Guest Commentary

Arizona is doing guns right; President Obama is "afraid of knowledge"

An amazing thing happened in 2004: The sun set on the federal assault weapons ban. I never thought any gun law would be allowed to expire. But wait, it gets better. Prior to that, in 1987, faced with an ever-increasing violent crime rate, the state of Florida passed a new type of concealed carry permit. It was different in that any law-abiding citizen who met the requirements would get a permit. Concealed carry permit laws up until then were actually left-over Jim Crow laws—a local sheriff or police chief could cancel any permit application without cause, and without appeal, so permits could be denied to people of color.

Many other states followed suit. Most of these states were red states, including Arizona. Most of the Jim Crow laws existed in Eastern blue states. Then another incredible thing happened. Arizona took the next step, and got rid of the law that prevented people from carrying concealed, or discreetly, in the first place! The permit system remained in place, since it did provide certain benefits to the holder. Liberty was on a roll!

In his book More Guns, Less Crime, John Lott surveyed data from every single county in the United States. He wanted to find out if the wave of Florida-style "Shall Issue" permits had any effect on violent crime. The answer was "yes." They made violent crime rates go down. Alas, the forces aligned against liberty never sleep. After the massacre of children in Connecticut, the ant-liberty forces "pulled the trigger" on their latest attack on the Bill of Rights. They couldn't resist exploiting the dead children. Sen. Dianne Feinstein wanted to reinstate the federal assault weapons ban and require universal background checks on every firearm transaction (dealer or private sale), effectively building a list of firearms owners like some sort of sex offender registry.

Feinstein, by her own admission, had been working on the bill over the past year, a time during which those who stocked up on guns and ammo were laughed at (no one is laughing now).

President Obama, proving that he is comfortable with not only exploiting dead children but live children, too, held a press conference in which he was surrounded by little kids and announced his list of 23 executive orders, and called on Congress to pass more laws that will have no effect on crime.

The president said, "We should not be afraid of knowledge." I agree. I just wish he believed it. John Lott points out that "In 2003, the last full year before the ban expired, the U.S. murder rate was 5.7 per 100,000 people, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation's uniform crime report. By 2011, the murder rate fell to 4.7 per 100,000 people. One should also bear in mind that just 2.6 percent of all murders are committed using any type of rifle." Stop the deaths! No rifle bans!

A note about "high-capacity" magazines: Twenty-round magazines for AR-15 rifles are not high-capacity. They are the standard magazines that were designed along with the guns. "Why do you need a 20-round magazine?" some people have asked me. First, why does one feel the need to ask that question? I don't have to justify my exercising of my right—but I'll offer a couple of anecdotes.

Many Korean business owners, who in 1992 found themselves in the middle of the Los Angeles riots, defended their families and their businesses with military-style rifles. If you and your son each have a rifle, and your building is being threatened by a violent mob, you are probably glad to have a 20-round magazine. More recently, a 15-year-old boy was home alone with his younger sister when two men attempted a home invasion at his house from two different entry points. The boy drove them off with his father's AR-15 rifle, protecting himself and his sister. Sorry, no dead children this time. An AR-15 rifle may not have a place in a movie theater, but it certainly has a place in the home or business.

I suspect that many of you have never heard of one or both of these events, yet you know who Adam Lanza is. Why is that?

So, if guns—"assault rifles" in particular—are not the problem, what is the point of attempting to deny an enumerated right of the people? Particularly one that "shall not be infringed"?

About The Author

Jonathan Hoffman

Jonathan Hoffman moved to Tucson from Connecticut in 1977 and never looked back. He attended the UA, ran for City Council Ward III in 2001, and made regular contributions to the Guest Commentary section of the Tucson Weekly for over five years. He helped launch the Southern Arizona News Examiner. He is a former...
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