Let the hysteria begin
Here's the lead paragraph in a recent AP story with the dateline of Midlothian, Va.:
"When 10-year-old Austin Smith heard Barack Obama had been elected president, he had one question: Does this mean I won't get a new gun for Christmas?"
One can only wonder what kind of discussions young Austin was subjected to in the months leading to the recent presidential election, but the little fellow, whose mother promptly scampered to get him a 20-gauge shotgun, isn't alone in harboring a foreboding dread that the gun-confiscation wagon will soon be making the rounds, presumably much like an ice-cream truck but with "Give Peace a Chance" coming from the speakers. The story goes on to say that the FBI has seen a sharp increase in the number of background checks for gun purchases, and gun stores are doing land-office business. David Hancock, who runs a gun shop in Midlothian, says sales have nearly doubled in the past week, and he had to call in extra workers on Election Day because of the crush of business. "They're scared to death of losing their rights," said Hancock. Stewart Wallin, who owns Get Some Guns (really) in Murray, Utah, said he sold nine assault weapons the day after Barack Obama was elected. Are people really that afraid of losing their right to bear arms or do they figure, now that Obama's headed to the White House, that black mobs will soon descend to subjugate the white man? There's no doubt that Obama supports greater gun controls, but he's never suggested seizing the weapons of law-abiding citizens or a widespread ban on firearms sales. Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said his group will continue to press for "sensible" restrictions such as background checks at gun shows, a ban on military-type assault weapons and a crackdown on the illegal gun trade. Mark Tushnet, a Harvard Law School professor who has written a book on the gun debate, said he doesn't see expanded firearms restrictions as a high priority for the incoming administration and expects that "maybe the gun-show loophole will be closed, but not much else." The NRA, of course, preaches doom and gloom. That's one of the problems in the whole discussion of guns in this country. You have a fringe element on one side that would like most guns banned, and you have the NRA that believes any effort to control the flow of weapons is the first step on a slippery slope toward storm troopers raiding people's homes to snatch everything from Saturday night specials to blunderbusses. I really can't see a reason for anyone to own an Uzi, and I think more restrictions on the gun-show trade would be good, but if I live to be 150 years old, I will never see the day when the government comes to the homes of good citizens and takes their handguns, rifles and shotguns. It just ain't going to happen. For one thing, the populace, even people like me who favor some controls, would not stand for it. And, knowing that, you'll never get a majority of Congress to sign on for such a proposal. Also, broad gun controls just wouldn't work. If handguns and hunting rifles are banned, that really doesn't mean anything to the criminal element. I guess if we want to look on the bright side of all this gun-buying hysteria, we can credit the new president with his first achievement in stimulating the economy.