Monday, December 1, 2008

When the NFL Meets the NRA

I'm going to delve into the sports pages for this entry because there's a bigger political point that can be made. New York Giants wide receiver Plaxico Burress turned himself in to the New York Police Department after he accidentally shot himself in the leg with a handgun he owned and was carrying with him to a nightclub on Friday. In New York City, it is illegal to carry and discharge a gun, and on the surface it's a great idea. Having been to the Big Apple a couple of times, I can tell you it's mile-a-minute action. Throw in a few angry and armed people and you have yourself the possibility of a gun fight in the streets on an hourly basis like at a tourist trap version of the OK Corral.

But that's the thing about gun laws: they only work when people follow them. The fact that New York City has restrictive gun laws didn't stop Burress from having one on his person in New York City. Nor does it stop criminals, who tend to have a healthy disdain for laws in the first place. Funny how that works out, huh? With Burress's actions, we have yet another example of how gun control laws, no matter how strict, cannot overcome human nature. If someone wants to do something and believes he or she can get away with it, he or she will do it.

And that's been one argument the National Rifle Association and its supporters have been saying for a long time. Contrary to popular myth, the NRA doesn't want there to be gunfights on every street like in the myth of the Old West. Instead, they want gun owners to be allowed to carry a gun if they so choose, but do so responsibly. Although Burress's actions could be used to make the argument that gun ownership by irresponsible people is dangerous (which it is), the stronger message is that restrictive gun laws don't work all that well.

Regardless of how you feel about guns personally, it's time we be honest about the effectiveness of gun laws. Banning assault rifles or requiring 7 day waiting periods may make people feel better, but they don't work on anyone who isn't law-abiding in the first place. All they do is make it more likely that the law-abiding will become victims of the lawless. Maybe it's me, but that seems backwards. With yet another failure of gun laws on the books, in newspapers and magazines, and on TV, radio, and the Internet, it's getting harder for the pro-gun control side to make the point that more gun laws will equal less gun-related crimes.

In fact, one could say it's become a task of Giant proportions.

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