Friday, July 11, 2008

Bang, Bang?

On one hand, it's gratifying that some gun shops near DC (as there are none in the city proper, nor has there been for decades) are finally verifying whether potential handgun customers are from the District, at least until the DC City Council passes legislation specifying the conditions under DC residents can lawfully own the weapons.

However, why the heightened sense of responsiblity now? The DC handgun ban was in effect for thirty years, as everyone is well aware. Why didn't suburban gunshop owners feel a civic duty to verify customers' residence while the ban was effect, before it was struck down by the Supreme Court? This conscience-come-lately stance is hypocritical, at the very least, if not downright disgusting.

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It's hard to figure out which is more worrisome--the manner in which the DC handgun ban was overturned (the fact that it was DC's law which made it to the Supreme Court suggests that DC is being made an experiment, yet again), or the reasoning underlying much of the public support for overturning the ban. The fact that some of the many groups which filed amici briefs in the case (District of Columbia v. Heller) believe that a person holding a handgun would be able dial 911 with the opposite hand, means that like much of the general public, ostensibly educated people place too much faith in the ability of handguns alone for self defense.

While it is true that under the right circumstances, you can defend yourself adequately with a handgun, there are too many caveats with gun possession to make it a first line of self defense.

For instance, late last year, a gun store in the region was robbed. Sadly and shockingly, such a situation is not that unusual, as many of the guns used in crimes are stolen; however, before that robbery, I was previously unaware that many guns are stolen from gun stores as well as from homes. Such a state of affairs would seem to suggest that if you sense a need to acquire a gun to protect yourself at home, you should take other measures first, such as having an alarm system installed, and using that alarm system; unfortunately, only half of homeowners having such systems actually turn them on, negating the purpose! Of course, other preventive security measures should be used as well, with any thought of acquiring a handgun as a last resort.

In the words of Ice-T's song, the best lethal weapon is your mind.

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