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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Gun Control Advocate Mourns Passing of President Ford

Gun control supporters lost a good friend with the passing of former president Gerald Ford, according to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign/Center to Prevent Gun Violence.

Ford's gun control positions go back to his decades representing his Michigan district in the U.S. House of Representatives, Helmke says.

"During his days in Congress, Ford supported efforts to ban cheap handguns (known as 'Saturday Night Specials'). As president, he pushed fora 15-day waiting period for handguns. In 1992, he joined former presidents Reagan, Carter, and Nixon in supporting the Brady Bill which provided for background checks on sales by licensed dealers. In June 2004, Ford joined former presidents Clinton and Carter in urging the renewal of the ban on assault weapons," he says.

As a member of the Warren Commission which investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and the target of two different gun assaults himself in 1975, President Ford was personally aware of the costs of gun violence to individuals as well as to the U.S. system of government, Helmke says.

"President Ford's support as a Republican for reasonable restrictions to make the misuse of guns more unlikely reminds us of the strong supportt his issue has had historically from both of the major political parties. Efforts to increase public safety and protect the interests of individuals who want to live in communities free from threats of gun violence should not be seen as the sole province of one major party and not the other," he says. "President Ford, on this issue as well as so many others, adopted apragmatic approach with the goal of doing what was best for our country and its citizens.

Helmke also mourned Ford as a fellow Republican.

"On a personal note, too, I always admired President Ford," he says. "As a fellow Midwestern Republican with degrees from the Big Ten as well as Yale Law School, I followed his career closely. As I mention in a story in the Fort Wayne News Sentinel today, his comments were one of the main reasons prompting me to run for the first of my three terms as mayor of Fort Wayne in 1987. I thanked him for his role in my political career as well as thecountry's when I had the chance to spend some time with him in 1995."

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