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Uzi does it

Elected to be the NRA's point man in Congress, he worked to kill the assault weapons ban.

Bob Barr (R-Geor.) has never met a gun he didn't like. That and his power position in the House earn him high marks from the National Rifle Association. In 1993-94, the NRA spent more than $4.7 million to help the Republicans take over Congress. And no other member of the House owes as much to the gun group as Barr. The NRA hand-picked him for the primary and then, in a move motivated by revenge, helped him defeat veteran Democrat Buddy Darden in November.

Early in 1994, when Barr began his run for Congress, the NRA provided his campaign with critical support and worked closely with him to get out the vote, knowing that with the low turnout expected for the off-year primary, it could make the difference. The Georgia Gun Owners' PAC, which received funds from the NRA, also threw its support behind Barr and provided $5,000 in crucial money for the primary race. Barr won handily.

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The NRA put $4,950 more into Barr's campaign coffers when he moved on to face Darden in the general election. During his 11 previous years in Congress, Darden had enjoyed the NRA's backing. But not this time. Darden, annoyed at the organization's backroom maneuvering, had voted for the president's 1994 crime bill, which included the assault weapons ban. "The NRA decided to make an example of Buddy Darden, as a warning to others," says a leading Democratic strategist in Georgia. (A similar scenario played out in Texas, where Steve Stockman defeated Rep. Jack Brooks, a longtime NRA friend.)

The NRA backed Barr's campaign even though he seemed vulnerable on the "character" issue. Married three times and embroiled in a messy court battle with his second wife over his failure to pay child support, Barr had been photographed in 1992 licking whipped cream off two buxom young women's chests. And this from the man who would later sponsor the Defense of Marriage Act.

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