This man at least has done some serious thinking about gun rights.Something Gov.Corzine and Mr. Miller are incapable of doing.
Posted by George Berkin
I do not own any guns. I do not like guns. I am afraid of guns, even in the right hands. I even think that some people take this Second Amendment stuff too far. Just to make myself real clear, I am not a "gun nut."
But sometimes, I've got to agree with the "pro-gun" crowd.
This comes to mind in the wake of last week's news that Gov. Jon Corzine has signed yet another gun-control law.
In this latest piece of legislation, lawmakers stiffened the penalties for unlawful possession of prohibited assault rifles or machine guns. Violators could get up to 10 years behind bars.
The new law was welcomed by the executive director of Ceasefire NJ, a gun control group (or see You Tube here), who said such weapons have no legitimate purpose.
"They're meant to kill as many people as possible," said Bryan Miller "They endanger all of us in the state of New Jersey."
In one sense, there's a lot of reason to what he said. Hunting? It hardly seems fair to cut down Bambi or another white-tailed wonder with a bazooka.
But still, I'm somewhat troubled by this, yet another law controlling weapons, for several reasons.
First, the law assumes that it is the mere presence of weapons that causes crime. Toughen the laws against illegal gun possession, and that will reduce the number of weapons on the street, which will in turn reduce the incidence of crime. Or so the theory goes.
The "story line," as it were, has the added advantage that it has clearly defined villains: machine guns and assault weapons.
But the story line is too easy.
Now, truth be told, a certain amount of gun control is warranted. There should be waiting periods, required training, and careful checks on who buys handguns. All these impress upon law-abiding citizens the responsibilities involved in owning firearms.
But let's take the case of an assault weapon. The new law assumes that, say, 10 years in prison as opposed to less time will stop a determined gang member from getting his hands on the weapon, and then using it.
Is that true? I don't know.
But if it's not, then the law is just posturing. It sounds nice, but it really doesn't have any impact on what happens on the street.
It makes us feel good, and makes legislators seem busy, but it seems a false security.
It's a little like passing stricter ethics laws, another favorite pastime for New Jersey legislators.
New ethics laws are feel good laws. So feel good, in fact, that most times when a new ethics law is passed, it gets laudatory coverage from most reporters.
But does it do anything?
It's not that public officials don't know that they should not take bribes. Or that they were about to take a bribe but - oops, almost forgot - there's a law against it.
According to the Star-Ledger article announcing last week's beefed-up gun-control law, New Jersey has the second-toughest weapons control statues in the nation. Only California's laws are stricter. (However, I'm not sure who judges this, or how.)
But clearly, there is a lot of crime in Newark, Camden and other New Jersey cities. I'm not convinced of a correlation between strict gun control laws and a reduction of urban crime.
What bothers me is that that this gun control legislation, it seems, substitutes tougher laws for a recognition of what causes crime - fallen human beings, the wicked human heart.
From a biblical perspective, evangelicals believe man's fallen state - more than circumstances - causes anti-social and criminal actions.
And of course, you can't legislate people into better attitudes toward their fellow man.
But I guess what I'm asking for a little humility on the part of legislators, a little recognition that it is human beings that are causing crime, not simply the absence of laws against high-powered of weapons.
Maybe even something as simple as a statement to that effect.
We've all heard the cliche, popular among the "pro-gun" crowd, that "guns don't kill people, people kill people."
Sure, it's little overdramatic, and has the ring of a slogan. Perhaps, but there's a kernel of truth in it.