Tuesday, February 19, 2008

"Everywhere, police, police, police"

In today's Washington Post, a curious story details the ridiculousness of the District's gun laws -- without, apparently, recognizing the absurdity of them all.

The reporter goes to great lengths describing all the loopholes that provide for firearms ownership within the District, quoting a gun expert who says there are "thousands and thousands of legal firearms" in D.C.:

Because the city's "handgun ban" does not ban handguns entirely, and because the statute outlaws only certain kinds of rifles and shotguns, a huge number of D.C. residents legally possess firearms.

A "huge number."

That huge number does not include any non-"Special Police Officer" who has moved into the city since 1976 -- which I think would qualify as a "huger" number of people who may otherwise wish to protect themselves from intruders and other violent offenders.

But, surely, the gun ban has had a positive effect on violent crime since the ban, right?

Well, not so much. As you can see below, as linked above the article in the online edition of the Post, the homicide justification for the bans is flimsy, to be polite:

I have no idea how an article that justifies the bans by pointing out numerous exemptions to the ban can link to such a damning graphic and maintain such a contrary position. Granted, the piece does not explicitly back the bans, but I fail to see the "news" in the fact that people in D.C. have guns.

Of course, most of the exemptions are for law enforcement agencies, both public and private. I think this is a telling statement about how the government works, grows, and dominates the culture. What's more, its growing influence -- literally at the point of a gun -- goes virtually unchallenged as the populace is deprived of their right to self-defense:

[D.C. police Lt. Jon] Shelton can hold forth in encyclopedic detail on the thicket of laws and rules that apply to special police officers. There's a separate maze of regulations governing off-duty D.C. and federal police officers and what types of guns, if any, they are allowed to carry in the District.

Some agencies -- the D.C. police and U.S. Park Police for example -- fall under Title 18 of the U.S. Code, meaning officers are allowed (even required) to be armed at all times and have police powers throughout the city. Officers in other departments, such as the Library of Congress police, fall under Title 40, Shelton said. They have police powers only where they work and are not allowed to carry guns on private or city property while off duty.

"In D.C., we have all these quasi-law enforcement agencies," he said. "Everywhere, police, police, police -- it's like every federal agency in the city has its own police force. It's hard to keep up with who's under what title."

(Emphasis added.)

So, the government and its nimiety of overlapping police organizations glut the District, whereas no private individual -- save those in law enforcement and life-long residents approaching their 60s -- may legally possess a handgun for protection in one of the most dangerous cities in the nation.

When it comes to self-defense, it seems some District residents are more equal than others.

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