Can't Ban Guns, So Let's Ban Things That Look Like Them

It's hard to imagine why anyone would want to own a gun-shaped cell phone case. Nevertheless, they're apparently a thing. Legislators in Minnesota seek to ban them. From local ABC affiliate KSTP:

... If passed, beginning Aug. 1, ownership and distribution of the cases would be a petty misdemeanor offense carrying a fine of up to $300.

“They look like a gun, which instantly brings fear to the people around them,” Rep.  Joe Atkins, DFL-Inger Grove Heights, said. “They’re stupid, and they shouldn’t be on the streets.”

At the hearing, Paul Schnell, Maplewood’s police chief, said that police officers may confuse the cases for live firearms in high-stress or low-light situations. In those circumstances, officers would have to make “split-second” decisions that could result in “potential loss of life,” Schnell said. The cases also increase the number of service calls to police from fearful residents and “diminish the sense of public safety,” Schnell said.

None of these rationalizations for the ban seem legitimate. Atkins' assessment of gun-shaped cell phone cases as "stupid" may be fair. But the stupidity of a thing should not determine whether it is legal.

What's next, banning toy guns? Those too have brought fear, prompted service calls to police, and resulted in unfortunate police-involved shootings. However, those are reasons for discretion, not legislation, especially when you take into consideration that laws do not physically stop people from doing things. The fear and service calls will continue regardless. The difference under this bill will merely be revenue collection by government.

It's fair to bet that the real motivation for this legislation has little to do with public safety or efficiency of government, and everything to do with scoring a victory over something that looks like a gun. Gun control efforts in Minnesota have been largely dead on arrival, opposed by the Republican-controlled House, and lacking support from rural Democrats. So this is a way for certain legislators to claim they've accomplished something on the anti-gun front, even if it has nothing whatsoever to do with an actual gun.