Guns Don’t Kill People; Olympic Athletes Do

Two months ago, Chatterbox wrote an item praising Bill Bradley for turning the tables on Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts when Donaldson asked Bradley, on ABC’s This Week, whether he’d ever used any illegal drugs. (For a full transcript of the broadcast, click here.) Chatterbox continues to admire Bradley for firing back, “Have you?” and “Have you, Cokie?” and “George [Will]? Who wants to know?” And Chatterbox continues to find amusing Roberts’ desperate attempts to change the subject (“Senator, on guns and violence” and “Can we get to guns and violence?” and “The–you wrote an Op-Ed on guns”) after she gave Bradley the ridiculous non-answer that “I was so pregnant during those years.” (As Chatterbox observed in the earlier item, Roberts has only two kids.)

But Chatterbox was too beguiled by this little operetta to notice at the time that once Bradley finally permitted Roberts to change the subject, it was Bradley who gave Roberts a nonsensical answer. Let’s pick the dialogue up where Chatterbox’s previous item left off.

At first, Bradley more than held his own:

COKIE: The–you wrote an Op-Ed on guns.BRADLEY: Yes.COKIE: Why not ban all handguns? Why just leave it to Saturday-night specials?BRADLEY: Well I would ban Saturday-night specials.COKIE: I know.BRADLEY: And ever since I saw Robert Kennedy in a pool of blood on the floor of the Ambassador Hotel, the picture of it, in 1968, I thought any president should ban Saturday-night specials. I think that with regard to all handguns, we should have system of registration and licensing, just like we do for automobiles. If we can do it for automobiles, we ought to be able to do it to handguns. We ought to take gun dealers out of residential neighborhoods. We ought to make it a felony, not a misdemeanor, if you sell a gun to somebody who is underage or who is a felon himself. And I think that we ought to put trigger locks on guns. And I think, finally, that we ought to have background checks for people who buy guns at the gun shows.

But then Roberts came up with a very good question:

COKIE: But why not just get rid of them?BRADLEY: Get rid of all guns? I think that getting rid of all guns …COKIE [Nice try, slick]: Handguns.BRADLEY [Uh oh]: Getting rid of all handguns. Well, I mean, what are we going to [do] with the pentathlonteam in the Olympics? [You may have heard that I captained the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic basketball team in 1964 …] They’ve got to have handguns. That’s an event in the Olympics. There are several other exceptions. So I believe that we can have commonsense …ROBERTS [I’m ready for ya!]: England got rid of handguns after the shootings in Scotland, and they participate in the Olympics.BRADLEY [Time to try a little bluster]: Well the point is, then they haven’t gotten rid of all the handguns, have they?SAM [Teach you to ask me bullying questions about my past drug use, beanpole]: How many angels can dance on the head of a pin, Senator?BRADLEY [Yo Sam, thanks for overplaying your hand, as usual, with rudeness]: Well enough to answer this question the way I want to answer it.

By then, time had run out on the interview, leaving Roberts no chance to ask the logical follow-up: “Do you favor a handgun ban that would allow an exception for members of the Olympic pentathlon team, like they apparently have in England?” To which Bradley would almost certainly have answered, “No.” Which would have undercut (though, of course, not eliminated) Bradley’s status as Bravest Candidate on Gun Control.

Pedant’s corner: Roberts might also have pointed out that the guns used in the Olympic pentathlon are air pistols, not exactly at the top of Sarah Brady’s wish list of firearms to ban.