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Jewish World Review March 29, 2000/22 Adar II, 5760

Don Feder

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Clinton and Gore bang away at guns -- THE GUN-CONTROL movement is driven by raw emotion. Facts are irrelevant. Logic is spurned. Utter nonsense is solemly intoned.

It's little wonder that our most emotive president has made gun control his signature domestic issue.

According to Democratic pollster Mark Penn, Bill Clinton "wants this as one of his final-year legislative achievements. But if he can't have it, he can help frame the debate to help his party."

In pursuit of these goals, the president employs typically overblown rhetoric. "Once again, the gun lobby and its allies in the leadership of Congress is standing in the way of real progress (by not enacting the pending panacea)," he charges.

Furthermore, "We battle not just for the safety of our families, but for the soundness of our democracy." It's either trigger locks or the Constitution is crumpled and representative government ceases to exist.

Vice President Al Gore mimics the master. After the murder of 6-year-old Kayla Rolland by one of her first-grade classmates, Gore asked what it would take to wake up Congress to the urgent need for more regulation. "Shootings in kindergarten? Shootings in nursery school?"

The child who killed Kayla has a father in jail and a mother on drugs, and lived in a crack house with his uncle. Clearly, we need a new law to make drug dealers behave responsibly with their illegal handguns.

And then there's Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., who informs us: "The moms of this country have had it. We represent the people of the United States. The NRA does not."

In 1993, McCarthy's husband was killed and her son critically wounded by the Long Island Railroad gunman. Colin Ferguson's rampage was triggered by the anti-white racism spewed by the likes Louis Farrakhan and Khalid Muhammad. (The latter even suggested that God guided Ferguson's hand.) McCarthy blames not the racists who incited her husband's killer but the weapon he used. It's so much easier to demonize an object than confront human evil.

Each new gun law is the magic bullet, so to speak, guaranteed to counter criminals who, by definition, ignore legal enactments. After it passes, we hear no more about it, as it's on to the next proposal, which it is urged, will accomplish what the last law -- and all those that preceded it -- failed to achieve.

The latest occasion for bombast by team Clinton-Gore is a mandate to require gun-show dealers to take up to 72 hours conducting background checks on buyers -- passed by the Senate, stalled in conference committee.

Proponents portray gun shows as slaughter super-stores. But the events are hardly unregulated. As federally licensed firearm dealers, over 60 percent of vendors are already required to do background checks.

According to a 1997 Justice Department study, less than 2 percent of firearms used to commit crimes come from shows, compared to 35 percent obtained on the street.

But fear not, moms of America. After gun shows are gored and trigger locks mandated, Clinton-Gore will go to work on the next scheme (floated in the last State of the Union address) -- compelling states to issue photo-ID handgun licenses. One would have to be as unreasonable as the NRA to object to such a prudent measure.

Actually, writes Andrew Stuttaford in the Feb. 21 National Review, "the unreasonable have a point. New York City's licensing system has turned a right into a privilege. Like all privileges, it's enjoyed only by the few." In a city of 7 million, there are roughly 40,000 licenses.

Stuttaford spent the better part of a year, ran the gauntlet of three interviews and was made to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops to obtain a license allowing him to: A) purchase a gun, B) keep it (locked) in his domicile, and C) take it to a firing range twice a month in a locked box.

Stuttaford advises, "If you want to find out what that modest-sounding licensing requirement can mean in the hands of a bureaucracy that doesn't want you to have a handgun, come here, to the City."

The march of folly proceeds apace. However, at least we can take comfort in this: If Clinton is convicted of perjury after he leaves office, as a felon he will be barred for life from owning a firearm. Not that he'll need one, with his Secret Service bodyguards. Still, it is symbolically fitting.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest book is Who's Afraid of the Religious Right. Comment on his column by clicking here.


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© 2000, Creators Syndicate