President Bush, hitting the road again for the 16th travel day of his 62-day-old presidency, took another half step Wednesday in his slowly developing position on gun control.
“I do believe in the legitimate right of sportsmen and others who own guns, but I also believe in supporting our police officers who lay their lives on the line,” he said.
Gesturing to Delaware state troopers arrayed behind him as he spoke, Bush noted that he is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Assn., then added: “I happen to believe that the vast majority of NRA members support the position I’ve just taken--that the time has come to do something about these automated weapons that are threatening the lives of these people behind me.”
Although Bush offered no specifics on what he would propose to do, his remarks drew loud and spontaneous applause, a sharp contrast with the friendly but low-key response that greeted the rest of his speech to law enforcement officials here and an earlier talk at a Lancaster, Pa., high school.
Speaking to students and parents in Lancaster, a small city in a semirural part of Pennsylvania, whose local drug problem recently was highlighted on a television news show, Bush delivered anti-drug messages that his drug policy adviser William J. Bennett has been emphasizing.
To “movie producers and the movie directors and those involved in the entertainment business,” he said, “put an end to the glorification or humorous treatment of narcotics.”
“To the so-called ‘casual’ user: Face up to the fact that your so-called ‘recreational’ drug use contributes to the drug culture--to the crime, the death and degradation.”
He also praised a drug education program--DARE, Drug Abuse Resistance Education--that was started in Los Angeles in 1983 as a project pushed by police Chief Daryl F. Gates. The program, which sends uniformed officers into schools to coach students on resisting peer pressure to take drugs, will reach 3 million students in 45 states this year, Bush said.
Salutes Amish Values
In a meeting afterwards with Amish community leaders, he saluted that tightly knit religious community, whose members eschew most trappings of modern life, for the values that have allowed their children almost totally to avoid drug involvement.
A little later in the day, Bush visited a far different environment, an inner-city YMCA in Wilmington, where he talked to children who participate in a karate class as part of an anti-drug program.
When one child asked how he kept drugs out of his life, Bush responded that “now that I’m President, it would be pretty hard for some drug guy to come into the White House and start offering it up, you know. It’s different, we’ve got a lot of Secret Service guys there.”