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June 22, 2009

The Times on the Times

On the west coast, Steve Lopez of the Los Angeles Times looked at a business that’s booming in tough economic times and wondered, "What’s Triggering Gun Sales?" Lopez visited several gun dealerships in the Los Angeles area to find out.

Three main reasons were put forward for gun purchases. First is the much ballyhooed fear promoted by the National Rifle Association (NRA) that President Obama is going to take away all guns. One dealer polished off the gun lobby’s old chestnut: "There are few things that stand between the people and tyranny. Once private gun ownership is eliminated, there's nothing to stop the government from doing what it wants to do."

The second reason has to do with fear of where the current Obama hatred might lead. As one dealer said, “If somebody shoots this guy, there's gonna be wars in the streets," adding that the violence would make the Rodney King rioting look like a picnic in the park, and some people are afraid to get stuck without enough bullets.

The third reason given was a real doozy: Some people "don't know whether [Obama’s] Muslim or Christian."

I loved Lopez’s response to these arguments. “If war broke out between the U.S. government and the Inland Empire, would it be that easy to choose sides? … Then again, if there are people in this country unstable enough to think Obama might lead a jihad, shouldn't I be prepared to protect myself from them?”

In another recent editorial, New York Times columnist John Herbert wrote, “Americans are not paying enough attention to the frightening connection between the right-wing hate-mongers who continue to slither among us and the gun crazies who believe a well-aimed bullet is the ticket to all their dreams … As if the wackos weren’t dangerous enough to begin with, the fuel to further inflame them is available in the over-the-top rhetoric of the National Rifle Association, which has relentlessly pounded the bogus theme that Barack Obama is planning to take away people’s guns ... While the NRA is not advocating violence, it shouldn’t take more than a glance at the newspapers to understand why this is a message that the country could do without.”

Herbert pointed to the obvious irony that “gun control advocates are, frankly, disappointed in the president’s unwillingness to move ahead on even the mildest of gun control measures.” He wisely concluded that the first step to addressing the threat of insurrectionist violence in our country, “should be to bring additional gun control back into the policy mix.”

It’s great to see some editorial sanity from both ends of the country.

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