September 18, 2008

WaPo Editorial Board Beclowns Itself

As much as we in the blogosphere love to the describe nonsensical utterings of journalists, pundits, and talking heads as "self-parodying," it is rare that national news outlets truly earn that as well as the Washington Post editorial board has done with their editorial lamenting the demise of the D.C. gun ban and the passage of a House Bill that seeks to normalize D.C. citizen's rights along the lines of those recognized throughout most of the rest of the country.

The hysteric and unsigned op-ed, Open Season on the District, is really quite a wonder to behold.

THE U.S. SENATE represents the last, best hope to stop the mindless push to enact a dangerous gun law in the District. And stop it the senators must.

That "dangerous gun law" would bring the district's gun laws in line with the majority of gun restrictions in the United States, areas that have far less gun crime that historically have far less gun crime than D.C. a fact the editors purposefully avoid mentioning.

The House voted yesterday to adopt a measure that would gut the District's gun laws and that goes far beyond the Supreme Court's finding this summer of an individual right to bear arms. The bill would prohibit the District from requiring that weapons be registered -- the most reasonable and benign of measures. It would allow ownership of semiautomatic handguns and rifles and would place no age restriction on gun possession. And it would effectively strip the District of the ability to enact any regulations that could be seen as unduly burdening gun ownership. If even registration is seen as unduly burdensome, that leaves little room and little hope for other reasonable provisions.

Weapons registration, far from being "reasonable and benign," is recognized as a prelude to confiscation, and historically been used as such around the world. As a result, registration is very unpopular in the United States and is shunned in most cities and states.

Likewise, semi-automatic handguns and rifles are by far the most popular firearms purchased and owned in America today. The Post editorial board, like many who have a visceral dislike of firearms and little or no practical experience with them, either confuses semi-automatic weapons with machine guns (fully automatic weapons), or seeks to confuse and alarm the uninformed reader.

As for the comment on age restrictions, that is a purposeful deception verging on outright fabrication by the Post, and demands a correction. By Federal law, citizens must be 18 to possess handguns or handgun-only ammunition, and 21 to purchase handguns in the United States. It is true person of any age may possess a long gun (shotgun or rifle), but must be 18 by federal law to purchase one. The applicable law was designed so that minors can possess (hold, use) a firearm to participate in shooting sports. Clearly, the Post is engaging in fear-mongering to scare their readership to adopt their fear-based point-of-view.

The bill is not only a slap in the face to home rule, it is an affront to common sense and safety. How are police supposed to trace guns used in crimes if they are unregistered?

This is a pair of non-sequiturs.

"Home rule" does not excuse governments on any level in the United States from violating the Constitution, and that includes the District of Columbia. Somehow, I rather doubt the Post would venture forth with the home rule argument if the subject in question was the restriction of their First Amendment freedoms to engage in deceptive editorializing.

The registration of a firearm is irrelevant in tracing a weapon actively being used in crime, and once such a gun is confiscation the serial number is used for an ATF trace, currently used in every state, including the vast majority of those without gun registration.

How are they to protect lawmakers, dignitaries, visitors, workers and residents when guns are treated like any other product to be bought and sold with no restrictions?

Again, the "no restrictions" claim is more than hyperbole, it is a purposeful, calculated lie, as the federal laws alluded to above make clear.

As for protecting Americans and visitors, we've been doing precisely that throughout the rest of the United States for several hundred years with most areas suffering a far lower gun-related felony crime rate than D.C., this is another misleading question based upon a false assertion.

While many gun rights advocates tout their bona fides as law-and-order types, they apparently have no trouble ignoring the testimony of scores of police chiefs and law enforcement officers across the country who believe that sensible regulation saves lives.

