Congressman Charlie Dent represents a district pretty close to where I live. Late in February he offered an early endorsement for Mayor Giuliani. Copy of relevant press release here. This may matter a little more than allegedly savvy and cynical pundits may think.
You see, one of the only areas in which the Mayor and I disagree concerns the scope of the Second Amendment. I understand where Giuliani is coming from: He was mayor of a gigantic urban area with a crime problem to match. Gun laws made it easier for him to rein in that problem, in my opinion mostly as a way to arrest people that needed to be arrested, perhaps for things other than gun violations. Giuliani’s success in making New York safer by itself outshines any other allegedly tangible accomplishments other aspirants to the presidency may care to boast about.
The Mayor has since essentially made a Federalist argument regarding the Second Amendment. Perhaps, he says, gun laws should be different in New York City and New Orleans than in central Pennsylvania, Tennessee, or Wyoming. This is an argument that works for me. I am a “laboratories of democracy” type of cat.
Congressman Dent, as it happens, represents a district that is largely comprised of constituents who feel pretty strongly that an armed society makes for a polite society. Does anyone outside of his district give a fig who he endorses? Not really. A least not as far as I know, but what I don’t know is a whole lot. But Dent has a darned good rating from the NRA. If the Mayor can bring him on board, it bodes well. We Second Amendment absolutists can be awfully Manichean. See the the Jim Zumbo affair, brought to my attention by National Review’s inestimable John Derbyshire. Threaten our gun rights even a little, and we become suspicious. After all, there’s no telling where your meddling will stop. You may start telling us we can’t smoke, or eat veal, or begin restricting our charitable contributions.
Some think Dent endorsed Giuliani as part of a political quid pro quo. Giuliani did campaign for him, after all. Well, so what? It shows Giuliani has no problem with Dent’s NRA rating, and if that’s good enough for Charlie Dent it should be good enough for our country’s hunters, target shooters, gun collectors, and those, like me, who think in principle a populace should be well armed.