"Transition" seems like a good word to describe the Brady Bunch's trials and tribulations over the past few years. First, based upon focus group polls, the group changed its moniker from Handgun Control, Inc., to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence. That change in semantics didn't achieve the desired results. Then, it was hiring former Maryland Democratic U.S. Representative Mike Barnes as its President. Again, a big flop, as since the Barnes's tenure began in 2000, the group suffered a series of legislative and political losses. Perhaps, the third time's a charm for the group that is still struggling to maintain some semblance of relevance.

Effective July 1, 2006, former Ft. Wayne, Ind. Mayor, Republican Paul Helmke, would replace Barnes as the group's president. This is a rather transparent attempt to appear "mainstream," as the Brady press releases played up Helmke's Republican affiliation. With more than 90 percent of the Brady Center's campaign contributions going to Democrats, you might wonder at the apparent shift, but all that's really relevant for gun owners is that as a political candidate Helmke received "F"-grades from the NRA-PVF. If you wonder why Helmke would leave Indiana for the mean streets of "gun free" Washington, D.C., just consider Helmke's 2002 Republican primary challenge to Representative Mark Souder (himself a champion of gun rights and a sponsor of H.R. 1288--legislation to repeal the D.C. gun ban). Souder won in a landslide, proving that Helmke's anti-gun views weren't nearly "mainstream" enough for the folks back at home.

An anti-gunner by any other party affiliation is still an anti-gunner. With the hiring of an anti-gun Republican to steer its ship, the Brady Bunch has made clear that the only litmus test one must pass to be a member of the team is unfailing support for more gun control. And on this front Helmke passes with flying colors.


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