Of course many police chiefs view gun restrictions favorably. Their primary and most immediate concern is to keep their officers alive, and if forced to admit it, their secondary concern is to minimize legal risk to teh department. A disarmed citizenry poses a lower risk to the police both legally and practically, and minimizes the chances of police being successfully sued in court for wrongfully killing an armed citizen. As police know they cannot be sued for failing to prevent crimes, they would much rather have their officers encounter disarmed victims at a crime scene than show up to find an armed and agitated citizen standing over a dead rapist or armed robber.

It doesn't mean that their preferences are better for anyone than themselves.

And never mind that even Justice Antonin Scalia, among the most conservative jurists in the land, went out of his way in District of Columbia v. Heller to note that a constitutional right to keep and bear arms and reasonable government regulation -- including registration and a ban on assault weapons -- are not mutually exclusive propositions.

Another non-sequitur. Scalia's opinion as a SCOTUS justice is not designed to be a law unto itself. His job is to interpret laws and determine if they meet Constitutional standards. The author of this editorial can just as easily argue that Scalia's opinion in Heller would support H.R. 6842, the very law this editorial so obtusely and emotionally argues against.

The drafters and supporters of this bill have done what many thought was impossible: They've made Justice Scalia look like a liberal.

Again, hyperbole that does not advance their argument, but which perhaps further advances the argument that they are finding it difficult to base their opposition on anything other than gut-level fears.

The National Rifle Association championed the bill, and House Democratic leaders caved in to its demand that the bill be brought to a vote after the organization threatened to withhold endorsements of conservative Democrats in tight races this year. Conscientious senators of both parties must now stand up to these intimidation tactics and prevent a dangerously bad bill from becoming law.

Unlike the editors of the Post, who have decided that they will attempt to tell you how to think, I'll do what they will not.

Here is the full text of House Resolution 6842, otherwise know as the National Capital Security and Safety Act. Read it for yourself.

Note that the law merely extends Second Amendment rights commonly held in the rest of the 50 states to citizens of Washington, D.C, and abolishes a patently silly D.C. law that arbitrarily labeled nearly every magazine-fed firearm machine guns.

And once you've read the law, and noted how the Post has chosen to misrepresent it, wonder how you can ever trust them to objectively report or editorialize on any subject, ever again.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at September 18, 2008 10:53 AM

Let them screech. If anyone had told me 15 years ago that the DC gunban would be under seige in this Year of Our Lord 2008, I'd have thought you were starkers. But here we are. With the Second Ammendment alive and well despite decades of assault by these cretinous totalitarians we can be (somewhat) assured of the health of the republic.

Posted by: megapotamus at September 18, 2008 12:04 PM

I disagree with your explanation of why some police chiefs support gun bans. Generally, big city police chiefs are political appointees of big city, leftist mayors. Small city police chiefs and rank and file cops are not afraid of armed civilians, and in fact prefer to deal with CHL carrying civilians. See how you are treated when you are subject to a traffic stop while holding a concealed carry license. It is practically a get out of jail card.

Posted by: George Bruce at September 18, 2008 02:02 PM

"...or seeks to confuse and alarm the uninformed reader."


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"The National Rifle Association championed the bill ..."

Shoot! (A little firearm lingo there.) They better have championed that bill, that's what we PAY them for.

And as George Bruce replied, many police chiefs and rank and file officers support the NRA and the Rights of civilians.

I find it ironic that the people and organizations that support the Second Amendment are often referred to as "gun nuts," when it's the people and organizations devoted to destroying the Second Amendment that are clearly deranged.

Posted by: DoorHold at September 21, 2008 12:05 PM

Begging your pardon, but you have the wrong bill. The one you reference, H.R. 6842, was introduced by DC non-voting Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton and would do nothing else but require that the DC government to actually pass laws in compliance with the Heller decision. It would give them 180 days to do what Wilmette, IL managed to do in less than a week.

The bill you're looking for is H.R. 6691, the Second Amendment Enforcement Act. You can find that write-up here:

This bill passed the House this past Wednesday. (Posted at my blog, if you'll pardon the shameless plug:

Posted by: Ric James at September 22, 2008 12:05 AM