Jon Dougherty has an article on sf-indymedia.org about Bush's support of the assault weapons ban. More accurately it's about Bush losing the votes of gun owners over his support for an extension of the ban.
"There is no such thing as gun control, only incremental gun prohibition," said Brian Puckett, co-founder of national gun-rights organization Citizens of America, of the ban itself. "Gun owners must grasp another political reality, which is: Allowing the government to get away with dictating the features of some guns sets the judicial, legislative and psychological precedent for allowing them to dictate the features of all guns."
"Our gun-rights organization, along with many others, took a stand for Bush in and after the 2000 election," [Angel] Shamaya [, founder and executive director of the KeepAndBearArms.com website] told WorldNetDaily. "From urging even Libertarians and third-party voters to support him to helping account for 'lost' military votes in case it came down to that, we fought to turn the Texas governor into a president. If supporting a semi-automatic rifle ban – the Feinstein/Clinton gun ban, no less – is how he intends to repay us, he's lost his marbles."
"I was surprised and disappointed to learn of the report of the president's support for continuing the ban on homeland-security rifles, aka semi-auto rifles," said Larry Pratt, executive director of Virginia-based Gun Owners of America, a group with 300,000 members nationwide. "I am also puzzled. Why would George Bush want to help Democrats? The issue, when it was opposed by most Republicans, cost Democrats the House in 1994 and the White House in 2000," Pratt said. "Banning the homeland-security rifle is pure Washington, but anti-Constitution and anti-homeland security."
"Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, also decried the current ban and does not support the president's position to renew it"
As a side note there is a mention about a group who is fighting a campaign against the NAACP's lawsuit against gun makers:
"One retailer/activist, Concealed Carry Inc., of Oak Brook, Ill., has even begun a campaign to "cooperate with the NAACP" and is refusing to sell firearms to blacks. "I am going to use the broad authority granted me as a federally licensed gun dealer to prevent straw purchases by denying sales to African-Americans. To insure fairness, there will be no exceptions," said John Birch, president of Concealed Carry Inc. He said he'll continue to ban sales to African-Americans "until the NAACP asks us to, at which point we will be pleased to resume sales."
On the surface this may seem a bit racist, but I believe the point is that the NAACP's main argument in the lawsuit centers on gun manufacturers selling arms to black people which are used in crimes. So they want the NAACP to either condone their refusal to sell arms to black people in which case the NAACP would more or less admit prejudice against black people, or they want the NAACP to condemn their refusal to sell arms to black people, in which case the NAACP would have contradicted their main argument in their lawsuit. A risky strategy but possibly effective. Of course I highly doubt the NAACP will address the issue one way or the other. That'd be as foolish as suing a manufacturer for the illegal use of its product!
Getting back to Bush: I am not surprised by his decision to support a renewal of the assualt weapons ban. If I remember correctly it was something he mentioned during his campaign. But this is not hte only thing Bush has done to betray gun owners who believed he was the answer to their prayers. So far he has asked the Supreme Court to not hear two potentially important firearms cases where the seceond amendment was a key part of the defense ( Emerson, involving owning arms despite a restraining order & the other's name I forget but it involved a challenge to the NFA of 1934, which is so easy to prove violative of the Constitution most 6th graders could do it). Bush has promoted & expanded Project Exile, a program which mandates strict enforcement of all federal gun laws ( in the back, lemme hear ya,"all federal firearms laws are constitutionally prohibited") & the Attorney General, through his subordinates have been active in defending any challenges to federal firearms laws they have encountered. That includes the current challenge to Washington D.C.'s gun ban & the Bean case, in which a man convicted as a felon in Mexico for possessing shotgun shells in his car ( not a shotgun, just ammunition) not only did time in the U.S. but lost his federal Firearms License. Unfortunately Ashcroft's employee was succesful in convincing the Supre Court that Mr. Bean did not have grounds for seeking relief, & they unanimously decided that they could not undo what federal & mexican law had done. BTW, in the opinion, they opined that the BATF, not a court was in a better position to determine whether or not a person was fit to have his Right to Arms restored. & yes, Bush is partly responsible for that, as Ashcroft is subordinate to him & Bush raised no objections to any of Ashcroft's actions. & let's not forget Ashcroft's comments about the second amendment: he stated that the second amendment confers an individual Right, subject to reaonable governmental restrictions. The problem with that is a definition of 'reasonable'. Not only do I not see the 'reasonable restriction' language anywhere in the constitution, but if we were to concede that point then it comes down to bartering over which guns they will prohibit last. After all, sarah Brady thinks she's being 'reasonable'. Nope, some Rights are Absolute. Any concessions at all concerning our Right to own &/or possess arms is a slope that will lead to a complete prohibition. (for an interesting read, look at Eugene Volokh's The Mechanisms Of The Slippery Slope)
Bush is not a friend of gun owners. Perhaps though it can be said that he is much more gun-friendly than Gore would have been. But there is a flaw in that conclusion. Gore would have been viewed closely on anything he did that was gun related. & rightly so. But chances are he wouldn't have been able to get away with much. Bush on the other hand was generally viewed as a pro-gun president & a lot of gun owners relaxed. They either haven't been paying attention to Bush or they have been justifying his actions but still believing deep down he was pro-gun. These are the people that were surprised by Bush's support of extending the assault weapons ban. Would they have been caught off guard by Gore doing the same thing? Probably not. & there is the chance that Gore wouldn't have done something that would alienate so many potential voters, especially considering those same voters would not be naturally inclined to vote for him anyway. So I feel that through the vigilance of the voters & political pressure Gore might not have made a statement of support for the assault weapons ban. Even if he did it would've been much easier to counter politically. It would have possible drawn oppossition from congressmen who would vote for extending the assault weapons ban under a republican president who also supported it.
Theoretics aside I would urge people not to vote for Bush. With few exceptions I've found that Democrats & Republicans are both willing to support existing gun control laws & even create new gun control laws. The main difference is that re[ublicans are better at covering this up. Ron Paul is an exception. Marilyn Musgrave is another. Alan Keyes is yet another. There are others that I'm sure I've left out, however Bush is not one of them.
So if you decide to not vote for Bush, don't vote Democrat (unless the candidate seems very different than the stereotypical Democrat) & don't stay at home. Vote Libertarian, or some other thrid party whose candidate has his priorities straight. Actually if you want to change the Republican party, nothing will do it quicker than having a Libertarian walk away with 20% or 30% of votes that would have went to Bush. It might just scare them into line. If not it might give the Libertarians enough exposure to win next time around.
Personally I don't think any Libertarian, or any third party candidate for that matter, has much of a chance of winning any major office. But I would much rather 'waste' my vote on someone whom I agree with, than vote for a winner that will sell me out at the first oppurtunity.