Kerry claims Bush bowed to gun lobby over ban

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The Independent US

As a ban on assault weapons expired yesterday, John Kerry accused President George Bush of caving in to the powerful gun lobby and not fighting for an extension of the ban.

As a ban on assault weapons expired yesterday, John Kerry accused President George Bush of caving in to the powerful gun lobby and not fighting for an extension of the ban.

"George Bush made the job of terrorists easier and made law enforcement harder," the Democratic presidential challenger said as the 1994 ban on Uzis and 18 other military-style weapons lapsed for want of a congressional bill renewing it.

Despite the pressure from the police, and Mr Bush's promise to sign any new ban into law, there was never a chance this would happen, given the forthcoming election. Neither wants to alienate supporters of gun ownership, whose votes they are seeking.

Yesterday, Mr Kerry took care to emphasise that he supported the Second Amendment rights of gun owners. "I've been a hunter all my life," he said, as he set out a $5bn anti-crime agenda for the next 10 years, including a restoration of the ban.

Allowing the ban to lapse was "purely political", said Sarah Brady, a gun control activist whose husband, Jim Brady, was badly wounded in the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981. She said Mr Bush had shown "absolutely no leadership" on the issue.

Scott McClellan, the White House press spokesman, cited statistics showing that violent crime in 2003 held steady at a 30-year low.

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