Before Obama announced his plan, New York already passed a tightening of gun laws. Predictably, people with little sense acted irrationally:
“It’s ridiculous. It’s absolutely — how to put it nicely — it’s Prince Andrew Cuomo’s bid for the White House,” said Jim Hanley, who was waiting to buy another handgun. “I want to do it before the right is taken away. Andrew Cuomo and Barack Hussein Obama are two best gun salesmen in the history of the world.”
So, what provisions prompted Hanley to buy another handgun?
Signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, the New York legislation tightens a ban on assault-style rifles, calls for background checks on ammunition purchases, outlaws large-capacity magazines and tries to keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill people deemed to be a threat.
Therefore he believes his right to own a handgun will be stripped from him. Okeydokey.
This disconnect between fact and reality is somewhat emblematic of the gun “enthusiasts.” Fight for decades to win an inch, finally gain a centimeter, and the gun crowd starts shouting about how you’ve taken a mile and are quickly approaching infinity.
I’ve gotten the same reaction countless times when I have discussed guns on the Internet. I can start my statement with a whole paragraph about how I believe there is an individual right to keep and bear arms, how I would never suggest a gun ban, and how the measures I wish to introduce would allow any law-abiding citizen to own a large number of guns. Then I lay down a set of reasonable gun control proposals with rationales for each.
Inevitably, the response from gun advocates begins, “You should never ban guns because….”
Chris Thiel of North Tonawanda has a pistol permit and belongs to a pistol league but doesn’t own a pistol. He described himself as a hobbyist and said he’s been thinking about buying an AR-15.
“Say this goes through and another tragedy happens and in New York state,” he said. “You’ve got to do more then? When does it end?”
Hopefully it ends with your having to go to a gun range to enjoy your hobby rather than 20 more children being slaughtered. Or is going to a club too high a price to pay for other people’s lives?
Here’s one way to see it: a person owns a car, but feels that it is unreasonable to force them to do any maintenance on it. They ignore many warning signs, a lot of minor problems, and let things accumulate. Finally, they are driving through a school zone and their brakes fail because they didn’t check the brake fluid and a leak drained it. The car goes out of control and runs down a crowd of schoolchildren. You may feel that just punishing the cretin is OK, but I would think that the parents of the dead children might not be so comforted by the late action.
The people, stunned by the horrible incident, approve passing a law that requires car owners to undergo regular brake maintenance to find such problems before such an incident happens again. However, car enthusiasts are livid. “It’s ridiculous,” they complain. “How long before the right to drive my car is taken away?” one driver asks.
“Say this goes through and another tragedy happens because of some other aspect of car maintenance,” another driver says. “You’ve got to do more then? When does it end?”
Seen in any other context, the arguments of the gun crowd would appear as ludicrous even to them as it does to the rest of us. Nor is it any comfort that the people furiously buying weapons are paranoid and stupid.
Just as a law requiring brake maintenance is not a harbinger of a total ban on driving cars, neither are New York’s laws—nor laws that go a great deal further—a harbinger of the loss of the right to keep and bear arms.
Face it: if you think you need a Bushmaster, and if you live in the United states and are not on duty in Afghanistan, you’re an ass. Your losing your ability to wield your toy and only be forced to register it is not a violation of your rights. It is, in fact, a violation of the rights to those around you, because your freedoms do not extend to actions that put your neighbors’ safety and even their lives at stake for an unnecessary bang-bang toy.
And that’s at the heart of this issue: virtually right we have is limited if it potentially infringes on the safety of others. You have the right to free speech, but not if it wrongly harms others, as in slander or reckless endangerment. You have the right to be protected from search and seizure, except where a court finds reason to void that right for public safety.
The gun advocates, however, seem to believe that they are exempt. We make everyone go through a long and difficult process to get a driver’s license, but a shorter and easier process to certify a person to use a gun—a tool specifically designed to kill people—somehow is an unbearable price to pay and must be stopped. How would you feel about an 18-year-old driving a car around your neighborhood without a day of training?
And the assault rifle? Well, why stop there? Why not allow hand grenades? Nerve gas? Or, if you want to weasel about how it’s only projectile weapons in question, then how about RPGs? Howitzers? The assault rifle belongs in the same category: it’s a military weapon, and has no place in our neighborhoods.
It’s time for people who own guns to stop being whiny, selfish pricks and start cooperating with completely reasonable public safety measures.