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Only shots are heard 

Mindful of the National Rifle Association’s continuing clamor for more and deadlier weapons, a Little Rock gentleman called the other day and suggested that some criticism of the NRA might be in order following the Virginia Tech massacre.

The word “contrarian” has been hijacked by the Radical Right in recent years and now it usually seems to mean “one who repeats what’s said by Rush Limbaugh.” But our friend is a contrarian of the old school, that is, “one who dissents from the prevailing view.”

The prevailing view on Virginia Tech is that promulgated by the NRA and disseminated by conservative pundits, who have a numerical advantage over liberal pundits similar to what Santa Anna enjoyed at the Alamo. A person can’t pick up the paper, turn on the TV or check the e-mail without being told that scoundrels in the media and government have seized on Virginia Tech as an excuse to promote gun control — the bastards — when what’s really needed is a surge in the gun supply. The scoundrels don’t get a word in edgewise.

No overdog plays underdog better than the NRA. Rich from the subsidies of firearm manufacturers, it buys or intimidates lawmakers — Jesus of Nazareth couldn’t command the loyalty of the Arkansas legislature as fully as the NRA does — while its allies in the media shield it from criticism. You’d think the slaughter at Virginia Tech would have people at least talking about limits on the availability of guns, but none dare, aside from our bold Little Rocker. The NRA seems to have succeeded in making the Second Amendment more cherished than the First.

Here Comes Huck

Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee continues to impress the kind of people who vote in Republican primaries. An Arkansas Democrat-Gazette report on a Huckabee appearance before the country’s biggest newspaper publishers suggested that the magnates snuggled right up to our former governor. Republicans don’t come any stauncher than this group, and while they’re unlikely to part with large sums of cash — to candidates or employees — they can be generous with favorable coverage in their newspapers. “Very thoughtful” one high media muckety-muck said of Huckabee. Another, complimenting him on his appearance on Comedy Central television shows, called him “genuine and quick-witted.” The quick-witted part is certainly right. Huckabee does well on shows like The Colbert Report. (And it’s not as easy as it looks. U.S. Rep. Vic Snyder has appeared with Colbert too. He should avoid such venues in the future.)

Huckabee’s chances may be better than we’d thought. How many of the other Republican candidates could be described as “thoughtful,” “genuine” and “quick-witted”? Or even “acceptable”?

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