Gun laws are for the little people

week ago on NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory brandished on screen a high-capacity magazine. To most media experts, a “high-capacity magazine” means an ad-stuffed double issue of Vanity Fair with the triple-page perfume-scented pullouts. But apparently in America’s gun-nut gun culture of gun-crazed gun kooks, it’s something else entirely, and it was this latter kind that Mr. Gregory produced in order to taunt Wayne LaPierre of the NRA. As the poster child for America’s gun-crazed gun-kook gun culture, Mr. LaPierre would probably have been more scared by the host waving around a headily perfumed Vanity Fair. But that was merely NBC’s first miscalculation. It seems a high-capacity magazine is illegal in the District of Columbia, and the flagrant breach of D.C. gun laws is now under investigation by the police.

This is, declared NYU professor Jay Rosen, “the dumbest media story of 2012.” Why? Because, as CNN’s Howard Kurtz breezily put it, everybody knows David Gregory wasn’t “planning to commit any crimes.”

So what? Neither are the overwhelming majority of his fellow high-capacity-magazine-owning Americans. Yet they’re expected to know, as they drive around visiting friends and family over Christmas, the various and contradictory gun laws in different jurisdictions. Ignorantia juris non excusat is one of the oldest concepts in civilized society: Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Back when there was a modest and proportionate number of laws, that was just about doable. But in today’s America there are laws against everything, and any one of us at any time is unknowingly in breach of dozens of them.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • $8194357

    The Dems lie every time their lips move………..

    Dianne Feinstein’s “Assault Weapons Ban” actually aims to do more than just ban automatic “assault” rifles. The California Senator summarizes her 2013 bill here on her website:

    “[The bill] bans the sale, transfer, importation, or manufacturing of: 120 specifically-named firearms; certain other semiautomatic rifles, handguns, shotguns that can accept a detachable magazine and have one or more military characteristics; and Semiautomatic rifles and handguns with a fixed magazine that can accept more than 10 rounds.”

    Writing for Breitbart, Awr Hawkins points out that her bill will ban many popular handguns:

    “That’s right, after all the criticism of the AR-15 and the holier-than-thou speeches about how no one needs a military-style rifle with a 30-round magazine the details of the ban betray a gun grab that includes semi-automatic pistols that use “a detachable magazine” and have “one military characteristic.” This can only mean that the most popular handguns in the world for both civilian and military use are being targeted. These would include Glocks, Sig Sauers, Smith & Wesson M&Ps, H&K, and Colt, yet would by no means be limited to these handguns alone.”

    Feinstein’s 2013 bill is in direct opposition to opinion polls that media and government officials claim to represent to justify more laws. Gallup just did a poll about a week after the Sandy Hook murder, and people’s opposition to a handgun ban is at an all time high. 74% of those who were questioned stated that they did not think there should be any ban on handguns. Conversely, those in favor of such a ban were at an all-time low of 24%, the lowest it had ever been since Gallup first asked the question back in 1959.
    If Gallup’s poll is truly representative of Americans’ opinions, I don’t think Feinstein’s bill stands much of a chance as it’s written now. It’s too drastic. I imagine a ban on so-called assault rifles would unfortunately succeed, but not a ban on handguns. Not yet. They’ll need a few more media-sensationalized massacres committed with handguns before they’ll try to ban them. Of course, it’s not like they’ve never shoved through “emergency” legislation before in spite of public opposition. I just think in this case, there’s too much at stake politically for the Democrats to actually enact a handgun ban. Hopefully, it will fail, but it will for sure be resurrected at the next opportune time.