Number 284, August 15, 2004

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Growing Up Without Guns
by Chris Claypoole

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This is a follow-up of sorts to my previous essay, "Growing Up With Guns."

While listening to my favorite afternoon talk show, The Ron Smith Show on WBAL radio in Baltimore, MD [link] , he mentioned an incident several years ago in the Baltimore area. It seems that an off-duty policeman was followed home by two men with evil intentions. When the policeman arrived home, the two tried to carjack him. He then produced his service pistol and prevented the robbery. The local newspaper, The Sun, when writing about the event, opined (in an alleged news article) that the two would-be carjackers picked the wrong guy to attack. Ron's point was (you can see this coming, can't you?) that everyone should be able to defend themselves against criminal activity, not just government employees in certain agencies. You see, in Maryland, ordinary citizens are prevented under penalty of "law" from exercising that right.

The state attorney general, Joseph Curran, actually wrote a white paper shortly after the Columbine High School murders titled, "A Farewell To Arms." (See the press release at [this link]) It called for restricting handgun ownership to those who can jump through more hoops than ever; not only "proving" that they have no convictions, no restraining orders, etc., but "proving" that they do not have a "propensity for violence or mental instability" and taking "approved" training in handgun safety. The report is replete with the same old false statistics, false analogies, and non sequitors we have come to expect from the anti-self-defense crowd. As usual, Curran was trying to equate the presence of guns with the presence of violence, cherry-picking his anecdotal evidence with care. (To give partial credit, he did note that there are more handgun deaths from suicide than from homicide. But he felt that this only made the problem more "tragic" than otherwise.)

Fortunately, though the Democrats control the state, and have for decades, there are enough people in the less populous areas that have enough sense to prevent the very worst excesses of hacks like Curran (whose son-in-law is the boy mayor of Baltimore, Martin O'Malley). They did get a law passed requiring all handguns sold in Maryland to have integral trigger locks, and that as soon as "smart gun" technology is "feasible" (in the opinion of politicians and their appointees), that will be required also. They did not get the framework for eventual confiscation passed. (Admittedly, that is no barrier her in Maryland. A state bureaucrat banned smoking in restaurants by regulatory fiat alone; no legislation required here!) Only the politically connected can easily get a carry permit; others have a far more difficult time. In one instance, a businessman who had received citizenship awards from the police had his permit lifted and guns confiscated when Curran began enforcing the part of the law denying handguns to those convicted of misdemeanors with a sentence of two or more years. Even if no sentence was handed out! In this case, the (now former) gun owner had been convicted (or plead out, I don't remember for sure) of a misdemeanor years before, received probation, etc. But since he could have received two years on the crime, Curran's goons took his guns and permit.

The climate in the state is the result of decades of having the majority of people here (who are concentrated in Baltimore City and two of the twenty-three counties) grow up without guns. They are the foreseeable result of the oppressive nanny state, keeping people in a perpetual condition of immaturity, of being juveniles. They natter on about entitlements, empowerment, and all the other buzzwords of the chronically dependent. Examples abound, but I will recount just one more, personal, recent anecdote.

While on vacation last month, we met a family that lives not too far from our home. Both husband and wife work for the Social Security Administration. Their viewpoints were fairly predictable. On the subject of guns (I had mentioned the premise of the "Growing Up With Guns" essay), they displayed the typical leftist horror of the very thought of non-police owning firearms. The husband started to trot out some of the usual false statistics about guns making life unsafe, for which I was able to provide detailed explanations of why that study was flawed, what the correct facts were, etc., and provide references. In fact, he could not provide any reference to any of the alleged facts he touted, and seemed unaware that such a concept as rigorous proof was to be preferred in debates; his contentions were all "everyone knows" and "it's common sense." It was enough for him that his feelings felt right to him and his circle of friends and co-workers; the idea of objective proof arrived at after scientific study/experimentation seemed foreign to him.

Just as the reporter(s) at The Sun would have been astounded to discover that anyone would disagree with their assessment of the aftermath of the failed carjacking, most anti-freedom people have nothing to buttress their arguments against the idea of personal liberty and responsibility other than "feelings." Those feelings may be dressed up as religious doctrine (whether a religious text, an environmentalist screed or "A Farewell To Arms"), supposedly supported by sham statistics from spurious sources (how's that for alliteration?), or merely alleged to be "common knowledge." Their emperor has no clothes! And the vehement hatred they reserve for us, the ad hominems, the slurs and insults, the innuendos of "hidden agendas" (a bit of transference or projection, perhaps?), all show that they subconsciously realize that their arguments have no more weight than a six-year-old's plaint of "Because!"

People that take responsibility for their lives, for the daily decisions we each make and acceptance of the consequences thereof, are the real adults. The whiners that insist that they can pass laws to make everyone happy, prosperous and/or secure are the children living in a fantasy-land that puts Peter Pan's Neverland (no Michael Jackson jokes, please) to shame. Despite thousands of years of proof to the contrary, these people continue to insist that they can nullify or circumvent human nature through legislation and regulation. They miss the central fact: we are all individuals, with different interests and different reactions to stimuli. Your hot buttons are not mine, YMMV, vive la difference! (Pardon my French.) It doesn't matter to me if the would-be tyrant is a leftist who wants to perfect me for my own good or a right-winger that feels that I must have my baser tendencies controlled to prevent me from doing evil. My reply to any of them is, "Butt out!"

I should live so long.


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