- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 15, 2002

The gun-control lobby has characterized moderate Republican gubernatorial candidate Robert L. Ehrlich as an "extremist" notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Ehrlich has voted, among other things, in favor of mandatory, criminal background checks for would-be gun buyers and does not support the right to carry concealed weapons, even for those who do pass background checks. He criticized fellow Republicans last year over a raffle that was held under GOP auspices where the winner was to have received a handgun as the door prize. "My wife wouldn't let me own a gun," he told The Washington Post recently. "I don't shoot; I play golf." Even gun-rights groups such as the National Rife Association have been lukewarm in their support of Mr. Ehrlich, who hopes to become the first Republican governor of Maryland in many years.

That fact the possibility of a Republican governor in Maryland explains more than anything else the rabid, near-hysterical attacks directed at Mr. Ehrlich by groups such as the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. The group is spending more than $250,000 to make sure that not even a moderate Republican such as Mr. Ehrlich gets anywhere near the state's highest office. The group's president, Michael D. Barnes, has described Mr. Ehrlich as a "strong ally" of the NRA and holds that his conditional, moderate view of gun rights that law-abiding citizens have a constitutional right to keep and bear arms is "an extremist view." For the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and other such groups, only a total ban on the private ownership of handguns is the reasonable, mainstream view. To depart from that curious orthodoxy, as Mr. Ehrlich and most other Americans have, is tantamount to endorsing school shootings and gang violence at least in the eyes of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, et al.

And that, of course, is nonsense a despicable attempt to taint legitimate gun owners, and those who support the constitutional right to keep and bear arms, as somehow responsible for the criminal actions of a relative handful of thugs and ne'er do wells. "Disliking guns," said Mr. Ehrlich, "is a legitimate viewpoint. But it boils basically down to the legal perspective: Is gun ownership an individual right or a collective right? I believe the U.S. Constitution grants that right to the individual." And for holding to that view, Mr. Ehrlich is under assault for his supposed "extremism" by a group that is the very embodiment of the term.

Maryland voters should consider Mr. Ehrlich's legislative record and principled views not the stilted rantings of the gun-control lobby when selecting their next governor this fall.


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