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Backdoor Gun Bans

by Larry Pratt


Recognition that gun control cost Al Gore the presidency has come to even a strident gun control group, the Violence Policy Center.

Gun Owners of AmericaWhile 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 firearms.

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 in crime.

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 on the web.

Also from Larry Pratt


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I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least." HENRY DAVID THOREAU

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