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Gun Control: The Bureaucratic Method

Yet another unconstitutional tactic to keep the law-abiding poor from owning handguns.

by
Clayton E. Cramer

Bio

June 26, 2009 - 12:20 am
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Trying to limit what types of handguns are available is not a new phenomenon. Georgia passed a ban on small handguns in 1837, which was struck down by the Georgia Supreme Court as a violation of the Second Amendment. After the Civil War, some of the southern states had to confront the same problem as California — dark-skinned people with handguns — and passed laws that prohibited some categories of handguns (the cheapest ones) while leaving the largest and most expensive models alone.

You might be asking, “So you can still buy a handgun in D.C. Who cares if you don’t have a broad selection?” It matters because limiting the supply of available models drives up the price — especially today, when frenzied gun buyers are snapping up guns even in places without restrictions. It also matters because individuals are, well, individual. I used to have a friend with severe arthritis. It took a bit of effort to find a handgun that would fit his gnarled hands and that he could shoot accurately.

So Alan Gura, who successfully sued D.C. over its handgun ban, went back into court to sue them for their attempt at limiting handguns to the California roster. And he won … sort of. D.C. has expanded the list of allowed handguns to include both Maryland and Massachusetts’ roster of safe handguns. This adds another 1,000 models of handguns to the list — expanding choices, and perhaps lowering costs, for residents of D.C.

At some point in the near future, California’s handgun roster law will end up in court. It is extraordinarily clear that the real objective of California’s handgun law was to make handguns expensive and to disarm the poor, in the same way that the Gun Control Act of 1968′s ban on “Saturday Night Specials” tried to stem the rising tide of crime by blacks in America by making guns expensive. (That the victims are overwhelmingly poor — and need to be able to defend themselves from criminals since the police lack the resources to do so — seems to go over the heads of the gun control crowd. Or perhaps they just don’t care.)

Watching Alan Gura do battle with D.C. bureaucracy reminds me just a little of Franz Kafka’s The Trial, where the protagonist finally gives up after a long sequence of hearings which grind him down by their sheer mindless emptiness. Of course Mr.Gura, unlike Kafka’s hero, gets paid to grind back on the D.C. bureaucracy — and one of these days, the D.C. bureaucracy is finally going to give up!

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Clayton E. Cramer teaches history at the College of Western Idaho. His most recent book is My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012). He is raising capital for a feature film about the Oberlin Rescue of 1858.
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