Gun Debate Heats Up

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - A White House Conference on teen-violence, slated for May 2nd right after the first anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School, has drawn a sharp rebuke from the Republican National Committee which accused President Clinton of trying to exploit the tragedy for political purposes.

The conference will be hosted by the president and First Lady-New York Senate hopeful Hillary Rodham Clinton and will be held shortly after the first year anniversary of the shootings at the Littleton, Colorado high school in which two students killed 13 people, before committing suicide.

RNC Jim Nicholson accused the Clinton-Gore Administration of having exploited the Columbine and other school shootings and being guilty of having "shamelessly politicized and taken advantage of national tragedies."

According to a White House issued statement, the meeting will consider the issues facing young people, as well as the impact of the Internet on them. The agenda will also address issues of concern to parents and what communities can do to avoid or minimize risky behavior among children.

On the presidential campaign trail Vice President Al Gore made tougher gun control measures an issue during a weekend visit to San Jose, CA., and criticized Texas Gov. George W. Bush's stance on concealed weapons, including the right to bring a gun into a church. Gore promised, if elected, he would propose a federal ban on carrying a concealed weapon into a house of worship.

In 1995, Bush signed into law a bill that allows residents to carry concealed weapons. The legislation, which was opposed by the Texas Police Chiefs Association, was amended in 1997 to permit people to carry concealed weapons into places of worship, unless the church posts a sign in English or Spanish, detailing what rules it has on the matter.

"I say pistols have no place in our pews," Gore said and added, "Look at Gov. Bush's' record...lax law enforcement of gun laws, more concealed weapons, guns in church. American deserves better. Our children deserve better." Gore also insisted a church should not have to post a sign in order to keep guns out.

Texas is one of 29 states which permit residents to carry concealed weapons, as does Tennessee, Gore's home state. "If Al Gore was really opposed to concealed weapons and guns in churches, why didn't he speak out when a concealed weapons law was passed in his home state in 1994, where residents can also carry guns in churches," said Ari Fleischer, a Bush spokesman.

Gore also accused the Bush supported law of allowing people to carry concealed weapons to school events, an allegation hotly refuted by Bush spokesman Dan Bartlett. "The Texas penal code prohibits any guns at schools or school events...once again it shows Al Gore will say anything to get elected."

But Doug Hattaway, a Gore spokesman countered the Texas law is "ambiguous" when it comes to taking a concealed weapon to school events.