by Frank Borzellieri
The capacity on the part of liberals to devise outlandish policies intended to combat crime is rivaled in stupidity only by their propensity to avoid true solutions. Gun control has always been the pet panacea of those who possess neither the desire nor the backbone to confront the true and obvious cause of gun violence: criminals and a lenient justice system. Rather than confront this bane head on, gun controllers have striven to crack down on their favorite whipping boys, the guns themselves.
Every time another maniac opens fire, as America recently revisited on the one-year anniversary of the near assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, the calls go out for stricter gun control. Gun controllers, however, never quite get around to explaining how the previous 20,000 gun control laws they enthusiastically enacted failed to stop the most recent tragedies. The memorable shootings in the Los Angeles Jewish center and the Texas shooting in a Christian church were not—and could not—have been prevented by existing gun control laws. Nevertheless, the reaction was typical and predictable.
In the short time in between those shootings, Bill Clinton latched onto and actually expanded what is probably the nuttiest (although not the most harmful) policy that is aimed at guns rather than criminals. In what is generally referred to as “gun-buyback” programs, Clinton took a page from local communities around the country and announced a $15 million federal plan which would assist local authorities in purchasing firearms in and around public housing projects. Today, the programs continue to enjoy a bizarre reverence.
Gun-buyback programs work like this: police in a local neighborhood or precinct, often with the assistance of misguided community organizations, announce that they want people to turn in their illegal (or legal) guns. A period of amnesty is offered, whereby anyone who owns a weapon illegally will not be punished or prosecuted if they hand in the gun within the allotted time frame. No questions asked. Sometimes, the buyback program operates under the condition of anonymity of the illegal gun owner. (There is no amnesty for crimes committed with guns.)
In exchange for turning in their guns, people will receive a determined amount of cash. Sometimes, they are offered basketball tickets or some other desirable item. Amidst great hoopla, the program is announced under the guise of an “anti-gun” program. Since people will be turning in their guns, and guns cause crime, ipso facto, crime will be reduced.
The only effect that these ridiculous programs have on criminals is that certain robberies may be delayed while the muggers try to stop laughing. The entire program is predicated on the nonsensical notion that criminals are the ones that turn in their guns. That an IQ above 10 could actually take such logic seriously is one of the great mysteries of life. But, alas, some people actually purport to believe it.
The federal program was aimed at reducing gun violence in some of the most notoriously dangerous locations in America. It intended to give local police departments up to $500,000 each to purchase guns for a “suggested price” of $50. “Every gun turned in through a buyback program means potentially one less tragedy,” Clinton profoundly exclaimed.
Clinton, who certainly inspires confidence when he asserts that the guns will be destroyed upon receipt by the police, calculated that the program would bring in roughly 300,000 guns. The federal money was intended to go to individual public housing authorities which would coordinate plans with local police. The Clinton administration came up with the novel idea that gift certificates for goods or services be handed out instead of cash. Very appealing to the neighborhood mugger.
Naturally, when reality actually managed to break through the clouds of deception, the facts revealed that there was no evidence whatsoever that crime had been reduced in locales where gun buyback programs had been enacted. This is in line with the fact that crime does not go down in areas which establish more gun control laws. In fact, the only places where crime decreases are where right-to-carry laws are passed—laws which make it easier for law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons for self-protection.
The Associated Press reports that the thousands of weapons turned in through buyback programs over the years hardly make a dent in the 220 million to 250 million guns in circulation. The people who turn in the guns are undoubtedly comprised of those not committing crimes and people who simply want to get rid of their guns anyway. Obviously, criminals who make their living breaking laws with guns are not interested in surrendering the tools of the trade for a gift certificate. But public policy is rarely based on logic and common sense.
Likewise, the Brady Law—the farce legislation which mandates a 15-day waiting period before the purchase of a handgun—is another monstrous sham that gun controllers celebrated in much the same manner they would fawn over Rosemary’s baby.
