At 03:31 PM 5/27/99 -0500, you wrote:
>Date sent: Thu, 27 May 1999 13:03:15 -0700
>From: Jerome <email@example.com>
>Subject: Re: Guns and Slaves
>Send reply to: firstname.lastname@example.org
>> 'No slave shall keep any arms whatever,
>> nor pass, unless with written orders
>> from his master or employer, or in his company,
>> with arms from one place to another.
>> Arms in possession of a slave contrary to
>> this prohibition shall be forfeited
>> to him who will seize them.'
>> -A Bill Concerning Slaves, Virginia Assembly, 1779
>Do you feel that the prohibition against owning a thermonuclear
>weapon, or Anthrax bacillus, or Sarin, or C-4, or Botulinin toxin, or
>even a submachine gun, renders you a slave? Then you have a
>pretty stultified and monochromatic view of what freedom's all about.
A few related observations, in no particular order:
Prohibitions against weapons of mass destruction are on a different level from prohibitions against weapons of personal defense. A full machine gun might be appropriate in some areas of our cities, where the police even fear to patrol, for instance. This is one reason that the cops HAVE such weapons.
Thermonuclear weapons are expensive and high-maintainance, not to mention that some small components are only available to those owning a breeder reactor.
Biological agents are there for the taking for anyone with the knowledge to do so. No laws will ever stop someone desiring anthrax or botulinin from getting it, or breeding it, or spreading it. It's like laws prohibiting certain weeds from growing. Nature does not care.
Chemical weapons share some of the same problems as nukes, but again, a good sophomore chemistry student can make the stuff if he really wants to.
The problem with laws in the US is that without a specific 'law' against the ownership of each of the mentioned items, some sharp lawyer will be able to convince a judge and jury that his client found in possession of same is innocent. Look at the way new drug laws must continually be passed to cover every new analog of an old favorite. Change the molecule, the stuff is no longer illegal until the lawmakers can pass a new law.
Assault weapons were 'banned' here in the last few years. Now you ask for a 'sport' or 'target' rifle, not an AR15 - but it fires the same ammo as the AR15, and looks just like it. All that is missing is the bayonet lug. Bayonets are banned - you can go to federal prison for putting a bayonet lug on a sport rifle.
'Saturday night specials', cheap revolvers, were also banned. So revolvers got expensive, and cheap and dangerous (to the user!) automatic pistols took their place. The automatics are not what is defined as 'saturday night specials'. Another law on the books with little real effect.
I wish the gun control advocates would start concentrating on CONTROL rather than prohibition. Control who gets legal access to a firearm, and you can safely allow that person to carry his/her weapon in public, as now the gun owner is 'certified' to carry and use the gun. Sort of like having lots of unpaid deputy cops on the street. This is the basis of the concealed carry laws on the books in many states. I would extend the testing and certification to ALL weapons buyers. Preventing unstable or criminal persons from legally owning a gun is just common sense.
The comment that 'when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns' is self evident. If all legal sources of firearms were to be closed tomorrow throughout the US, and all law-abiding citizens were to turn in their weapons, I estimate it would take organized crime about two microseconds to begin large scale gunrunning into the cities - and I mean a few orders of magnitude greater than we already have. The drugrunners and the gangbangers would rule the cities in short order - or we would need a true police state to prevent it.
What happened in Colorado would have happened in the absence of guns - the bombs would have been triggered first, rather than the shooting spree. People with a yen to commit mass murder will always find a way.
There are existing laws to deal with the straw buyer problem - use these laws to deal with the criminals as they are found. Similarly, when a criminal is found with a weapon, PUT THE SUMBITCH IN JAIL and take him/her off the streets. Law-abiding people with guns are never a threat to public safety.
Contrary to popular belief, anyone in the US who can pass the background check and pay the federal licensing fees can legally buy any kind of gun they want, from the smallest pistol through true machine guns and cannons. Use of these devices is regulated by law. Despite this, we do not see an epidemic of machine gun or cannon massacres in the US.
Even with the existing gun laws, recently a small machine shop here was busted by the Feds. The owners had produced thousands of unserialized, illegal, automatic pistols for sale to whoever had the cash. Most of the guns are still out there...
Thanks for the soapbox.