The Corner

Thank You, David Gregory

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then your stunt is worth a thousand op-eds. In less than one minute of screen time, you demonstrated several things:

First, even “banned” magazines are ridiculously easy to acquire. How long did it take your producers to find that magazine? Five minutes? Ten minutes? There are millions upon millions of these cheap and easy-to-manufacture items in circulation, and “banning” them will have exactly the effects you so brilliantly demonstrated on national television.

Second, labyrinthine gun-control restrictions serve mainly to instantly (and often inadvertently) convert otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. It’s a media-created myth that guns are largely unregulated in the United States. In fact, they’re so heavily and complexly regulated that it’s difficult for citizens to track jurisdictional differences or even sometimes to understand the laws in their own jurisdictions.  

Third, strict-liability gun offenses breed disrespect for the law. I tend to agree with your friends in the mainstream media — prosecuting you for holding an empty magazine in your hand would be a travesty of justice. You weren’t going to hurt anyone, you were merely using a prop for an argument, and — after all — the magazine was simply an inert hunk of metal. But the law is the law, and I’m sure you’ll agree that you should be treated exactly the same as any other (previously) law-abiding citizen caught with a similar item.

Was Washington D.C. made more dangerous because you held that magazine? Of course not. Would your prosecution deter a single “real” criminal? Of course not. In fact, it would be a silly farce. But does the law deter responsible citizens and make them less likely to defend themselves adequately? Yes. And that’s the real travesty.

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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