Touting the nation’s drop in crime as proof that the law is working, gun controllers have consistently paraded false numbers and results to bolster their propaganda machine. Ever since James Brady was disabled by John Hinckley’s bullet during the Reagan assassination attempt, Brady, and especially his wife Sarah, have dedicated their lives to destroying the freedom of others. Much like Long Island Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was murdered by self-described White-hating Jamaican Colin Ferguson in the Long Island Railroad massacre, the Bradys have used their personal tragedy to garner sympathy for an evil cause.
Gun control has never been much more than the holy grail of deluded liberals who are determined to shed the image that they are soft on crime. Advocating for gun control is the pathetic attempt to pretend they are making a tangible contribution to the war on crime. Violent street criminals are infinitely grateful for the help gun controllers have given them whilst plying their nefarious trade. Indeed, an unarmed populace creates a much more conducive climate for the business of rapists and muggers. Criminals are, therefore, the most ardent supporters and giddy beneficiaries of tight gun control, of which waiting periods are an important part.
What are the real numbers regarding the Brady Law? Once again it was Bill Clinton, perfecting the art of the “lawyer’s” answer to straight-forward questions, who claimed sooner after the first results were in, as did his attorney general Janet Reno, that 100,000 applicants were prevented from purchasing pistols due to the “success” of the police background checks conducted during the waiting period. As usual, there was a grain of truth to the former president’s misleading words, which come unraveled upon further inspection. Certainly, 100,000 applicants were denied their constitutional rights because of Brady. The only problem is that some 90,000 (!) of these rejections were caused by mistaken identity, traffic offenses, and other computer errors.
In reality, therefore, only 10,000 rejections were “legitimate.” And of those 10,000 the vast majority of denials resulted from non-violent crimes committed by the applicants many years ago. The notion that hardened criminals, who break every law from petty larceny to murder, will actually go to the trouble of purchasing a weapon legally and submit to a background check is something that only the mind of a gun controller can be totally at ease with. Only fools believe that the Brady Law—or any gun control law—prevents criminals from obtaining weapons.
Waiting periods not only fail at their purported mission, they actually increase crime and cost innocent lives. The quintessential example was the Los Angeles riots in 1992. (Before the federal Brady Law, California had its own state version). During those horrible days of lawless mayhem, looting, rampaging and murder, terrified citizens seeking to protect their lives and their property flocked to gun stores and were told they had to wait. Left naked to assault and denied their right to bear arms because of the waiting period, an inhuman savagery was inflicted upon law-aiding citizens by predators who did not have to wait.
Moreover, the failure of waiting periods, rather than wake gun control tyrants from their delusions, has always been used as an excuse for yet longer waiting periods. California went from a two-day waiting period in 1940 to three days in 1958; to five days in 1965; to 15 days in 1976. During that period, violent crime rose steadily, peaking at a 400 percent increase. During the glory days of the David Dinkins mayoralty and the Crown Heights riots in New York City, the waiting period for a first-time gun purchase was four to six months. Big help.
Eventually, in a landmark victory for freedom and the Tenth Amendment, the Supreme Court struck down the provision of the Brady Law that required the states to conduct background checks, on the grounds that the federal government cannot tell the states how to spend their money. To no surprise, crime has not increased in the locales where the background check has been eliminated. Undeterred, gun controllers have fought to enact state versions of the bill which cost taxpayers millions of wasted dollars on useless paperwork, and police man-hours devoted to checking on honest citizens rather than patrolling the streets.
Despite the hoopla, gun controllers have never been able to correlate the effects of the Brady Law with the drop in crime, which in reality is due to demographic shift – the aging of the population. The real effects of the Brady Law and all gun control legislation are to increase crime and to trample on the precious freedom articulated in the Second Amendment. The real agenda is the ultimate confiscation of all privately-owned weapons and the loss of freedom.
