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36


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 36, February 1, 1998

Did California Do-Gooders Finally Go Too Far?

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

          Is it possible that -- even in California -- folks have finally had enough of Big Brother?
          In recent years, the Golden State has become infamous as a testing ground for new limits on personal freedom. California led the nation with seatbelt and helmet laws, as well as strict emission controls which effectively banned some imported cars and motorcycles.
          At a Jan. 28 press conference in Rocklin, California, Air Force veteran William Doss turned in to local police for confiscation his SKS sporter semi-automatic rifle. In a 1995 letter, the California Department of Justice had told Doss it was legal to bring his rifle with him when he moved from Florida, even though it had a legally- purchased aftermarket detachable magazine.
          But last Nov. 24 state Attorney General (and now gubernatorial candidate) Dan Lungren reversed himself, issuing a letter that declared such 40-year-out-of-date weapons are now illegal under the state's Roberti-Roos "assault weapon" ban, and -- unless thousands of law-abiding Californians can prove they acquired their rifles prior to June 1, 1989 -- "must be relinquished to a local police or sheriff's department" ... a taking without compensation.
          Another first for California! "We are no longer debating gun control. We are now debating gun confiscation," said NRA spokeswoman Tanya Metaksa, "a nightmare faced by thousands of law-abiding Californians who were told all would be well if only they registered their guns."
          Radios on the beach? Bottles of beer? In some parts of California it's even illegal to cook outside over a charcoal grill.
          And public resistance was slow to mobilize. While, on other issues, California has led the nation with grassroots campaigns to limit property taxes and to legalize marijuana for medical use, the average Californian apparently just couldn't bring him or herself to oppose anything peddled as furthering the "public health and safety."
          But as the dragnet spread wider, the first spark of resistance did appear last year. When Los Angeles banned powered leaf-blowers (noise pollution and fumes, for heaven's sake,) the gardeners whose jobs depend on such equipment promptly staged noisy blow-ins, and even went on hunger strikes.
          Then, on Jan. 1, a new state law went into effect, banning smoking in all California bars and card rooms.
          Bar owners reported business reductions of 30 to 70 percent. Bay 101, the San Jose card club, reported a drop of only 10 percent ... but found that sufficient to require the lay-off of 70 employees.
          Downtown San Jose's Cinebar complied with the ban for two weeks -- until business fell on weekends from full houses to a half-dozen regulars.
          Then a funny thing happened. To all appearances, Californians just snapped.
          "Barely a month into California's ban on smoking in bars, the law is being attacked, defied and just plain ignored in a backlash that has spread from neighborhood watering holes to the state Legislature," report Ariana E. Cha and Elise Banducci of the San Jose Mercury News. "In San Jose, barkeepers are mailing thousands of 'I'm a Constituent, Not a Criminal!' postcards to legislators. In Sacramento, a judge has temporarily barred police officers from citing smokers at bingo parlors."
          So loud and widespread has been the civil disobedience that the state Assembly on Jan. 28 voted 42-24 to scrap the law for at least two years.
          Not only that, it appears freedom may be contagious. On the same day, the California Assembly actually voted 41-30 to once again allow adults to choose for themselves whether to ride motorcycles without safety helmets.
          Oh, the humanity!
          Of course, neither of those votes is yet confirmed by the state Senate, or signed by Gov. Pete Wilson.
          But the trend is encouraging.
          Now -- before California liberties reach the degraded state of the Japanese, who cheerfully welcome police into their homes in an annual search for drugs, guns or any other contraband -- if the gang in Sacramento would only find enough residual backbone to rip up that "assault weapons" ban, and cry "Enough, no more!"

# # #

          Also from the Golden State, Dr. Edgar Suter, national chairman of Doctors for Integrity in Policy Research, reports Prof. Gary Kleck's new book, "Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control" is now available for $24.95 from the publisher, Aldine de Gruyter, at 914-747-0110, or from http://www.Amazon.com. (CLICK TO ORDER)
          "Of special interest to the medical community is the extensive and meticulously documented chapter on deceit in the scholarly literature," reports Dr. Suter. "Of special interest to Canadians is the scrupulous exposition of Thomas Gabor's deceit in his report to the Canadian Department of Justice, a report that was so influential in Great Britain's post-Dunblane gun legislation hysteria."


Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Readers may contact him via e-mail at vin@lvrj.com. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex// The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127. Vin's forthcoming book, a collection of columns with the working title Send In The Waco Killers, will be published this May by Huntington Press.



          "The right of self-defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible. Wherever standing armies are kept up, and when the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any color or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."
-- Henry St. George Tucker (in Blackstone's Commentaries)


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