Opportunism Knocks

Although so far no athletes have demanded equal time, that's about the only group that doesn't plan to spill its agenda into a town-hall meeting, public forum or summit. The biggest one, of course, hits town Saturday.

The National Rifle Association spent good money planning its annual convention in Denver--not to mention lobbying the Colorado Legislature to pass assorted concealed-weapons laws, including one that would have exempted gun manufacturers from any pesky lawsuits. And even after supporters withdrew that proposed legislation last week, the NRA still wanted some bang for its bucks.

"Dear NRA Member," read the letter signed by Charlton Heston and Wayne LaPierre within hours of the shootings, "We had long looked forward to the 1999 Denver meeting and exhibitions as a time to conduct necessary NRA business, enjoy your fellowship, express our unity and celebrate our precious freedoms. But the tragedy in Littleton last Tuesday calls upon us to take steps to modify our schedule to show our profound sympathy and respect for the families and communities in the Denver area in their time of great loss.

"For that reason, we have canceled the Exhibit Hall Exposition and all other seminars, luncheons and festive ceremonies normally associated with our annual gathering. Instead, we will only conduct the Annual Meeting of Members at 10 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, in the Colorado Convention Center, as required by New York not-for-profit statutes which govern our Bylaws...Our spirits must endure this terrible suffering together, and so must the freedoms that bring us together. We must stand in somber but unshakable unity, even in this time of anguish."

As a consolation prize for the loss of those "festive ceremonies," Heston and LaPierre promised to "make a major address on the crisis all Americans now face, and we will do all we can to help your voice be heard." In the meantime, both Heston and LaPierre have made sure their voices are heard on newscast after newscast, blaming pop culture, blaming parents--but never blaming the guns used to kill those kids.

Others have made the connection, however. House Majority Leader Doug Dean--who displayed his exquisite insensitivity to the situation by polling fellow Republicans before he agreed to drop the concealed-weapons legislation--claims his family has been getting threatening phone calls since the shootings. According to Dean, the threats--which come as news to the Colorado Springs cops--may cause him to abandon his political career.

At last, a golden opportunity--and one small silver lining.

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