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Law & the Courts

Vox and Samantha Bee Discover That Things That Are for Sale Are Easier to Obtain Than Things That Aren’t for Sale

Vox with the scoop:

Samantha Bee had an easier time buying a gun arsenal than a costume of the NRA’s mascot.

Gosh, that sounds outrageous! What’s the story?:

Full Frontal host Samantha Bee had a dream: to buy the costume for the NRA’s gun safety mascot, Eddie Eagle.

But it turns out the NRA has all sorts of restrictions on getting the outfit. The group requires an 18-page application. There are rules around what you can do in the costume — for example, no driving or drinking. There’s even a national registry that tracks Eddie Eagle costumes around the country. At one point, Bee started a fake gun safety training group — and was told only law enforcement can buy the costume.

“It turned out the organization that makes it easier to get a gun than Sudafed makes it nearly impossible to acquire their giant dancing eagle,” Bee said.

There are disagreements in politics. And then there is willful stupidity. This, alas, is an example of the latter. “Eddie the Eagle” is a private, trademarked, fictional character owned by an organization that is able to restrict his replication as much as it wishes. Firearms, by contrast, are constitutionally protected goods that cannot be denied to free people without good cause. Of course it is easier to get hold of one than the other. To buy a gun one needs to be of a certain age and to be without a criminal record; to obtain an “Eddie the Eagle” costume one needs to meet whatever conditions the character’s owners have imposed. One might as well ask why it is easier for a person to buy a machete than to take Jennifer Lawrence out for dinner. “But one is nicer than the other; surely that counts for something?!”

At Vox, German Lopez pretends that he thinks Bee has a case:

The point: While the NRA values making its costume extremely difficult to obtain, the organization — by lobbying for laxer gun laws — seems okay with letting people get a gun without much, if any, of a hassle.

The skit really isn’t a stretch.

On the contrary: The “skit” is not only “a stretch,” it’s utterly desperate. By Lopez’s logic, it should be more difficult to purchase a tank of gasoline than to open a McDonalds franchise, or harder to purchase an automobile than to convince your unwilling neighbor to sell you his blankets. But it’s not. Why? Well, because in one case the supply is restricted by the property’s owners, and in the other it is not.

It is notable that when Bee finally compares like with like — that is, when both of the products within her comparison are available on the open market — she has to resort to debunked lies. “It turned out the organization that makes it easier to get a gun than Sudafed . . .” Bee claims at one point. This is false. In truth, both guns and Sudafed are regulated in all 50 states when they are purchased from a professional dealer. Moreover, as anybody who has bought both knows, it is infinitely easier to buy Sudafed from a pharmacy than to buy a gun from a dealer, and easier, too, to buy Sudafed from a secondary seller than it is to buy a gun privately.



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