Recognition that gun control cost Al Gore the presidency has come to even a
strident gun control group, the Violence Policy
While they like the idea of registration and licensing because it paves the
way to confiscation, they do not think it is worth the political cost. It was,
after all, registration of guns and licensing of gun owners that Al Gore loudly
advocated at one point in the 2000 presidential election campaign.
A pollster, Celinda Lake, at their annual conference argued that Gore's open
support of licensing and registration failed to ignite supporters of gun control
while it galvanized pro-gun voters.
The Violence Policy Center supports the Firearms Safety and Consumer
Protection Act of 2001 introduced by Representative Patrick Kennedy and Senator
Robert Torricelli. Their measure would place firearms under the authority of the
Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to draw up safety regulations for
Currently the federal government is specifically prohibited from having such
jurisdiction. This prohibition was slapped on when the Consumer Products Safety
Commission proposed to regulate firearms safety years ago.
We do not have to guess how such a measure would work in practice. The state
of Massachusetts has already given us the answer.
In 2000, Massachusetts banned by action of the Attorney General the sale of
cheap handguns and required all handguns sold in the state to have child-proof
safety devices. Also required are tamper-resistant serial numbers and
state-approved trigger locks. With no list of approved or disapproved guns,
Glock and Browning are not shipping product into the state. The number of
dealers in the state has plummeted by nearly 50 percent.
That's one way to ban guns -- make it impossible for consumers to buy them.
Massachusetts has not shut off all sales, but they have clearly set the course.
Crime has increased in Massachusetts since a 1998 law went on the books which
made it harder for people to buy guns and put home dealers out of business. The
Attorney General's assault on firearms can be predicted to continue the increase
The hope of gun banners in Massachusetts, as well as at the Violence Policy
Center, is that gun owners will not be galvanized by the so-called "gun
safety" approach that chokes steadily but avoids plunging a dagger in the
heart of gun ownership.
Mary Carpenter is the grandmother of two children murdered by a madman who
broke into their California home and killed them with a pitchfork. She points
out that the three surviving children could have used their father's guns to
stop the killer, but under California law, they were inaccessible. That had not
been advertised as a gun control law. It was deceptively packaged as a
"common sense gun safety law."
Gun safety or gun control, the result is the same: these are criminal
protection laws. The reduction in legal guns in circulation simply means that
criminals have a safer working environment.
The next time you hear someone advocate gun safety, please translate that to
mean criminal safety.
Larry Pratt is the Executive Director of Gun Owners of America, a national
gun lobby with over 300,000 members located at 8001 Forbes Place, Springfield,
VA 22151 and at http://www.gunowners.org
on the web.