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More Gun-Control Nonsense

by

The New York Times has another silly editorial on gun control. The paper’s editorial board is calling for a renewal of the assault-weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

The paper’s justification? “A survey of more than 130 local police chiefs and officials found 37 percent reporting an increase in assault weapons in street crime,” along with other evidence indicating an increased criminal use of assault weapons.

Notice the implication: If the Congress reenacts the assault-weapons ban, those violent criminals will obey the law.

Now, if that’s not silly, what is? What the Times is suggesting is that if Congress makes it illegal to own an assault weapon, the violent criminal will say to himself: “Oh my gosh, it’s now illegal to own an assault weapon. I now need to figure out how I am going to commit my robbery or murder without violating the new gun-control law.”

That’s ridiculous. If a would-be murderer or robber doesn’t give a hoot for laws against murder or robbery, why in the world would he give a hoot about a law against owning a gun?

The Washington Post recently carried a news article that detailed a big sting operation in Washington, D.C., which is notorious for its gun-control laws. D.C. cops and federal officers set up a phony storefront in which they purchased guns from dozens of people, who were then arrested. The operation also netted $1.5 million of heroin, cocaine, and other illegal drugs.

Now, the reason those people were arrested and charged is because they were violating D.C.’s gun-control laws (and drug laws).

But wait a minute! If it’s illegal to own guns (and drugs) in D.C., then that should mean that there should be no guns (and drugs) in D.C., right? Isn’t that what the Times’ editorial board is suggesting with its call to renew the assault-weapons ban — that once it is renewed, violent criminals will have respect for the law and decline to violate it?

Moreover, what the Times’ editorial board is perhaps unaware of is that the 2004 assault-weapons ban didn’t really ban assault weapons. It simply banned certain modifications of them, such as extra-long magazines or bayonet holders. It was still possible to acquire the same semi-automatic assault rifles that one can acquire today.

So, what effect would a renewal of the assault-weapons ban have on the ability of violent criminals to get their hands on assault weapons? Alas, the Times’ editorial board doesn’t explain that one.

What is the actual impact of gun control? It disarms non-criminal people, those who don’t want to risk a felony conviction for illegally owning the weapon, thereby impeding their ability to defend themselves from criminal-types who have no reservations about violating the gun-control law.

While the Times referred to an increased use of assault weapons in “street crime,” the title of the Post’s article — “In the Market for Guns, Drugs and Arrests,” fills in the details: The increase in firepower among violent criminals is undoubtedly part of the infamous war on drugs.

Consider, Mexico, for example, where drug cartels have been employing assault weapons against the cops, the military, rival cartels, and innocent people. No doubt the Times would say, “Mexico should make it illegal to own an assault weapon, and that will cure the problem.”

Well, except for one thing: AK-47 assault weapons are illegal in Mexico and they are the favored weapon of Mexican drug cartels. In other words, the drug cartels, which have no respect for drug laws and murder laws, have had no respect for Mexico’s gun-control law. That must shock the New York Times.

The solution to the increase in violence in “street crime” is not gun control but rather drug legalization. Unfortunately, establishment newspapers such as the New York Times can’t bring themselves to embrace such an obvious libertarian solution. Instead, with hope springing eternal that the 35-year-old drug war can still be won, the Times embraces another status intervention, gun control.

Finally, the Times argues that Congress should enact more “realistic gun controls” because polls show the public wants them. I wonder if the Times would argue for more realistic “speech controls” if polls show the public wanted them. Unfortunately, the Times fails to recognize that fundamental rights are not subject to majority whims, a point that our ancestors understood when they enacted the Bill of Rights.

This post was written by:

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.