Gun ban doesn’t work |

Gun ban doesn’t work

Is it criminal? Or is it just against the law? This is the great American tragedy, that we have come to use the law like a referendum to express our disapproval of certain behaviors rather than to control and/or discourage truly harmful actions.

At the turn of the last century, the criminal code dealt primarily with misdeeds involving the initiation of force by one person against another – murder, rape, robbery, mayhem, assault, or with fear (extortion, blackmail), or with deliberate fraud and deceit. These were all things which the average person could perceive as crimes. It was not necessary to retain counsel to know if something was a crime – its demonstrable harm was its insignia.

The worst manifestation of this trend is the attempt to ban things instead of behaviors, as if the things had the power to cause crimes by simple possession. Alcohol prohibition was a giant lesson, apparently still not learned, in why this approach does not work. Legislation such as the Roberti-Roos Assault Weapon law is another.

A member of our community who probably does not fit the classic description of “criminal” is facing serious prison time as a result of an outrageous, complex, totally unnecessary and probably unconstitutional law.

This law is so poorly crafted that it is not possible to know whether one is in violation of it or not. Assault weapons are either listed as specific make and model or defined generically. Do all the listed weapons fit the generic definition? No. Do weapons not listed and not matching the generic definition have the same “high rate of fire and capacity for firepower” decried by the bill’s authors? You bet. The Ruger Mini-30 mentioned in The Union is not an assault weapon. Ignoring the grenade launcher issue, the SKS is functionally identical to the Ruger, shoots the same ammunition, and has none of the features of the generic definition, but it is on the list, and is therefore an assault weapon.

The hallmark of despotic government is that it makes criminals out of ordinary people.

Robert Chrisman

Nevada City

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