By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF
ERIDIAN, Idaho If you've been longing for your very own assault rifle and 30-round magazine for the next holiday season, you're in luck.
President Bush, sidestepping a promise, is allowing the ban on assault rifles and oversized clips to expire on Sept. 14. So at a gun store here in Meridian, a bit west of Boise, the counter has a display promising "2 FREE HIGH-CAPACITY MAGAZINES."
All you have to do is purchase a new Beretta 9-millimeter handgun and you'll receive two high-capacity magazines - on the condition, the fine print states, that the federal ban expires on schedule.
President Bush promised in the last presidential campaign to support an extension of the ban, which was put in place in 1994 for 10 years. "It makes no sense for assault weapons to be around our society," Mr. Bush observed at the time.
These days Mr. Bush still says that he'll sign an extension of the ban if it happens to reach his desk. But he knows that the only way the ban can be extended on time is if he actually urges its passage, and he refuses to do that. So his promise to support an extension rings hollow - it's not exactly a lie, but it's not the full truth, either.
Mr. Bush's flip-flop is surprising because he has generally had the courage of his convictions. Apparently he's hiding from this issue because it's so politically charged.