One of the biggest problems in our society is what to do with the boundless energy (and appetites, political and otherwise) of our current governor and former mayor, Ed Rendell, when he's forced to leave office in 2011. Since the job that he really wants and is best suited for, commissioner of baseball, is roadblocked for life, options once looked slim.
However, maybe by accident, maybe by design, he seems to have found his voice, as the governor of a "Deer Hunter" state with a common sense approach to gun control that could, and should, carry over to Washington someday, With a big assist to Crooks and Liars, here's some of what Rendell said about guns on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" earlier this week (transcript via Nexis):
I realize that gun control is a very divisive issue. So I'm not sure that it shouldn't be tabled until we've done some of these things. But sooner or later, we have to act and we have to act, in my judgment, on a multitude of fronts and we have to understand two things, the NRA is right when they say we should have stronger law enforcement. There's no question about that. In Pennsylvania, Joe, in the last 15 years, our prison population has increased by a third.
Judges are putting violent criminals in jail for longer periods of time.
During that same period over the last six years, assaults by firearms on police have grown in Pennsylvania by 76 percent. Since the assault weapon ban was lifted, 40 policemen have either been killed or seriously wounded with assault weapons that would have previously been banned.
So I think the time has come for us to start listening to our police, and our police are almost uniform in telling us that the assault weapon ban should come back, not just to get rid of these weapons that have no purpose for hunting, no purpose for sport, that put out a tremendous amount of fire with significant impact and are designed to only kill and maim.
Every police group says we need to get rid of them....
Rendell also said that in a secret ballot, sensible gun control would get 300-350 votes in Congress, and he concluded that "I think we can all agree on what reasonable gun control is and what responsible and reasonable gun ownership is and they both can coexist."
Of course, for better or worse, Rendell -- lacking a valid Lt. Gov. -- is stuck in Harrisburg until the end of his term. However, as he himself notes, 2009 and 2010 will be a time for focusing on the economy and related issues, and when gun issues will be on the back burner. Not so 21 months from now, when I think the nation would be well served by Gun Czar Ed Rendell.