Did California Do-Gooders Finally Go Too Far?
By Vin Suprynowicz
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declared such 40-year-out-of-date weapons are now illegal under the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
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
Then a funny thing happened. To all appearances, Californians
"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
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
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.