For the past few weeks, I have seen posters and, curiously, painted advertisements, for someone named Ron Paul who is running for President. I assumed that it was a joke until about a week ago. Could someone running for President really advertise his candidacy with endorsements painted under overpasses along the Erie Canal?

Apparently, he can. And he has supporters. On Monday, Paul’s campaign raised $4.07 million. Though Paul’s figure for single-day fundraising is more than $2 million short of Hillary Clinton’s $6.2 million, his has much more significance. Until recently, I, and many others, I imagine, saw “Ron Paul for President” paintings and posters but did not know who Ron Paul was. If he could gain so much support so quickly, I wanted to know what made him so special.

According to his Web site, he voted against the Patriot Act and the Iraq War, and has never voted for an unbalanced budget or any bill that the Constitution does not explicitly allow. Paul is a traditional conservative, unlike the rest of the Republican candidates. Even I, at first glance, thought that looking into him would be worth my time. He wants to defend civil liberties, reduce government spending, balance the budget and stay out of wars. I, with left-leaning tendencies, liked the issue positions he offered. But then I arrived at what I should have expected to find from a libertarian-minded candidate: staunch opposition to any form of gun control.

Paul has introduced legislation to allow people to carry guns in National Parks, to repeal the Brady Bill and to end the federal assault weapons ban. What would happen if Ron Paul were our next president? To get a sense of how life would be under a Paul administration, I decided to see how long it would take for me to find AK-47’s for sale.

eBay only listed AK-47 air rifles. Within minutes, however, I found a place that offered an AK-47 with a bayonet and two 30-round magazines for $430. For $150 more, someone could accessorize the gun with a 75-round magazine and smoke grenades. For another $55, one could get a full-body chemical protection suit with a gas mask.

When my astonishment subsided, I realized that there was no chance that any civilian in this country could ever need such munitions. It does not take an assault weapon, smoke grenades and an everything-proof suit to tell a salesman that his Tupperware is unwanted.

Then, to my relief, I saw the small print: one needs a Federal Firearms License to purchase such a gun.

Though I applaud Paul’s consistent voting record and defense of the Constitution, imagining that anyone could purchase such guns without restrictions unsettled me, to say the least. If you want to be able to defend yourself from invading armies, vote for Ron Paul. I want a candidate who will make sure that there is a functioning planet for my grandchildren, balance our out-of-control budget and avoid unnecessary wars, so I will continue my search.

Fleming is a member of the class of 2010.

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