by Max Brantley
The NRA, of course, will spend millions to defeat any candidate who displays common sense on gun issues, such as Aden. Perhaps a ton of criticism of Aden actually might help his lightly financed race against U.S. Rep. Steve Womack.
One such race is northwestern Arkansas, where a 33-year-old Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran named Ken Aden is challenging his former battalion commander for a Congressional seat. Aden is running as a progressive Democrat; his Republican opponent, Steve Womack, is a freshman incumbent, part of the Tea Party sweep of the 2010 midterm elections.
Aden, who has already met with House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi and other party officials in Washington, has strong views on guns. He collects them, and say he knows what damage they can do. When Aden was 16 his father was shot and killed by his stepmother, using his dad's own 357 magnum and his shotgun.
"We've got to keep guns out of the wrong hands," Aden said.
He supports the background checks mandated by the 1993 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act and has pledged in his platform to "fight to make sure that dangerous assault rifles and ammunition with no practical purpose in hunting, self-protection, or sport shooting ... stay off our streets."
Womack, for his part has co-sponsored several pieces of legislation to reinforce Second Amendment rights, including a bill that would force states to honor other states' concealed carry permits.
"New, more stringent gun laws will not keep guns out of the hands of criminals," Womack told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette in January 2011, after the Tucson shootings. "Rather, proper enforcement of our current laws will provide the necessary mechanisms to ensure the well-being of the American people."