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Monday 18 October 2004

Gun-Control Fantasies from the WP

I don’t have any particular love for guns, or for shooting, myself. A lot of people do: my dad, for instance, is utterly fascinated by guns as objects. The machining, the engraving, the finish, the carving of the handle or stock — he loves it to the point where many of his guns aren’t even operational; he buys antiques purely for their physical attributes, and never bothers to get them put back into working order. Me, I don’t get it.

But what I get even less is the reasoning behind gun control. There is a particularly silly editorial in today’s Washington Post about this.

The background is this: in the Commonwealth of Virginia, you — assuming you’re not a felon, feebleminded, etc. — are free to openly carry a firearm pretty much anywhere. Private property-owners can restrict you from carrying a gun onto their property, but the government can’t tell you that you can’t carry your weapon onto public property — property that is, after all, yours in some small proportion.

This has recently become something of an Issue in the Washington suburbs, half of which are in Virginia. Local gun activists have recently made a point of openly carrying guns around, because, amazingly enough, many cops didn’t seem to understand that openly carrying weapons was and is perfectly legal in Virginia.

So now we get to the silly Washington Post editorial. It has come to the attention of the Post editorial-page people that while airport terminals are gun-free zones by federal diktat, the parking lots and roads at airports are not. Washington’s two main airports are in Virginia.

Though Ronald Reagan National Airport and Dulles International Airport don’t — and still won’t — allow weapons inside the terminals, on the airfields or in buildings adjacent to the airfields without prior arrangements, people will be free, as of Dec. 1, to transport their arsenals right onto the grounds and leave them stashed in their cars at the parking lots.

In the post-Sept. 11 world, that’s irresponsible and dangerous.

We will ignore the September 11 reference, but we will note that no guns were involved in the September 11 attacks.

The Post goes on:

So now, outside the security check areas in terminals — where at least some people have to step out of their shoes and undergo pat-downs and other safety checks — the parking lots may be loaded with deadly weapons. How comforting is that?

The Post goes on to recommend that the federal ‘protections’ (against guns, presumably) that apply to the terminal buildings should be extended to the entire property.

Which leaves me with this question: if a law is all that’s needed to keep a given place ‘safe from guns’, then why is it not sufficient that there’s a law that says that you can’t carry a gun into the airport itself? Do they honestly think that there’s a risk from guns that law-abiding gun owners leave locked in their trunks in the parking lot?

This is the big problem with gun-control laws; they are laws. They will only have an effect on that portion of the population who obeys the law — which portion of the population is not, by definition, the big problem when it comes to gun or any other type of crime.

The Post, like most anti-gun-nut organizations, seems to be mistaking legislation with incantation. They seem to think that laws are some kind of magic spells that are effective just because the Washington Post wishes hard enough for it. Nowhere in the editorial is a statement about this being window-dressing, or to ‘send a message’ or anything like that; to all appearances, they actually think that simply banning guns from the airport parking lots would have some actual effect in the real world, that such a ban would cut down on the large number of airport shootings we see now. (Note: there have not actually been any such shootings, to the best of my knowledge, in the nine years or so that I’ve lived in Washingtonia.)

Yes, if only the government would ban guns from the airport parking lots, then the airport parking lots would be as orderly as the streets of D.C., where they have an almost total ban on guns. What a happy day that will be.

Posted by tino at 15:18 18.10.04
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I seem to recall when the initial story was reported the writer seemed to imply it made sense to loosen the rules since conceivably you could get arrested for haveing a gun on Rte 28 by Dulles since that was technically on airport grounds.

Of course the Post’s editorial board wants to make their point not sense.

Oh and there is a 3rd Washingtonia airport…..BWI.

Posted by: Paul Johnson at October 18, 2004 04:05 PM