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Tuesday, March 21, 2017

RTD's A. Barton Hinkle Explains What's Wrong With Gun Rationing

It didn't take long after it was reported that 22 Virginia residents were involved in a firearm trafficking scheme and arrested by New York City authorities for people like Governor Terry McAuliffe to call for the reinstatement of handgun rationing:

Last week, the Richmond Time-Dispatch opinion writer A. Barton Hinkle had a column titled "Maybe it's time for gun owners and Muslim advocates to join hands."  Hinkle combined two issues into one to make the case that throwing a wide net to deal with bad people often negatively impact the majority who don't do bad things more than it impacts those who do.  On the gun issue, I found this to be a strong argument in response to Governor McAuliffe:
A few things about the story bear noting: Two of the ringleaders are violent convicts. Some of the bulk firearm sales were effected through straw purchases, which are illegal. And shipping the guns up to New York also is illegal. That is, after all, why authorities were able to bring charges in the first place.

This should chasten gun-control advocates, since it shows that the system works: Guns were seized and bad guys charged, and a successful operation makes an odd basis on which to build a case for even more restrictions. But the outcome also should chasten gun-control opponents, since laws against gun-running and straw purchases are part of gun control. Not every attempt at gun control is an abject failure.

Yet a bigger point needs drawing out. The trouble with the one-gun-a-month law is that it truncates the rights of all Virginians, in order to thwart the designs of a minuscule minority who want to run guns to New York. To the ordinary gun owner in Virginia, who follows the law and leaves other people alone unless they mess with him first, it must seem brutally unfair to restrict his right to keep and bear arms because of something somebody else did, or might do in the future.
Current laws worked.  Law enforcement caught a lot of bad actors.  And, they did so without the rest of us having to have our rights infringed.

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