Tuesday, November 15, 2005

San Francisco has banned handguns.

The conservative reaction to the San Francisco gun ban is appallingly disingenuous, and reflects what a bunch of self-serving hypocrites the gun-booster movement is. When it comes to legalizing guns, they say that it’s a question of community standards, and that what’s safe in Carter County, Kentucky might not be safe in Manhattan, so Carter County will have its standards and Manhattan will have its own. But when San Francisco (or New York or Chicago or Los Angeles) tries to pass its own gun laws restricting gun ownership, all of a sudden community standards and states’ rights aren’t relevant anymore, and we need to make sure the folks in Compton have as much access to weapons as the folks back in Carter County.

It’s an uneasy compromise, this patchwork of gun regulations, but it’s the best option we’ve got. It happens that people buy cheaper, easier-to-get weapons in Virginia and drive them up here to New York City—it’s only a five-hour drive, if there’s no traffic—and will commit crimes that way. Virginia’s lax gun laws are hurting New York, and unless we pull over every car on the New Jersey Turnpike and search it from trunk to glovebox, there’s not a damn thing we can do about it. However, we can’t tell Virginia to control its handgun regulations, or to make them stronger so that it will be harder for outlaws to have guns, so next time some poor bastard gets gunned down in the South Bronx, his family can take comfort that the dearly departed died protecting a Constitutional right, for which our forefathers packed powder and wadding over two hundred years ago, the whites of their eyes, remember the Alamo, God bless America, blah blah blah.

There’s no easy solution, but I’d say the first step ought to be to ban the plainly dangerous and ultimately useless weapons that are fancied by hobbyists but serve no purpose to anyone else but, say, the police, who need guns to protect themselves from lawbreakers who have guns. Hunting rifles aren’t a threat, of course, and no one really says that they are or could be, apart from the NRA, who have created an artificial sense of siege surrounding them. When people rob liquor stores, they’re going to use a handgun, not a hunting rifle. The NRA might have a point if they could prove that handguns and hunting rifles are used interchangeably for crimes, but they’re not.

So San Francisco takes its laws into its own hands and the NRA fanatics, who are usually states’-righters, scream blue murder about their scummy double standard. So what’s it going to be, bulletheads: local control, or national standards? Really, you can’t have your cake and shoot it, too.

I think handgun ownership is a slippery slope, anyway. If we let people own them, what next? They’ll want more and more dangerous weapons, no doubt. Then they’ll demand machine guns, and then hand grenades… why, pretty soon, the NRA’s going to be fighting for the right for all of us to own nuclear weapons! We’ve got to stop them before this gets out of control, and we’ve got to stop them now.

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