- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Both sides of the Second Amendment debate are taking action in advance of the November election. The gun grabbers want to get as much of their agenda done while President Obama is still in office. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a group that never lets a tragedy go to waste, stooped low to influence Wednesday’s presidential debate.

The group lined up relatives of some of those killed in the Aurora, Colo., theater shooting to pen a letter on Monday that appealed to debate moderator Jim Lehrer to ask the candidates a loaded question.

“To ignore the problem of gun violence in a state where two of the worst shootings in U.S. history took place — Aurora and Columbine — would not only be noticeable by its absence but would slight the memories of our loved ones killed,” they wrote. The letter gives no specifics on what new laws could have stopped a determined murderer in a gun-free zone.

In California, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill Friday extending his state’s ban on openly carried handguns to rifles and shotguns. The new law will make it a misdemeanor in the Golden State to carry an unloaded weapon in public, with only a few exceptions.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel isn’t satisfied with the Windy City’s absolute carry ban or registration requirements for guns and ammunition. He launched a social media initiative this week asking people to tweet some more gun control ideas his way. Some respondents proposed setting up meetings with famous Chicagoans in exchange for turning in a gun. Most of the other top tweets were suggestions from people who support the legal ability to carry concealed for self-defense.

Instead of involving or informing citizens, the District is hiding data. My editorial in this newspaper last week exposed the discrepancy between the rising violent crime rates listed on the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and Chief Cathy L. Lanier’s claims that crime is down. The entire police crime-mapping feature has since been removed from the website. MPD spokesman Gwendolyn Crump said they converted to a new data management system, and the site should be back up “soon.”

D.C. residents have good reason to worry about rising crime. Likewise, gun owners are right to worry that Mr. Obama would revive the “assault weapons” ban. So guns and ammunition are flying off the shelf. According to the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the number of FBI background checks used for gun purchases is up 12.5 percent so far this year. Leading up to the November election, checks are rising at a hotter, 16 percent pace for August and September.

The industry has been reporting historic sales numbers all year. In September, gunmaker Smith & Wesson says it saw sales jump 48.3 percent for the latest quarter. The company’s production lines can’t even keep up with demand, leaving $392 million in orders backlogged — a 164 percent increase from the same quarter last year.

Opponents and detractors of the right to self-defense can at least agree on one thing: The choice voters make on Nov. 6 is going to make a difference.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.