What is an “illegal gun?”
The Mayors Against Illegal Guns – an organization this column wrote about recently in connection with the launch of a group called Gun Owners Against Illegal Mayors – doesn’t seem to define the term. It seems to suggest that guns carried illegally by street thugs, or even honest citizens who have been denied carry licenses and permits because they could not prove a “compelling need” under some arbitrary law, are “illegal guns.”
In the firearms community, an “illegal gun” would be on the order of a sawed-off shotgun with a barrel shortened in someone’s garage with a hacksaw. It would be a handgun with the serial number ground off, or an illegally-altered semiautomatic rifle that now fires full-auto.
But for the most part, these “illegal” guns are perfectly legal, they just happen to be in the wrong hands.
So now into this morass steps New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, complaining in the New York Daily News and Business Insider, that President Barack Obama hasn’t done anything about “gun violence.” Whatever that is, Mr. Kelly does not offer any defining difference between that and other forms of criminal violence, such as knife violence or baseball bat violence, hammer or crowbar violence. A fellow with his experience in law enforcement should know that the victim is no less dead if bludgeoned with a brick than shot with a firearm.
Perhaps Mr. Kelly could elaborate on just what it is he thinks Mr. Obama might do about this “gun violence” and how he might accomplish that. There is little doubt in the firearms community that the president would push for a renewed and permanent ban on so-called “assault weapons” and maybe even “cheap handguns” if he thought he had the votes in Congress. There is a suspicion among some gun rights activists that if the president thought he could get away with it, he would mandate such bans by decree.
All that aside, this talk about “illegal guns” seems like so much demonization; a subliminal campaign to convince people that guns are illegal. One might suspect it’s the same strategy that dubbed semiautomatic sport-utility rifles as “assault weapons.”
What seems to distress Kelly and his boss, Michael Bloomberg, is guns in public hands, when the problem is guns in the wrong hands. That doesn’t make the gun illegal, but it puts the spotlight right where it belongs, on the user. By this time Wednesday, this column will have more to say about that.
Shooting Blanks: Facts Don’t Matter to the Gun Ban Crowd
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