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Onerous Gun Laws Are Not The Answer

James Ellias |
January 30, 2011 | 5:49 p.m. PST

Staff Writer

The Jan. 8 shooting spree left six dead and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords outside a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by SearchNetMedia, Creative Commons)
The Jan. 8 shooting spree left six dead and wounded Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords outside a Safeway store in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by SearchNetMedia, Creative Commons)
Libraries of ineffective, impossible to remember gun control laws persecute lawful gun owners. These laws are based on range of the moment fears, not on actual principles.

In California alone there are over 500 laws regulating what ordinary gun owners can do with their guns. These laws are so subjective and numerous that even experts in the laws cannot give direct answers to simple questions like “how do I legally transport my gun in my car?”

In 1996 a law outlawing the carry of a loaded gun in a car was construed to prosecute a man who had shells attached to the outside of his shotgun.

The laws are often counterintuitive. At a gun store, one can buy a rifle and a rifle handle, but putting them together is a felony.

Basic laws that protect the lives and property of citizens are based on the moral principle of individual rights. Most adults have a basic understanding of the chaos that would ensue if these rights were not protected by law. People who have never read a law book can go through life without accidentally committing a crime because on some level they understand the reason law exists— to ensure personal freedom.

Current gun laws are onerous and ineffective because they are not based on any such principle.

A recent report by Newsweek says that the White House will unveil a new gun-control effort in response to the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

The political situation in the wake of the Tucson shooting is not unique. After every major gun crime, gun control advocates cash in on public fear to bolster new regulation.

In a Gallup poll taken last October, 69 percent of Americans were opposed to banning semi-automatic hand guns. However, an ABC poll conducted after the Virginia Tech shooting found that 55 percent of Americans favored such a ban.

This short-sighted attitude arms lawmakers with the public support needed to pass new bothersome and ineffective laws.

Since these laws are not based on any principle, they do not actually reduce instances of crime. More violence will occur, and more confusing laws will get passed.

The debate should not be about what we should do about any particular violent incident. The debate should be over what principles shape the laws involved. Once such laws are passed, gun owners will have no trouble keeping track of them since they will be based on a particular principle.

Gun laws should be based on the same principle upon which all legitimate laws are based— the protection of personal freedom. Laws against murder and theft are in place to defend our ability to act freely. On this principle, weapons and weapon conduct that pose a necessary threat to others could be made illegal. Rocket launchers for example, are not effective for self defense and cannot be used recreationally in urban areas without being a threat to others. Laws could be passed to regulate these and other weapons.

Instead of relying on subjective guesswork of which guns are ”too much,” consistent application of principles can create laws that allow us to arm ourselves for sport and self defense, while protecting us against actual threats.

Forming opinions based only on the latest tragedy prevents us from seeing the actual issues involved.


Reach Contributor James Ellias here.



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