- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

They were only expecting 200. They got more. Many more. Organizers with Rocky Mountain Gun Owners, a Colorado grass-roots gun-rights organization, had planned a free, four-hour firearms training course for local teachers Monday evening. More than 300 teachers showed up for the event in Broomfield — which coincided with the introduction of the Colorado Teacher Carry Bill in the state Senate. The bill would empower school boards to allow teachers to carry a firearm if they have a concealed-weapons permit.

“Colorado teachers have been beating down our doors to receive firearms training. They don’t want their students to be a victim of the next Adam Lanza,” observes Dudley Brown, executive director of the group, referring to the shooter in the Newtown, Conn., massacre.

“They came here for training because they want the next Adam Lanza to face the barrel of a .45.”

‘Immediate protection for all’

Wayne LaPierre has a date with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday for a gun violence hearing. His message will be clear. “Law-abiding gun owners will not accept blame for the acts of violent or deranged criminals. Nor do we believe the government should dictate what we can lawfully own and use to protect our families,” says the CEO of the National Rifle Association, in prepared testimony released ahead of his appearance.

“Proposing more gun control laws while failing to enforce the thousands we already have is not a serious solution to reducing crime. We need to be honest about what works and what does not work. Proposals that would only serve to burden the law-abiding have failed in the past and will fail in the future,” Mr. La Pierre will tell his audience.

He adds, “But there are things that can be done and we ask you to join with us. The NRA is made up of millions of Americans who support what works. The immediate protection for all — not just some — of our school children. Swift, certain prosecution of criminals with guns, and fixing our broken mental health system.”

The NRA, meanwhile, has sent out a rallying call of its own. “You can bet the anti-gunners will be trying to mobilize their supporters to pack the hearing room, so we need to make sure the room is filled with supporters of the Second Amendment,” proclaims an email message to some 4 million members.

Why they argue

“Of 17 U.S. policy areas, gun laws spark the greatest difference between Republicans and Democrats in terms of their satisfaction with the nation’s policies in each area,” says Gallup analyst Jeffrey Jones. “Fifty-nine percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats are satisfied with U.S. gun laws, a difference of 31 percentage points.”

Immigration policy also presents a huge partisan difference: 23 percent of the Republicans are satisfied with the level of immigration in the U.S., compared to 46 percent of the Democrats. And in third place? A quarter of Republicans are satisfied with the amount Americans pay in federal income taxes; 47 percent of Democrats agree.

“Party supporters differ most starkly on three policy areas that will be a major focus of the Obama administration this year: gun policy, immigration and federal taxes. That clearly creates a situation in which the two parties likely disagree on the need or urgency of government action in these areas, which makes passing legislation to address these issues more challenging,” Mr. Jones predicts.

Historic immigration

“We have a national interest in knowing how many people our country can accommodate.”

— Then-Sen. Alan K. Simpson, Wyoming Republican, speaking on immigration to ABC News, April 8, 1990.

The changing cast

Very liberal James Carville and sensible Republican Mary Matalin, the original “he said, she said” political couple, are no longer commentators for CNN, as of Tuesday. The network and the pair cite their distance from Washington as the biggest driver here. The couple live in New Orleans; CNN wished they lived on Capitol Hill.

Erick Erickson is something else again. The co-founder of the conservative RedState.com joined the network in 2010 with much ado, a symbol that CNN hoped to attract a wider audience and perhaps draw the attention of Fox News loyalists. Easier said then done. Mr. Erickson is also departing CNN and is bound for Fox News.

“For all those liberals who lost money thinking Keith Olbermann would outlast me at Current TV, well, sorry,” Mr. Erickson says. “Me at CNN was not an easy fit. The first month was tumultuous with several tumultuous times throughout. I liked to think of myself as job security for the public relations department. About the only thing the far right and far left could agree on was that I did not belong at CNN.”

He adds, “For three years I have received unmitigated hate and loathing from the left and, ironically, from a lot of folks on the right. Frankly, I’d like to thank some significant people responsible for my time at CNN, but they know who they are, and it’d just generate hate mail for them so I better not.”

Poll du jour

• 76 percent of Americans agree that public high schools “should be allowed to sponsor prayer before football games.”

• 53 percent of Americans believe that “God rewards athletes who have faith with good health and success.”

• 72 percent of “minority Christians,” 67 percent of white evangelicals, 56 percent of Catholics and 49 percent of mainline Protestants agree.

• 50 percent overall approve of athletes expressing their faith publicly.

• 60 percent of minority Christians, 77 percent of white evangelicals, 46 percent of Catholics and 47 percent of mainline Protestants agree.

• 27 percent overall says God plays a role in determining what team wins a sporting event; 25 percent of Republicans and 28 percent of Democrats agree.

• 40 percent of minority Christians, 38 percent of white evangelicals, 29 percent of Catholics and 19 percent of mainline Protestants also agree.

Source: A Public Religion Research Institute poll of 1,033 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 16 to 20.

• Murmurs and asides to jharper@washingtontimes.com.