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Going After
Big Apple 'Bully'

Fred Thompson says he enjoyed his time in New York, where he lived and worked while filming the hit television show Law & Order.

But he just felt a little naked walking around town without all his rights.

"Anybody who knows me knows I've always cared deeply about the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms," Thompson wrote today in an email to supporters. "So I've always felt sort of relieved when I flew back home to where that particular civil liberty gets as much respect as the rest of the Bill of Rights."

It doesn't take special reading glasses to see the veiled reference here to former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, whose views on gun control have the potential to turn off a big chunk of the Republican primary vote. Giuliani has tried to soften an opposition to gun use forged during his service as a federal prosecutor and carried on to his years as a tough-on-crime mayor. "I used gun control as mayor," he said at a news conference during a swing through California in February. But "I understand the Second Amendment. I understand the right to bear arms."
Giuliani's campaign web site makes the same case, minus the initial acknowledgement, saying:

"Rudy understands that what works in New York doesn't necessarily work in Mississippi or Montana."
Thompson's email makes a special effort to mention that "the same activist federal judge from Brooklyn who provided Mayor Giuliani's administration with the legal ruling it sought to sue gun makers, has done it again. Last week, he created a bizarre justification to allow New York City to sue out-of-state gun stores that sold guns that somehow ended up in criminal hands in the Big Apple."

The reference to that legal case comes at an interesting time, given the report in Tuesday's Washington Post that reveals that Thompson's new home state, Virginia, was the spigot for what law enforcement has called the "iron pipeline" because Virginia is among the top sources of guns recovered by authorities in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and South Carolina. In New York, more recovered guns came from Virginia than from any other outside state -- roughly one of 11 traced.

Thompson, however, takes a shot at New York's law suit, saying it has reinforced for him the "need to protect states from other states that interfered in free commerce beyond their borders - as New York is doing today. In this case, we need Federalism to protect states from a big bully in New York City."

But some New Yorkers liked the mayor's version of law and order more than Thompson did, at least according to Giuliani's communications director Katie Levinson.

"Those who live in New York in the real world -- not on TV -- know that Rudy Giuliani's record of making the city safe for families speaks for itself," she wrote . "No amount of political theater will change that."

--Matthew Mosk

By Washington Post editors  |  August 21, 2007; 7:30 PM ET
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