Dr. C. Ronald Franks has shown aggressiveness and imagination in his campaign for the Senate Republican nomination, but in raffling off a Colt AR-15 H-BAR assault weapon to raise campaign funds, he showed insensitivity and irresponsibility bordering on the criminal. The crime? Possibly aiding and abetting some criminal's acquisition of a deadly weapon that Congress has voted to ban.
Dr. Franks says he would not agree to awarding the prize to a criminal or ex-criminal, but, apparently, he has taken no steps to make sure the anonymous winner is the sort of person who should have an AR-15 (whatever kind of person that is). And even a law-abiding owner's assault weapon can end up in a criminal's hand.
It is no crime in the eyes of many to show contempt of Congress, but Dr. Franks is guilty of that, too. He held his raffle just days after Congress approved the crime bill banning this weapon and just days before the ban was to go into effect. The public is massively in favor of the ban.
The final vote on the crime bill was 61-38 in the Senate he would like to enter. On a separate vote on just the assault weapons ban, both Maryland senators voted for it, as did both senators from Delaware, West Virginia and New Jersey, and one of the two from both Pennsylvania and Virginia. Regional breakdown: 10-2 for the ban. Dr. Franks is decidedly out of touch with public opinion in these parts.
Those opposed to gun bans like to say that assault weapons such as the one Dr. Franks raffled off are not involved in crime. But according to a recent report of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Colt AR-15, typically fitted with a 30-round magazine as shown below, was used in at least 1,802 crimes in 1990-93, including 212 narcotics cases, 39 instances of assaults and 106 murder cases.