- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2001

If gun-control advocates only want to bar criminals from gaining access to guns and to "close loopholes" in the law that make it easier for crooks to get firearms why are they backing legislation that would prohibit lawful gun shows on state-owned property, where all state and federal firearms transactions procedures are followed to the letter?

That's exactly what's happening in Maryland, where gun-control groups are pushing a bill that would prohibit the sale or display of guns on any property owned by the Maryland National Park Planning Commission. If passed, the legislation would make many of the annual gun shows all of them entirely legal; no one even argues the point that take place in the state of Maryland all but impossible to continue. The square footage required for these shows is typically more than is available for rent at conveniently situated, privately owned facilities. Thus, the practical effect of the ban on the use of public facilities would be to put such gun shows out of business making it that much harder and more expensive for law-abiding gun owners to obtain firearms.

"This legislation has to do with public safety, especially the safety of our children," was the predictable cry of one supporter as quoted in The Washington Post. But it's rather hard to understand, on a logical level, what "public safety" purpose is served by making life harder for people without criminal records, who pass background checks and who are buying their firearms in a perfectly lawful manner. These people are not the problem. Furthermore, no one has accused the gun show operators of any improper procedure or of neglecting to insist on all the requisite paperwork that would be involved in a similar purchase at a conventional store.

So what's the problem with the gun shows? Answer: They sell guns. That the transactions are lawful, that the purchasers are not criminals, is utterly beside the point. The advocates of the new Maryland law have but one object in mind making it harder, in time impossible, for ordinary people to purchase firearms, period.

"It's indicative of what their real motives are," said James Baker of the National Rifle Association. "Our opponents say that all they want to do is 'close the loophole' but they are never satisfied," he told The Post. And they won't be satisfied until everyone who is willing to submit to a background check, to provide identification, to wait five days before actually taking possession of a firearm, is unable to buy a gun at all. It won't matter that such a policy will have no effect on those folks who care nothing from background checks, waiting periods, and who most certainly don't purchase their firearms retail that is, on criminals. But it may be a matter of some concern to the rest of us, who find ourselves disarmed and at the mercy of well-armed criminals. That may not be the intent of those in the gun-control movement. But it will be the practical result nonetheless.

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