'We live in frightening times'

| Saturday, March 9, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Here's the latest news from the Gun War front:

• A bill introduced in the Florida Legislature would require anger-management courses every 10 years for those buying ammunition.

From the proposal: “It is unlawful to: A) Sell ammunition to another person who does not present certification that he or she has successfully completed an anger-management program consisting of at least 2 hours online or face-to-face instruction in anger-management techniques.”

Aside from smearing all gun owners as being predisposed to anger, and thus unqualified to operate a firearm, the measure would be a form of unconstitutional prior restraint. ...

• A proposed Colorado law would hold gun makers liable for crimes committed with their “assault-style” guns. Not only is such a measure nonsensical — it would be like holding Ford responsible for someone using a Mustang to run over somebody — it's patently illegal.

By federal statute, as former appellate Judge Andrew Napolitano reminds, the manufacturer and the seller of a gun cannot be held liable for the criminal use by the end user. ...

• Another Colorado proposal would have once again allowed college campuses to ban concealed weapons. It died on Friday. But once again, and by law, Colorado sought to make sitting ducks dead ducks. ...

• The Southern Poverty Law Center does its damnedest in a new report to link the fight against new and unconstitutional gun-control measures to “a real and rising threat of domestic terrorism as the number of far-right antigovernment groups continue to grow at an astounding pace.” It says “the potential for deadly violence is real, and clearly rising.”

Of course, had SPLC been around in the 1770s, it would have branded the Sons of Liberty as a “hate group.” Demanding fealty to the Bill of Rights is “a real and rising threat”? As SPLC senior fellow Mark Potok would say (but, of course, in another context): “We live in frightening times.” ...

• Writing for The Independent Institute, Don B. Kates Jr. references a 2004 study by the National Academy of Sciences that found no “gun restriction ... had reduced violent crime, suicide or gun accidents.”

The study reviewed 253 scholarly journal articles, 99 books, 43 government publications and empirical research of its own. One of the journal articles came from David Mustard, writing in the University of Pennsylvania Law Review. Here's a telling excerpt:

When I started my research on guns in 1995, I passionately disliked firearms and fully accepted the conventional wisdom that increasing the gun-ownership rate would necessarily raise violent crime and accidental deaths. My views on this subject were formed primarily by media accounts of firearms, which unknowingly to me systematically emphasized the costs of the firearms while virtually ignoring their benefits.

I thought it obvious that passing laws that permitted law-abiding citizens to carry concealed weapons would create many problems. It is now over six years since I became convinced otherwise and concluded that shall-issue laws — laws that require (gun carry permits) to be granted unless the applicant has a criminal record or a history of significant mental illness — reduce violent crime and have no impact on accidental deaths.

Ah, yes, those pesky facts once again slaying the conventional wisdom that's neither conventional nor wise.

Colin McNickle is Trib Total Media's director of editorial pages (412-320-7836 or cmcnickle@tribweb.com).

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