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NRA brings gun control to U.S. Senate race

CASS LAKE -- While Al Franken forayed into northern Minnesota on Sunday, the National Rifle Association's Political Victory Fund filled the airwaves with radio ads stating that the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate plans to take away citizens' guns.

In the ad, a wife questions her husband's reading of Al Franken's books. He cites several anti-gun passages, in-cluding one where Franken writes it is better to collect baseball cards than guns. The man notes that U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., has stood for Second Amendment rights to bear arms, and should be trusted over Franken.

"I'm not going to take anyone's guns away," Franken said Sunday in an interview after he met with about 20 Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe members in Cass Lake. "People should know my stance is the same as Barack Obama's. it's the same as Norm Coleman's. It's the same as John McCain's, which is Americans have the right to possess firearms for hunting and protection and collection"

The NRA Political Victory Fund, however, gave Franken an "F" on gun issues while giving incumbent Coleman an "A." Second Amendment rights in northern Minnesota came to a head last week as Todd Palin, husband of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, GOP presidential candidate McCain's vice presidential running mate, pushed the Second Amendment in stops throughout the region, including Bemidji.

In Hermantown, he helped NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre announce the NRA's endorsement of Coleman for re-election.

"Every great idea, every wonderful value is always one generation from extinction. We have received a great heri-tage of the outdoor life and of freedom from our parents. It's our solemn responsibility to pass those on to our kids. That's one of the reasons I want to go back to Washington: to defend our rights against those who have a very differ-ent view," said Coleman in accepting the endorsement.

"And one of the most important things we need to defend is our right to bear arms. Today I'm proud to stand with people like Wayne LaPierre and Todd Palin who believe in our Second Amendment rights and will never let them take that away from us. I'm proud to be here with them and to accept the NRA's endorsement for six more years in the U.S. Senate," Coleman said.

Democratic presidential nominee Obama, on his campaign Web site, states that he would protect gun rights. "Millions of hunters and shooters own and use guns each year. Barack Obama believes the Second Amendment creates an individual right, and he respects the constitutional rights of Americans to bear arms. He will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport, and use guns."

Obama also pledges support of creating new access for hunting and angling, ensuring funding for the purchase of land and easements for conservation and wildlife habitat.

"The state has the right for gun safety laws," says Franken, "but we have them and they should be enforced. I be-lieve in background checks, but we have them and they do them. If someone violates the law with a gun, they should be prosecuted."

The NRA earlier this month endorsed McCain despite earlier differences with the Arizona Republican over his support of campaign finance restrictions and gun show rules. But the NRA's Political Victory Fund has spent more than $2.3 million opposing Obama, according to an Associated Press report.

"I don't know why the NRA feels the need to do that," Franken said.