Guns of New York: A Modest Proposal

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It appears
that Michael Daly, a writer at the New York Daily News, has
a problem with guns

He writes
articles decrying the “500,000 illegal handguns” that apparently
flood this city. He writes with approval of Mayor Bloomberg’s recent
lawsuit against out-of-state gun dealers, whose legally purchased
products end up involved in violent crimes in New York. In his thinking,
it’s clearly the gun’s fault these heinous crimes were committed,
not the gun user’s.

Now Daly wants
to emblazon Times Square with a gargantuan map of the US, and, using
data from the BATF, mark the places where the most guns are sold
and distributed in this country. Presumably, the result of this
would be a giant public outcry, democracy would somehow happen,
and the scourge of guns would be magically and forever erased from
the body politic — we would then all love each other and sing kumbaya.

No one likes
to see anyone — children and elderly in particular — tragically
caught in the crossfire of urban violence. But banning guns and
going after out of state dealers is only a lame attempt to place
blame for New York’s urban problems elsewhere. It’s a shallow and
self-serving political move that will achieve nothing of substance.

The world in
which we find ourselves is a direct result of policy decisions made
decades ago, with those presently in charge unable or unwilling
to risk major reform. Because we have created a massive bureaucratic
welfare state, where drugs are illegal, and entire population groups
— mostly people of color — see little hope for a better economic
future, we have urban social decay, a degraded education system,
and local drug gangs fighting over turf and cash. We need to strike
to the root of the problems, not just keep on applying layer upon
layer of band-aids, in vain hopes of keeping the lid on.

If we declared
the Drug War a failure, legalized them, and then when the dust settled,
found creative ways to give every American a real stake in his/her
own futures (perhaps by deregulating the economy, for starters),
such violence and decay would dramatically diminish. A simple solution
— implementation, however, is the hard part. It would require
massive public will and a major turnaround in attitude of the entrenched
political class, with a reborn desire to show real leadership.

Guns are a
tool of violence — just one of many — and admittedly one
of the most effective. But they are not the cause of violence
in and of themselves. I can’t bring myself to believe the liberal-statist
illusion that if we just eliminated guns, somehow, we’d see no more
dead children. Well, last I checked, handguns were, in effect, “banned”
in New York City. Do you know any New Yorkers with a legal conceal-carry
permit? Thus is the source of that massive gun influx — as repressive
laws against guns and (some) drugs have taught us, people will obtain
whatever it is they need to obtain, for whatever reasons.

So I will
offer here a modest solution to the problem of a half-million illegal
handguns in New York. And I stole it right out of George W. Bush’s
playbook. We’ll offer a “path to legalization” for these weapons.
(Please don’t call it “amnesty.”) Those who own these guns will
be asked to simply register them. After standing in line, filling
out forms, paying some fines, and solemnly agreeing to attend gun-safety
classes, these gun-owners will be henceforth “legalized,” with full
conceal-carry permits, and all the rights, privileges and responsibilities
accorded thereto. These new legal gun-owners will now become proud
responsible citizens, give up their old ways, pay their taxes, and
even assist the police in defending the innocent and apprehending
real criminals — those who aggress against persons and property.

Of course they
will. And New York cops will let them.

would suggest to people like Mr. Daly and Senator Charles Schumer,
who recently described those defending our fundamental right to
self-defense as having a “misguided,
ideological fetish,”
that the true “sickness” in this
culture today isn’t the desire to own a gun, but rather to render
every law-abiding hard-working citizen in our society a potentially
helpless crime victim. Scratch the surface of a gun-grabber, and
underneath you will find a fear-mongering control freak.

19, 2006

Thomas Andrew
Olson [send
him mail
] is a New York-based writer and speaker,
whose topics range from technology and the future to politics and
policy. Here is his blog.

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