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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regulating guns doesn’t mean banning guns

    Talk about losing perspective.

    The Arizona Senate is mulling over legislation that would let anyone carry a concealed handgun without a permit. The bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Friday and now faces a vote by the Senate. Even in a Republican-dominated legislature, though, it’s a tough sell.

    The bill’s primary advocate is Sen. Sylvia Flake, R-Snowflake, who argues that “”pro-gun states”” like Alaska and Vermont, where permits for concealed weapons are not required, are safer than Arizona, presumably an “”anti-gun state”” because it does require permits. “”Criminals could care less about any of the gun laws we pass,”” she told the Arizona Daily Star. “”Gun laws are to restrict me, the law-abiding citizen. It’s not to restrict the criminal.””

    Mesa’s Sen. Russell Pearce is another firm backer of the measure. “”We have laws against bad guys,”” Pearce told the Star. “”Let’s give the good guys the right to do what I think our founders decided a long time ago when they recognized our God-given right to bear arms.””

    Behind this peculiar campaign for a peculiar cause lie some very, very peculiar assumptions.

    First of all, the notion that laws exist solely to restrict “”bad guys”” is ludicrous. No bad guys are punished by the law that you can’t drive on the left side of the road, or the law prohibiting drivers from “”cutting corners”” through parking lots to avoid waiting at intersections. Should we throw these laws out because they wrongly target “”law-abiding citizens””?

    Second, the argument that laws should be tailored to the actions of lawbreakers is perverse. While hardened criminals might not care about gun laws, “”criminals”” are not a separate class of people who exist in another realm from the rest of us, like the masked, stripe-clad bandits in cartoons. As the news reminds us every week with wrenching candor, horrific crimes happen in ordinary neighborhoods.

    Finally, requiring a permit of a concealed gun carrier is hardly an unreasonable requirement. Guns are serious business – they kill people. That’s what they’re intended for. They might be a necessary evil in any society, but we shouldn’t delude ourselves into thinking that even “”law-abiding citizens”” can teach themselves gun safety and accuracy in every instance.

    Why not apply these absolutist standards to everything? Imagine how we’d react if a senator sponsored a bill that allowed people to drive cars without first obtaining driver’s licenses. What could be more arbitrary than forcing people to buy licenses before they can operate a motor vehicle? You paid for that car with your own money, after all. Why should you need permission from a state bureaucracy to drive it?

    The answer, of course, is that there isn’t any moral reason why the state should have such absolute authority to regulate driving, any more than it should be permitted to tell us what to eat for dinner. Driving is a right that we allow to be slightly restricted in order to reduce the likelihood that we’ll be rear-ended on the way to work. Similarly, gun ownership is a right that we allow to be restricted for a right we value slightly more: our right to ride the bus without worrying that the lunatic sitting next to us is going to decide to back up his blithering diatribe with a bullet.

    Nothing could be easier than to portray opponents of this measure as liberal ideologues bent on subverting the Second Amendment. In fact, there’s a seed of truth in the measure. It’s true that the concealed-carry laws need fine-tuning to avoid prosecuting, say, parents who drop their kids off at school without first running home to drop off their guns. But the answer isn’t dispensing with the laws altogether. Some people get away with not paying their taxes, but the solution to that problem isn’t getting rid of taxes.

    This measure is mob-baiting demagoguery of the worst stripe. The senate should resist the urge to pass it – though it would certainly take the electorate’s minds, however temporarily, off their government’s woeful failings -ÿand bow to the reality that gun ownership, like every other right, is not an absolute right. If you think it is, try exercising your First Amendment right to walk into the Oval Office and tell the president how you’d run the country some time.

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