Back in 2006, we reported that "transition" seemed like a good word to describe the Brady Campaign's trials and tribulations over the years. Based upon focus group polls, the group changed its moniker from Handgun Control, Inc., to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, but that change in semantics didn't achieve the desired results.
The group then hired former Maryland Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Barnes as its President, which again turned out to be a big flop, as during Barnes' tenure, the group suffered a series of legislative and political losses. The group then tried to "right the ship" and appear "mainstream" by hiring former Ft. Wayne, Ind. mayor, Paul Helmke -- a Republican -- as its new president (though at the time of Helmke's hiring, it was reported that 93 percent of the Brady campaign's previous donations to political candidates went to Democrats).
Now, Helmke's reign will soon come to an end; he will be stepping down as Brady Campaign president on July 10th.
Obviously, Helmke is anti-gun to his core. During his tenure Helmke assailed the non-existent gun show "loophole," decried the dangers of individuals buying or owning more than 10 firearms (what he considers an "arsenal"), and the private sale of guns. He called for California-style gun controls and believed that "having more guns correlates with more gun violence."
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As a political candidate Helmke received "F" grades from the NRA-Political Victory Fund, and in a 2002 Republican congressional primary, Helmke lost overwhelmingly.
According to an article in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Helmke said he's leaving the Brady Campaign on good terms after what he considers "five years of positive work to promote its platforms as moderate, reasonable approaches to gun control."
The article went on to say that Helmke hasn't figured out what his next step will be. "I'm going to take some time to figure things out," he said.
Brady Campaign Vice President Dennis Henigan, the group's longtime top lawyer, will serve as acting president while the Brady board searches for a new leader.