- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some of the most far-out anti-gun laws are found on the left coast, but that could change - for privileged politicians. A California state Senate committee will consider a bill next week that grants legislators permission to carry concealed firearms. The measure highlights the growing rift between the bureaucratic class and taxpayers who don’t have the luxury of exempting themselves from bad laws.

Ordinary Californians who want a concealed carry permit need to apply to the local sheriff. In practice - outside of conservative, rural counties - only celebrities and the well-connected end up obtaining the coveted document. In a state of nearly 37 million, about 40,000 permits were issued in 2007. The proposal being offered by a pair of pro-gun state Senate Democrats would automatically define as eligible for a permit “any applicant who is a member of Congress, a statewide elected official or a Member of the Legislature.” These could carry a gun “for purposes of protection or self-defense.” Coddled lawmakers living in gated communities may think they face heightened risk, but it’s unlikely poor residents in sketchy urban neighborhoods have any less of a need.

California’s gun laws are strict and include a ban on high-capacity magazines and scary-looking “assault weapons” - a statute so arbitrary that the state had to create a 96-page picture book to illustrate which items are prohibited. The latest scheme took effect last year requiring guns to imprint their serial number on every shell casing fired. This law was adopted even though such “microstamping”technology isn’t available, and it would be extremely expensive if it were.

The motivation of lawmakers in layering restriction on top of restriction hasn’t been to stop bad guys. Criminals, by definition, don’t abide by the law. Rather, the primary purpose is to harass gun owners who do try to do what’s right. Such laws have proved irrelevant anyway. The gun grabbers predicted the 2004 expiration of the federal assault weapons ban would fill our streets with blood. The latest available FBI crime stats showed a 6.2 percent decrease in violent crimes for the first half of 2010. The number of murders without the ban is now 34 percent lower than when it took effect in 1994.

Practically any bill that respects the right to keep and bear arms in a left-leaning state ought to be supported, no matter how unlikely final passage may seem. Exempting politicians may be the exception. Already the Golden State’s legislative class doesn’t have to worry about high gas prices because taxpayers fill up their tanks. They use a “per diem” scheme to avoid paying their own high taxes on about $40,000 worth of their $140,000 annualcompensation. Forcing legislators to live under the same crazy laws they expect everyone else to follow may help a few to appreciate the need for true reform.

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