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Atty. Ralph D. Sherman

130 West Main Street • New Britain, Connecticut 06052

tel. (860) 229-0213 • fax (860) 229-0235 • e-mail


Legal Opinion

January 2002


What the gun haters fear about terrorism

The insanity never stops.

The greater the threat to innocent Americans, the shriller the gun haters become about the "need" to disarm the innocent.

First the FBI tells Americans to put themselves on "maximum alert" because of possible terrorist attacks-which could come anywhere, any time, in any form. Then, when first-time buyers swarm into gun shops, the gun haters warn them that they're too stupid and incompetent to use firearms for self defense. (Never mind that criminals with a third-grade education seem to be able to use firearms or other weapons successfully.)

A spokesman for the Violence Policy Center, the most vicious of the prominent gun-hater groups, tried to ridicule the surge in gun sales after September 11. "What are you going to do? Shoot down an airliner or contaminated mail?"

Those stupid questions are typical of the gun haters' strategy: Make gun ownership seem ridiculous; make gun owners seem like nuts; don't acknowledge that guns could be useful for anyone not in uniform.

I liked (NRA director) Neal Knox's response to those stupid questions. As he put it, sensible Americans know that after a terrorist attack, or certain other kinds of social disturbances, a lot of vermin start thinking about coming out of their holes. Good people want to protect themselves and their families from those vermin. That's what the gun is for.

The attacks didn't impel me to buy any new guns, but I did pick up another case of .223 ammo. I always buy ammo by the case anyway, for economy, but I was afraid that a shortage might develop.

In the past few months, I've talked to several firearms dealers about their business after September 11. My informal survey showed that the increase in business was mainly existing customers buying ammunition-mostly 9mm, .45ACP, .223, 7.62x39. Many of these customers were persons who hadn't set foot in a gun shop in years.

There were also plenty of newcomers who wanted to buy their first gun. More than a few were shocked to find that they would have to wait two weeks for a long gun (to comply with the waiting-period requirement) or several months for a handgun (to obtain a carry permit or eligibility certificate).

What about the "easy availability of guns" that John Q. Public has read about for so long in Time magazine and the Hartford Courant? The fears raised by terrorism finally moved Mr. Public to find out for himself. When he tried to purchase his first firearm, he discovered that while "easy availability" may exist for buyers who break the law and patronize the black market, there is no "easy availability" for the good guys. Instead there are waiting periods, safety courses, background checks, application fees, FBI fingerprint checks, and a whole lot left to the discretion of the police in the case of each individual permit.

In the long run, John Q. Public's discovery is a good thing. First, Mr. Public learned that a lot of what he has read or seen on TV is a lie or, at best, a product of ignorance. Second, after Mr. Public got over his shock and anger, if he made it past all the hurdles and bought his first gun, he no longer feels sympathetic or ambivalent when the gun haters talk about taking guns away. Now what they're saying affects him personally. After all he went through to buy one lousy firearm that he may never need to use! He might just be motivated to join NRA and think about the Second Amendment and the rights of the innocent next Election Day.

And that's precisely why the gun haters are so mad about the political consequences of September 11.


Copyright 2002 by Ralph D. Sherman

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