Thursday, July 12, 2007

Let’s play along with the gun-control issue before D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who, like most politicians, is motivated by the vision of a Garden of Eden.

Politicians inevitably work under the assumption that one more piece of legislation will bring their constituents that much closer to the blissful place that exists in fanciful imaginations. This is the place where people actually mean no harm to one another and always have noble intentions. A few merely need another law to show them the proper path.

The city’s 30-year-old handgun ban was drafted in this spirit. As long as the good citizens of the District knew it was against the law to own a handgun, then nobody would own a handgun and the murder rate would drop to an immeasurable level.

This, of course, did not happen because the good intentions of lawmakers are inevitably trumped by the free will of the citizenry. If a person wants to own a handgun badly enough, then the person will do what is necessary to make the acquisition happen.

There are many examples of this marketplace dynamic that extend far beyond owning a handgun.

If a gentleman is in the mood to have a female “love him a long time,” he can find one of the love-you-long-time dens throughout the city, many operating in the best neighborhoods.

Now it is against the law to be in the love-you-long-time business, just as it is against the law to pay for the services provided by these establishments. Yet this law does not stop the consumer and the business owner from engaging in the practice.

It also is against the law to peddle and use drugs, although you never would know that from the druggies who litter the urban landscape. You do not even have to know the right people to buy drugs. You can walk into many bars in the city and get whatever you want with a well-placed inquiry.

At one time, believe it or not, it was against the law to manufacture, distribute and transport alcohol in our country. All too many enterprising souls saw this as a business opportunity instead of a law, and alcohol flowed as freely as it ever did before our 13-year experiment with Prohibition.

Our country’s lawmakers, in their quest to be all-knowing do-gooders, could ban every gun there is, including those favored by sportsmen, and this would be the impetus behind a vibrant black market involved in the selling and purchasing of firearms.

This hard reality often eludes the thought process of lawmakers because a gun, in the wrong hands, is an awful thing.

But a steak knife, in the wrong hands, is an awful thing as well, as the terrorists who mean us no harm have demonstrated in their grainy videos on the Internet. There are a zillion ways to eliminate someone. A gun is a much more merciful way to go than a steak knife to the neck.

A bad guy armed with a baseball bat could easily rob or assault a pedestrian along Janet Reno/Waco Memorial Drive in Cleveland Park. Well, you could make a run for it. But why risk a beating over the head over a few earthly possessions?

Guns or no guns, people have been killing one another for as long as there have been people. And as you know, it is against the law to kill, whether by poisoning, arson or rope.

Mr. Fenty says he will decide in the next week whether to appeal a federal court ruling that would revoke the handgun ban. Either way, the marketplace will respond to the dictates of the people, as it always does.

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