday's Million Mom March waste months and even years of organizational effort and is a poor substitute for more effective kinds of action.

Burdening Bill

Former Arkansas Democrat Sen. David Pryor, founder of the Clinton Legal Expense Trust, says contributions to help President and Mrs. Clinton pay off their legal debts have declined considerably.

"As you know, the cost to defend the legal actions of the independent counsel investigation and the Paula Jones lawsuit have been enormous," Mr. Pryor writes in a progress report for the president's supporters.

To date, he adds, the legal bills for which the Clintons are personally liable total "well over $10 million."

Unfortunately for the Clintons, the Office of the Independent Counsel continues its investigation of the first family, setting no wind-up date. In fact, the president could still be indicted once he leaves the sanctuary of the Oval Office in January.

"While the magnitude of the First Family's recent legal bills has declined, the total continues to grow," says Mr. Pryor, who counts more than 70,000 Americans contributing $6 million to help the Clintons pay their bills.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pryor is appealing to those who have already contributed to the Clinton trust to do so again, noting "our rate of contributions has declined."

The president has made "many accomplishments that have improved life in our nation," he says, and he and Mrs. Clinton "deserve a better thanks than a huge legal bill that will burden their life after the White House."

One last yell

South Carolina lawmakers are one step away from lowering the Confederate battle flag from atop the Capitol dome, but the rebel banner's not done flying yet.

"I will go down fighting to keep the flag above the dome," South Carolina Republican state Rep. Ronald Fleming tells Inside the Beltway in a telephone interview. "The flag is a symbol of honor and history for the thousands who fought and died for what they believed in, and that is state's rights. You can't erase history."

Meanwhile, due to publicity over the flag controversy, more and more people are contacting the Statehouse to request flags that have flown above the Capitol.

"There is a long waiting list," says Mr. Fleming.

In fact, Mr. Fleming predicts a worsening of race relations now that the House voted 62-48 last Thursday to move the flag to a Confederate soldier monument on Statehouse grounds.

"I truly believe that instead of bettering race relations, it will hurt race relations, as there are people will hold animosity for bringing the flag down," he says.

The House bill sets a July 1 date to lower the flag a final time.

Finding salvation

Now that New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani admits to having a girlfriend, "the media and other Democrats" are singing a different tune to the question, "Does sex matter?"

"In their minds, Rudy is in trouble," says Washington lawyer and political pundit Christopher Horner, who suggests that Mr. Giuliani, to make himself right with the left, embark upon Bill Clinton's five-step plan to salvation, to wit:

1. "Bomb another city to change the subject, and may I suggest Newark?

2. "Lie about it under oath, and somehow obstruct justice in relation to his activities.

3. "Imply to the press that your lover is unbalanced, a stalker maybe.

4. "Maintain for months and at great public expense that, whatever the two of you did, it wasn't sex … until a soiled garment emerges.

5. "Then, mount the podium and announce, 'Even mayors have private lives.' "

Says Mr. Horner, "If it sounds familiar, it should."

A proper apology …

… to Ms. Ingeborg Wagner Kolodney after we mistook her for a "Mr." in last Friday's column. We shall now be the first to sign up for the former director of the Viennese Opera Ball's etiquette seminar for success at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel on May 31.

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