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April 12, 2013

The great gun control fizzle

(Continued)

But it gets complicated quickly when you try to control almost every transfer of a gun. Sen. Chuck Schumer's current version of the bill would forbid a "temporary transfer" to a friend for target shooting if the range is not "owned or occupied by a duly incorporated organization organized for conservation purposes or to foster proficiency in firearms." Got it?

Surely, we can figure out a way to do more at gun shows. But despite the obsession with them, gun shows are beside the point. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "In 1997, among state inmates possessing a gun, fewer than 2 percent bought their firearm at a flea market or gun show, about 12 percent from a retail store or pawnshop, and 80 percent from family, friends, a street buy, or an illegal source."

Gun control always founders on the paradox that it is possible to write new laws for the law-abiding but difficult or impossible to reach criminals who don't care about laws. Michigan has required a permit to purchase a handgun since 1927. The rule has evidently made no impression on those bent on doing harm to others in Detroit or Flint.

The gun control debate has subtly shifted away from Newtown, even though the president keeps bringing his case back to that atrocity. Nothing that happened in Newtown had anything to do with background checks. No background check law will ever prevent someone like Sandy Hook gunman Adam Lanza's mother from buying guns unless the parents of children with autismlike-symptoms are to be banned from owning firearms.

The president's push for new gun laws looks, at this juncture, like a complete fizzle. He has failed to sway red state Democrats and failed to maintain the heightened public support for new gun control laws. The most concrete effect of his advocacy has been, if the anecdotal evidence is to be believed, to stoke increased gun purchases on fears that the government wants to ban guns.

He set out to lead a great crusade for gun control and ended up the best friend the gun industry ever had.

(c) 2013 by King Features Syndicate

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