Wednesday, August 18, 1999 7:29 PM
This is just a word of caution for those of you out there who (like
Mojo) don't look too carefully at what Janet
Reno has to say.
I support background checks. Republicans and the NRA even drafted a
bill to impose background checks that cover all gun show sales. And the
democrats, and the Clinton administration, vehemently opposed it. So it
seems pretty hypocritical to complain that such background checks still
are not in place.
But look at what else Janet Reno supports. Gun licensing, waiting
periods, restrictions on instructing your own kids on gun handling and
shooting, and limits on how many guns you can buy in a month. Look at
them each and think carefully.
"[I]f we have
one law that focuses on the user, ensures that they have the capacity and
the knowledge to use it safely and lawfully, then we can really go after
people who possess a gun without a license, because there is no
excuse." Seems to make sense, doesn't it? Licensing to force
education? Now I'm all in favor of gun safety and education. The NRA has
always been at the forefront of gun safety, despite what its opponents may
believe. But think about it... gun accidents have been declining for
years. They cause a little over 1,000 deaths each year (1,134 in 1996).
In comparison, car accidents accounted for 43,649. Sounds to me
like safety isn't quite as big an issue as it could be. Still think cars
There are those who (like Clinton) aren't in favor of gun registration
as a safety measure, but as an attack on crime (or so he says). But
really, exactly what benefit does gun registration really offer us? The
overwhelming majority of weapons used in crime are illegal: they have been
stolen from citizens, stolen from police and military, purchased from
crooked dealers, and smuggled into the country. Do you think that any of
those guns will be registered? And registration isn't needed to trace a
gun to its owner if all sales are through FFLs who are required to keep
meticulous records. If they really want to stop guns from getting into
the hands of criminals, as they say, why are they backing registration
instead of trying to make all sales go through background checks?
The fears of registration leading to confiscation aren't unfounded.
Washington, D.C. and New York City both went from one to the next. The
simple truth is, an effective ban is realistically impossible without
registration. They know that people who would never voluntarily
give up their arms may very well admit their gun ownership for a
"harmless" licensing process.
I think, most of all, I'm sick of government officials complaining
about all of the guns on the street and yet doing nothing to combat one of
the most prevalent source: crooked dealers. Yes, there are just plain bad
gun sellers. And yet, the few that law enforcement have bothered to catch
get off relatively scott-free. Many of them rack up hundreds of years in
"mandatory" federal sentences but get fines and the occasional year or two
in prison. It hasn't been until recently that there has been a push
to track illegal gun to the source. Just how committed are the feds to
actually keeping illegal guns off the street? Maybe they know that if
they really got rid of gun crime, they'd have no reason to grab guns out
of the hands of the rest of us.