So first it was waiting periods. Then it was background checks. Next came the “assault rifle” ban. Let’s not forget registration. Then bullet identification numbers. Confiscation, of course. Then the crackdown on “Saturday Night Specials.” Ban on semi-automatics…
It’s hard to be chic trying to keep up with the latest fad on the gun controllers’ stylish agenda. When one craze becomes passé, the confiscators can always be counted on to come up with another. So just as the mood ring replaced the hoola hoop, the new hip cause that will save America’s children from those evil gun owners is the gun lock.
Just as when the Hustle came out, anyone who’s anyone is in on it. There has been proposed legislation requiring gun locks, as well as state and local bills that will harass law-abiding handgun owners, while the criminals are once again hysterical laughing. But the liberals, on a certain level, ought to be admired for a certain consistency in the face of total failure. If liberalism is the religion, gun control is the First Gospel. In the Honeymooners, when Alice Kramden was criticizing one of Ralph’s notorious slip-ups in his hair-brained get-rich-quick schemes, he retorted, “No one’s 100 percent, Alice.” She replied, “You are. You’ve been wrong every time.”
And so it is with the pursuit of mandatory gun locks. The proposed laws require that all handguns be attached with trigger locks, which will supposedly keep children from killing themselves or others in horrible accidents. These types of accidents are almost non-existent, but gun control shills in liberal political circles play them up to give the false impression that they happen on a routine basis. It is important to understand that gun controllers are among the most shameless statistical liars. Their numbers can simply never be believed. For example, bicycles kill far more children than handguns, but Americans will look long and hard to see the actual numbers on the fingertips of the confiscators.
Furthermore, when gun control advocates trot out the statistics claiming a high number of “children” being killed by firearms, the definition of “children” is the one created by federal authorities, which is people under the age of 18. So when two 17 year old hoodlum drug addicts in the ghetto intentionally shoot each other between fixes, this counts as “children” being killed by handguns, with the image of a toddler reaching into his father’s gun rack.
Having failed to effectively disarm all law-abiding Americans, gun controllers seek to render the guns they own useless. Most of the mental midgets voting for these laws wouldn’t know a gun lock from a wrist watch, but they understand how to trample on the rights of honest people and get tough – not on criminals – but on inanimate objects. The whole point of having a defensive weapon in one’s home is for quick, life-saving access and use in the event of criminal intrusion. Gun locks cause critical time to be lost. Ever try opening the house mail box in the middle of the night?
The well-publicized study by Professor John Lott of the University of Chicago, More Guns, Less Crime, proved what all sensible people already knew: the presence of guns in honest hands deters criminals and saves innocent lives. In all locales nationwide where right-to-carry laws were enacted since the mid-1980s, crime went down. Americans defend themselves more than 760,000 annually with legally owned firearms against violent predators.
But the gun lock craze has an even more sinister side. The legal theory of Strict Liability defines guilt as simply having committed the illegal act, regardless of mitigating circumstances. For example, a man is guilty of statutory rape by having sex with a minor, even if he had every reason to believe she was 30. Similarly, running a red light is always an offense, even if one is rushing a child to the emergency room. As a corollary to this gun control madness, gun controllers want to require that citizens act “responsibly” (get gun locks), but at the same time want to apply Strict Liability to such laws, so that even if owners purchase and attach the locks, they will still be held responsible in the event of an accident. Perhaps more importantly, they are pushing this theory independent of whether gun lock legislation passes. This is intended to terrify people out of owning guns. So far, courts have rejected this nonsense. But totalitarians never stop trying.
They also never stop believing in the Instrumentality Theory, which holds that the mere presence itself of instruments (guns) causes violence. Gun ownership has risen 50 percent in the past two decades. As Professor Lott’s study shows, however, not only has violent crime gone down in that period, it has decreased most substantially where gun ownership has risen most sharply. But religious fanatics rely on faith, not facts. So gun controllers will continue their passionate crusade for the gun lock, waiting periods, and buyback programs. The hoola hoop should be returning any day now.