Pot Shots

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Thanks to conspiracy rumors, attendance was up at the “Crossroads of the West” gun show June 1-2 at the OC Fairgrounds. A friend e-mailed that billionaire George Soros was buying ammunition producers on the QT and cutting supply to drive up prices, so gun owners were racing to stock up.

I wrote back that Soros never does anything on the QT. He takes out full page ads to brag about what he’s up to, so it’s more likely this is just capitalism at work. When there are only a few “oligopoly” producers and demand jumps, they often turn into profiteers and jack up prices.

A few days later, a young man with mental problems, an assault weapon, and multiple magazines with hundreds of rounds of ammo ran amok in Santa Monica shooting half a dozen people. No reason to think he did his shopping at the OC Fairgrounds, but, then again, there’s no rule that would have stopped him.

While we’re on the subject, did you know more than 900,000 Americans have been killed by guns in the past three decades. Usually when we are confronted by such appalling news, Americans cry, “There oughta be a law.” We already have more restrictive gun laws in California, and Sacramento has already responded to the Sandy Hook massacre with a dozen new measures. Some of these would have made it more difficult or expensive for the guy in Santa Monica.

Of course, yahoos in states like Texas are against gun laws, so it might be nice to have new Federal legislation to even things out. Unfortunately, the NRA beat back proposals in the Senate for universal background checks, so it doesn’t look promising. If the Senate does pass a law, our Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher,  has an “A” rating from the NRA and will vote with the yahoos. Makes you wonder who he really represents.

We associate the phrase “never let a good crisis go to waste” with Chicago Mayor Rom Emanuel, but ironically the NRA is a master at it. After each tragedy, they raise the specter of repeal of the 2nd Amendment or AK-47 confiscations. NRA memberships get renewed, contributions roll in, and millions are budgeted for the next election cycle.

A favorite NRA argument is that gun laws only keep good guys from owning assault weapons and bad guys still get them. To me, that’s like saying laws against drunk driving only keep sober people off the roads and drunks drive anyway. Okay, maybe DUI laws don’t solve all the problems, but it doesn’t follow that we should stop trying.

The NRA also thinks limiting the capacity of magazines on assault weapons is a hardship. When I was a kid back in Minnesota, we had a law requiring plugs in shotguns limiting capacity to three shells. This was done for gun safety and as a conservation effort to help save a few ducks and pheasants. No sportsman thought it was a big hardship.

The NRA opposes preventive measures. Their latest solution to gun violence is to spend billions on armed patrols so good guys and bad guys can have shoot outs at schools and other public places. Really? Strange logic. Reminds me of when our daughter went on a “Semester at Sea” in the Mediterranean. While in Egypt, she phoned to say, “Don’t worry, Dad, they have armed guards on every bus.” You can imagine how reassuring that was to her mother and me.

Anyway, don’t count on the uproar fading this time. Mentally ill gun owners keep going over the edge. NY Mayor Bloomberg plans to spend $12 million of his own money on gun control ads, and the NRA plans to spend millions more. So we’ll probably be hearing about guns right up to the next election.

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